Laura Tyler Recognized as NCJFCJ Impact of the Year Award Recipient
Stinson LLP is proud to announce that attorney Laura Higgins Tyler was one of 13 attorneys who collectively received the 2021 Impact of the Year Award from the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) at their Annual Conference.
The Impact of the Year Award recognizes those who have been "instrumental in leading or implementing significant improvements or innovations which advance the mission of the NCJFCJ through practice improvements implemented state or jurisdiction-wide, state/local legislation or other regulatory improvements, unique state/local court programs or services; courtroom management and/or technology, and/or extraordinary efforts in pro bono work."
The organization honored the group, often referred to as the Jackson County Family Court pro bono attorneys, "for being exemplary attorneys who innovatively rethink, reimagine and redefine justice for children and families."
The Jackson County Family Court pro bono attorneys as a group had its beginnings in 1989, when state statute extended the right to counsel to both children and parents in Family Court, and provided that counsel shall be appointed if the child and/or parents are indigent. To fulfill the requirement of the statute, the Jackson County Family Court began appointing counsel from an alphabetical list of attorneys registered with the Missouri Supreme Court who office or reside within Jackson County, Missouri. Therefore, all of the attorneys in the Kansas City office began receiving Family Court appointments.
Based upon her experience and passion, Laura was hired by the firm in the fall of 1989 to accept the appointments received by members of the firm. Other firms similarly began hiring attorneys who were familiar with the issues, process and procedure in Family Court; and the "Jackson County Family Court pro bono attorneys" was born.
Over the course of the last three decades Laura has represented parents facing allegations of child abuse and neglect, as well as juveniles who have allegedly committed a crime. She has also acted as guardian ad litem for children who have been abused or neglected. During any given week, Laura prepares for and attends with her clients 15 to 20 court appearances at varying stages in the process including adjudicative and disposition hearings, treatment team reviews and permanency reviews. In addition, Laura attends and participates in 72-hour meetings, team decision meetings, stability meetings and family support team meetings with her clients and the Children’s Division.
Over the past year while the economy spiraled downward, referrals to the Jackson County Family Court spiraled upward; and while businesses shut down, the Jackson County pro bono attorneys individually and as a group amped up their legal and emotional counsel and support for children and families who faced loss of employment loss of housing and loss of their children. The Jackson County pro bono attorneys advocated for accessibility of the courts, facilitated participation of their clients in court and meetings of the Children's Division through WebEx, developed strategies to maintain contact between parents and children, shared developments in the law, consulted with other appointed attorneys and promoted the principles of the Family First Prevention Services Act.