Jonathon practices in the 1st JD as a Guardian ad litem and Respondent Parent Counsel Attorney and in the 18th JD as a Respondent Parent Counsel Attorney.
Why did you choose to practice child welfare law?
I am passionate about working with children and families. I like working in juvenile law because of the relationships that are built, and I feel that I can have a direct impact on families’ lives. So many of the people I work with feel that their voices are never heard, so I work very diligently to ensure that they do not feel that way during their court process. I particularly like working with teenagers who have never had positive supports or role models and I try to help them have a more positive outlook on life and their future.
What has been the most rewarding moment for you while working with children and families in the dependency and neglect system?
Other than helping to achieve the goal of a child returning home to his/her parents set up for long-term success, the most rewarding moments for me are seeing a youth that I work with accomplish a personal goal such as playing a sport or graduating high school.
Describe a challenge you face doing this work and your strategies to overcome it.
The biggest challenge that I face on a daily basis is having tough conversations with parents and clients, telling them something that is hard to hear yet maintaining a positive working relationship. In those instances, I try to maintain a future-focused optimistic outlook and keep the focus on the betterment of the family rather than on one person’s issues.
What advice do you have for an attorney that is new to child welfare law?
Make sure that you are also taking care of yourself and your own family. All attorneys in this field give so much of themselves to their clients and cases that sometimes there is not much left at the end of the day. It is extremely important to have some balance and make sure you have time and energy left to enjoy life.
What drives you to continue in this line of work?
I continue to be driven by the idea that the work we do is important, and that the families we work with are in desperate need of high-quality representation. My advice for the seasoned attorney is to remember why you got into this type of work, and, if you are no longer passionate, find a way to be re-energized because your clients deserve it.
Share a litigation strategy or case example when you were successful despite opposition from other parties to the case.
There are undoubtedly times that we face opposition from all parties and end up feeling like we are on our own island. When I am faced with a similar situation, I make sure to utilize all of my resources and seek assistance and advice from other uninvolved people who can give an unbiased opinion. It is easy to have tunnel vision when you feel strongly about a particular position, so I find it helpful to work through the possible outcomes and scenarios with other attorneys in advance of engaging in litigation. So, by the time you end up before the Judge, you are prepared and have attempted to think though all possible issues.