Thursday, July 30, 2015
Mia Kern, an associate with Modrall Sperling, has been tapped to serve on a University of New Mexico School of Law Advisory Committee charged with designing a new program in children's law. Kern was selected based on the strength of her work at Civitas Child Law Center at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, where she earned her J.D. with a certificate in child law in 2010. During her tenure with the renowned program, she was a Child Law Fellow and the Editor-in-Chief of the Children's Legal Rights Journal.
"Children are most deeply affected by poverty, and these effects can last a lifetime," Kern notes. "The members of the advisory committee understand the importance of this work, because children all too often are not heard by the system. The committee is working to give them a voice."
New Mexico ranks 49th out of 50 states in terms of overall child well-being, which considers factors such as economics, education, health, family and community, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2015 Kids Count survey. A 2013 report by Feeding America names New Mexico as the most food-insecure state in the nation for youth.
The committee's mission is to tackle these problems by increasing the number of lawyers who reflect New Mexico's diverse communities and are dedicated to alleviating the effects of poverty on children and families. Toward that end, it has received a one-year W.K. Kellogg Foundation grant for research and development of the initiative.
"By addressing the conditions that lead to and exacerbate poverty, public interest lawyers can improve the well-being of children over their life spans and across generations," says Beth Gillia, director of the Corinne Wolfe Children's Law Center of the Institute of Public Law. Gillia, along with UNM Law School Professors Barbara Bergman (now retired) and Yael Cannon founded the advisory committee to fill the currently unmet legal and policy needs of vulnerable children and families across New Mexico.
At the end of the planning period, the advisory committee will develop a multi-phase proposal to implement the plan to increase the public interest law sector in order to meet the state's demand for these specialized legal services.