Ashley Chase practices as a Guardian ad Litem in the 19th Judicial District.
Why did you choose to practice child welfare law?
I was very lucky to participate in the Juvenile Law Clinic at CU Law, and immediately felt this is what I wanted to do. I love working with children and families and being a voice for those who often do not have one. I enjoy working in a field where on any given week I will be in court, in meetings and in several counties visiting homes. It is NEVER boring!
What has been the most rewarding moment for you while working with children and families in the child welfare system?
It is very hard to choose. I have been lucky to have many rewarding moments in my career. It is always very meaningful when a child I worked with reaches out to me years later. One in particular recently reached out to thank me for the time I took in her case and shared how it helped her. Even more exciting, some of my advice stayed with her; she was out of the system and getting ready to graduate community college. Though we see a lot of unfortunate results, this time it was great to see someone succeeding and to feel like my efforts truly helped her.
Describe a challenge you face doing this work and your strategies to overcome it.
I feel challenged by systemic issues that impact many clients and make me feel like I can’t help them the way I want. These issues are the most frustrating because I cannot simply file a motion and litigate my way out of it. Rather than give up, I try to get involved on a higher level to work towards systemic change. Things like participating in my best practices team have helped me feel like I am working on a solution instead of just being frustrated with the status quo.
What advice do you have for an attorney who is new to child welfare law?
I advise them to embrace this unique and rewarding field of law by reaching out to other professionals for mentoring and support, to get involved with committees and trainings so they can see the broad spectrum of child welfare law and to work diligently on their litigation skills and strategy. Above all else – they should relish in the work days where they run in the grass with a client or play with a child on the rug because that only happens in child welfare law!
What drives you to continue in this line of work and do you have any advice for seasoned attorney?
My motivation has remained consistent over the last ten years. My best advice for myself and others is to remember to celebrate small successes. We so often get bogged down by the trauma and the failures and we do not take time to celebrate the small stuff: seeing the joy of a family when a child is returned home, a parent achieving 90 days of sobriety, a child passing her grade or being at the same school for a full year—the list goes on and on.
Share a litigation strategy.
My biggest litigation strategy is simply do not be afraid to litigate. It is a powerful tool when the opposition knows you are capable, willing and able to litigate an issue.