Josi practices in the 8th Judicial District in Colorado.
Why did you choose to practice child welfare law?
Having enjoyed a number of juvenile and family law courses in law school, I signed up for the Juvenile Law Clinic my final year of law school. I loved the way that child welfare law intersected with so many different areas of law, and I really enjoyed working with the kids. After that clinic, I knew this was the type of law I wanted to practice.
What has been the most rewarding moment for you while working with children and families in the dependency and neglect system?
There are so many rewards working in this system. Over the years, I’ve had a few kids want to give me something to thank me when they had practically nothing themselves. One of my first clients, a seven-year-old, gave me one of his stuffed animals when his case closed, which was very meaningful. I also have kids who still contact me years after we’ve finished working together just to update me. Hearing from these kids and knowing that they are doing well is tremendously rewarding.
Describe a challenge you face doing this work and your strategies to overcome it.
Sometimes, there are policies and procedures in place within the system that seem to do more harm to the child or family than good when actually put into practice. The best way for me to deal with it is generally not to file a motion, but to get together with a group of people who have the ability to implement different measures and to work as a team to come to a resolution to help the client. I think it is always best to try and come up with a solution outside of the courtroom, if at all possible.
What advice do you have for an attorney that is new to child welfare law?
Don’t be afraid to go to your fellow GALs for advice and support. I’m so lucky to be in a jurisdiction full of amazing GALs who are willing to share motions and research or even just go to lunch so I can get a second opinion or just vent.
What drives you to continue in this line of work?
Seeing a child or family be successful keeps me going. Sometimes these moments can seem few and far between, but witnessing their successes are so invigorating. I should probably be seeking advice, rather than giving any, but I do think it’s important to stay on top of my legal research and case law. As Sheri Danz would say, “check the GRID.”