Farewell from Shaunis

I came to this job as a trial attorney. I had over seven years of experience trying cases. From my first day as an attorney, that’s what I did and that’s what I knew. I’m pretty sure that is why I got this job. But I learned quickly that this job was not that.

As the Assistant Juvenile Defender, I have had the opportunity to travel the state and see how Juvenile Court is unique in each venue as I conducted our contract evaluations. I saw judges and attorneys come up with solutions to help clients that I had never considered when I was practicing. While providing technical assistance for attorneys, in addition to researching issues for attorneys in Juvenile Court, I have been able to brainstorm with some of the most brilliant minds in juvenile defense while we discussed their cases. While moderating our quarterly defender call in, I listened as attorneys helped one another to solve problems in their cases. I went to policy meetings with stakeholders across the juvenile justice arena, all with the common goal of helping juveniles who are at risk of being on a path that is hard to leave and each with a career’s worth of experience and devotion to back it up. I went to legislative sessions, where lawmakers earnestly debated the best way to solve our juvenile justice concerns.

With Eric, I developed work plans and articulated the Office’s vision for future projects systematically and logically, a luxury that most trial attorneys simply don’t have the time to learn to do. Our office manager Sybil helped me learn the ropes of maneuvering efficiently through the piles of paperwork required to responsibly document the work that we do. I’ve learned from skilled teachers who know more about adult learning than I ever knew I needed to know through all of the trainings that our office is a part of through the School of Government, Public Defender Offices, and our partner organizations, such as the National Juvenile Defender Center. My teammates at Indigent Defense Services provided me with the insight of everything that goes in to making sure that our clients have access to qualified counsel.

I leave this job as a better and more complete attorney because of all of you. What I hope to leave to you all is the knowledge that, while each of us feels alone as we are standing next to our client, through the Office of the Juvenile Defender, you have a network of resources and experience ready to back you up. It is just a phone call or a click away!

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