Janice Brown was recognized by the District Court bench as the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada May Volunteer of the Month. She currently has her own practice where she is an arbitrator in the mandatory arbitration program. In addition to her specialized work with arbitration she routinely assists with pro bono work for the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada.
Her nomination states: “While all of her pro bono work is amazing, her dedication and support for the Children’s Attorneys Project has been amazing. She has represented at least 15 clients, most of them under the age of eight. She was first encouraged to do pro bono work by Josh Aicklen. After taking her first CAP case, Janice quickly learned that the clients were very vulnerable. “Their vocabularies could not encompass the type of abuse experienced at the hands of people they loved.” Janice made it her mission to work with those in the trenches to improve her clients’ chances for success.”
When Legal Aid staff asked Janice about a memorable client and how she helped them, she shared “I did the witness preparation as though she were any other client. When her voice dropped as she gave me horrific details, I told her to ‘talk to the wall.’ If she did that, she only would have to think about the question once. Everyone would hear her. She ‘talked to the wall’ about some very horrific events. Talking to the wall seemed to ease her mind about conveying hurtful information. Later, when she was interviewed by the deputy district attorney who would be questioning her at the hearing, she needed little assistance in understanding and voicing her answers. Very difficult testimony lost its terror because she could “talk to the wall. She had no fear of saying what needed to be said in a loud voice that reached the wall and certainly pierced my heart.”
Janice shared the following advice: “My advice to anyone who signs up for a case, is to keep insisting that others provide the care and services that the clients need and deserve. Believe in them and test everything that is being done for them (or to them) so that they will have the happy futures they imagine and so richly deserve. You should always ensure that they are provided the tools they need to thrice, whether upon return to a parent/relative’s custody or after adoption.
Debra Spinelli was recognized by the District Court bench as the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada July Volunteer of the Month. She currently practices complex business litigation at the firm Pisanelli Bice. According to her nomination, “Debra has been an amazing volunteer for the Children’s Attorneys Project. Her dedication to her clients is apparent when she is in in the Courtroom advocating for her clients. When we asked Debra why she does pro bono work she said “While there is a human element to all disputes, including business disputes, pro bono work with and for children is something entirely different. Helping young people – those too young to have a voice and those too young to know when and how to use their voice – navigate something as complex as our legal system is necessary and essential to their empowerment and development. If we can help in even the smallest way to show them how to use the system instead of being lost in it, then we should try. And that is why I try through Legal Aid’s CAP program.”
When Legal Aid staff asked Debra about her most memorable client, she said “My most memorable pro bono client was my first pro bono client, which was when I was just a second year attorney, I believe. I inherited her, a strong-minded and intelligent woman who knew the system because she lived it her entire youth. She was determined to stay connected to her natural mother, and to stay connected to all of her siblings. She navigated her way through her adolescence, education, and life’s bumpy roads, and I stood by her side and advocated on her behalf. She was not shy, and she taught me a lot. I hope I helped her half as much as I learned from her and her journey. She is today a strong-minded and intelligent adult, professional, and loving mother of her own children.”