Representing children is great. They are genuine and interesting because the world seems new through their eyes. They want to tell their story and usually make you feel taller by comparison.
Minor guardianship cases occasionally have complicated issues. But part of the fun of being a lawyer is problem-solving with negotiations, writing, or dazzling the judge with oral arguments practiced in the mirror and refined in the shower.
Occasionally, children in a family have different goals, resulting in a conflict of interest. When a conflict exists, the attorney cannot ethically stay on the case representing sibling groups. Under NRCP Rule 1.7, I can’t argue out of both sides of my mouth; I can’t say that safety concerns exist for one kid but not another. Unlike adults, children cannot waive conflicts of interest, Matter of H. Children, 608 N.Y.S.2d 784 (N.Y. Fam. Ct. 1994). So when a conflict arises, I have to withdraw, no matter how much work I put in or how badly these kids need their voices heard. And there is nothing I can do. But wait! What we need is a hero. These kids need a hero. But where?
I know! The incredibly talented and intelligent attorney reading this article right now. Yes! You!
You can save the day. By taking a Pro Bono minor guardianship case, you can represent a child who deserves their day in court. Legal Aid Center works to find a pro bono attorney for each sibling, so the court can see the case from all sides and families can have a better outcome. The Legal Aid Center pairs pro bono attorneys with mentors, so there is no need to feel intimidated trying something new. So, take a case, do something good, and possibly feel a bit taller and happier representing a child in need.
About this article: This article was originally published in the Communiqué, the official publication of the Clark County Bar Association, (June/July 2022). See https://clarkcountybar.org/member-benefits/communique-2022/communique-june-july-2022/.
About the author
Marcus Brouwers, Esq. is a Las Vegas native, he graduated from the Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana. He is currently a minor guardianship attorney with the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada.
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