Meet Lauren Lewis, an attorney with with Essex Richards, P.A. For the past eight years, she has also served as a volunteer attorney in our Custody Advocacy Program. Recently, Lauren received the Young Lawyer of the Year Award from the Mecklenburg County Bar.
John Parker, a CFCR attorney with our Custody Advocacy Team who has worked with Lauren over her years as a volunteer with the Council, had this to say: ” Lauren’s work for CFCR involves advocating for the best interests of children in the most difficult of custody cases. She handles her cases with the skill, energy, judgment, and compassion that is characteristic of her. She’s a really good lawyer who cares deeply about the children she represents.”
We asked Lauren about to share with us a little about how she got involved with the Council and what she finds most rewarding about volunteering and working with the children.
How did you learn about Council for Children’s Rights?
When I first started practicing law and began working at Horack Talley, many of my family law colleagues were involved with CFCR already and encouraged me to participate.
Why did you decide to volunteer with us?
All the cool kids were doing it and, more importantly, I’d previously served as a Guardian ad litem in Wake County for a number of years and knew I wanted to continue representing children in a pro bono capacity once I moved to Charlotte.
What is the most rewarding aspect of this volunteer work?
The children! My CFCR clients are awesome. It is difficult to see children in negative, high-conflict, unsafe, or abusive home situations, but it is so rewarding to be a bright spot for the children during those struggles. Making connections with the children in such a way that enables me to make an appropriate recommendation for their future care is especially rewarding. I have also really enjoyed working with amazing custody advocates; Beth Nowak, in particular, because she is also awesome and we’ve (fortunately for me!) partnered together for a few cases.
Why would you encourage others to volunteer?
The CFCR team is amazing. The training is informative and accessible, and they continue to provide on-the-job training as you progress in representation, so there is no need to feel like you don’t have the skills to serve as a volunteer. I have a strong commitment to pro bono work and believe lawyers are in an especially unique position to influence our communities through pro bono work. The Council has a high need for volunteers, and the feeling of helping find calmness or stability in chaos is gratifying. The children need us!
Please share a story of a case you’ve worked on where you felt you really made a difference.
It was a cool fall day when we were appointed to represent an absolutely adorable three-year-old girl in a case that involved sexual abuse allegations, which broke my heart. As time wore on in our investigation, alongside my custody-advocate-partner-in-crime, we were not only able to help the parents reach a workable and positive parenting plan for the child, we also had opportunities to teach the parents some strategies for positive decision-making and co-parenting. Through several home visits and a lot of fun time playing with (a lot of pink) toys with our client, we were honored to learn she had bestowed on us the title of her “Guardian Angels”.
Care to share something about your family?
“I sustain myself with the love of family.” – Maya Angelou
What books are currently on your nightstand?
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline and Life, Animated by Ron Suskind
When you aren’t working and volunteering, what do you enjoy doing?
Playing at the US National Whitewater Center; chasing my two-year-old son, Henry; hanging out with family; enjoying our area’s growing craft beer industry; finding ways to be at the beach or on the lake
Any other organizations/causes you support or are involved in?
I am on the Girls on the Run Charlotte Advisory Board, the Mecklenburg County Board of Directors, and the Pro Bono and Legal Recruitment Committee at the MCB. I also support Safe Alliance, and have been on the steering committee for the Fighting for Women with Fashion event since its inception, which benefits the domestic violence shelter.