MoForever Alumni News - Winter 2019

21 | MoForever Winter 2019 lengthier process to shape strategy, develop community partners to take ownership of the challenge, and construct possible remedies. One thing is certain: NCYL lawyers never rely on their own isolated judgment to pursue a particular outcome for a community. There is a solid, collaborative partnership for solutions, whether litigation is involved or not, to resolve community problems around children’s services. When Leecia and her team earn a win or a settlement for the community, the nonprofit takes it a step further and develops ways to transform the system based on the winning outcome. This sometimes takes many years to see through. Litigation for Maximum Impact Leecia handles a mix of litigation — from representing individual youths whose cases have the potential to make a much broader impact, to class actions that take years and transform systems. Her first case at NCYL was an impact litigation filed in 1993 in Utah called David C . This case is particularly memorable to her, as she was just leaving MoFo in 2004 for NCYL and immediately got to partner with a MoFo pro bono team on the matter. “Back when the case was filed, Utah was one of the most dismal and financially starved child-welfare systems in the country,” said Leecia. “Working with MoFo was both rewarding and crucial to our success in Utah. Together NCYL and MoFo successfully negotiated a settlement agreement, won subsequent litigation, and also worked to implement the settlement. This turned Utah from one of the worst child-welfare systems in the country to one of the best.” Social workers were better trained and supervised, caseloads decreased, the health care system for children in foster care improved significantly, there was a focus on data-driven outcomes, and the system became a model for other states. “When Utah exited our settlement agreement, the court was thrilled with the improvements that were made to the foster care system. Many thousands of children were safer and healthier, and their families were much better off than they had been in 1993,” added Leecia. “The David C. case was incredibly gratifying because I was able to see the culmination of our transformative work to improve a statewide foster care system.” “In David C. and Henry A. , another foster care reform case we worked on together, having MoFo as a partner was critical to being able to demonstrate to the state defendants that we were committed to doing whatever it took to prevail in our litigation. It shows that if we have to go all the way to trial, that’s what we’re prepared to do. Of course, we prefer to resolve things more quickly than that. But having the capacity to pursue extensive class-wide discovery and have an on-the-ground presence that allows you to execute an aggressive litigation strategy that