The Bar News

Family Defense Center to host 3rd Annual Benefit

The Family Defense Center will be hosting its Third Annual Benefit Event on September 25, 2011 form 4-7:30 at Hotel Allegro. 

The event is a cocktail party with hors d’oeuvres and dessert and both a silent and a live auction. Ticket for professionals is $125, with reduced rate tickets available for not-for-profit organizations. Registration is available by emailing or by calling (312) 251-9800 x10.

This year, the event will honor Chicago area-native (and University of Chicago Law School class of 1973 graduate) Carolyn Kubitschek as the Center’s 2011 Family Defender. In 2011, Ms. Kubitschek, who practices and teaches law in New York City and who is widely regarded as the leading appellate advocate nationally on behalf of children and families in the child welfare system, argued Camreta/Alford v. Greene before the United States Supreme Court. Camreta is the first case the Court has heard in 21 years concerning children’s civil rights in a child protection investigation—the area in which the Center primarily works. (The Center coordinated the national amicus briefing in the case, with 18 briefs filed for 60 organizations).  

The September 25th Benefit is co-chaired by two legal community leaders, Salvador Cicero of the Cicero Law Firm (who is also the current president of the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois) and Michael T. Brody, partner at Jenner & Block and a board member for the Center.  Dr Christopher Sullivan and Prof. Dorothy Roberts, past honorees, are honorary co-chairs.  In addition to recognizing Ms. Kubitschek’s pioneering work on behalf of children in foster care, domestic violence victims and families at risk of separation without due process, the Center will be recognizing several attorneys who have made significant contributions to helping children and families remain together. Those attorneys include Jenner and Block attorney Michael Otto;  McDermott Will & Emery attorneys Michael Weaver, Elizabeth Lewis, Aron Frakes and Lisa Loesel who recently won a major appellate court victory in a Center case,  and the law firm Sidley Austin, LLP which has had over 10 attorneys working on Center cases in the past year.

Formed in 2005 by its Executive Director Diane L. Redleaf, the Family Defense Center (FDC) is a multi-faceted legal advocacy organization whose mission is to advocate justice for families in the child welfare system. A unique organization in the United States, the FDC is counsel in major federal and state court litigation as well as through individual direct legal services. Based on a careful screening of cases for legal and factual merit, the Center represents many individual family members who are dealing with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and/or the Juvenile court, protecting children and families from separation by the child welfare system before irreparable harm is done to them.  In addition to the direct legal services that Center staff provide, the  Center operates a pro bono case handling program with major law firms in the Chicago area,  has developed detailed self-help materials for family members, and Center runs a nationally-recognized “National Reunification Day” each year (with 2012’s date set for June 2) through its Parent Empowerment Program. The Center has both a policy agenda and community education/outreach efforts concerning child welfare law and practice. The Center’s pro bono program will be one of featured programs at the Chicago Bar Foundation’s upcoming Pro Bono Week in October. The Center received the first “Excellent Emerging Organization Award” from the Axelson Center on Non-Profit Management.

Posted on September 12, 2011 by Chris Bonjean
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