An essential element of a great Guardian ad Litem team, and therefore great advocacy for our children, is an excellent leader. Circuit 2 supervising attorney Lorraine Donovan-Lepanto fulfills that role every day. With her guidance and support our legal team and staff are able to provide quality, effective advocacy for the children we serve.
Lorraine is dedicated to the Guardian program. She joined the GAL legal team in January 2007 and has been a supervising attorney for our circuit for over two years. Our staff, both attorneys, non-attorneys and volunteers, know we can depend on her.
Lorraine as a wide knowledge of both the dependency system and our program. She not only shares that knowledge, but shares it in a way so that everyone can understand. She doesn’t mind talking to a volunteer for hours to go over the legality of a certain case. She values their input and recognizes the importance of the advocacy team.
She not only trains new attorneys, but also new volunteers and new CAMs, helping them understand the legal part of what we do. Lorraine uses her own experiences in the program and with cases to help guide those new to the system and our program. She is able to adapt to people’s different learning styles and personalities to be an effective leader and teacher. She truly recognizes the Guardian program is a team sport. She understands that the legal team is just one cog and works with the whole staff to make sure all the cogs are running smoothly.
Even though like us all Lorraine’s plate is full, she somehow always makes time to work with and support her attorneys. Many a night walking through the office, you will find her having a powwow with one of her attorneys, talking about their cases, strategizing and making sure they are doing alright. She is approachable and her staff knows that she cares not only about the job, but about the child and about them.
Lorraine is not afraid to take a stand when it comes to advocating for the best interest. As one of her attorneys puts it, she will be the lone wolf in the moral conviction of what is right. She will not simply take the path of least resistance and because of that our children’s interest are heard and served. She is one who tries to makes sure our children who may not qualify for an attorney ad litem but could use one gets one.
Lorraine also decided to practice what she preached and became a Guardian ad Litem volunteer herself. She was assigned a courtesy case. She has developed a relationship with the teen. They go on outings and that child knows there is someone who is there for her. Lorraine even missed a staff function when she found out last minute about awards ceremony for the teen at the teen’s group home. She wasn’t going to miss cheering on her child.
Her experience as a GAL has given her new perspective on the barriers, frustrations and challenges our volunteers sometimes face. She is sensitive to their plight. She understands not just the legal aspects of each case, but can understand the human, emotional and social work aspects. It isn’t just a case. It is a relationship.
Lorraine has made our circuit better. She has fostered a family environment. She has led by example, with all of attorneys choosing to become volunteers on courtesy cases as well. Her faith in her team gives them faith in her and themselves. And most importantly, through her leadership, our children receive the thing they need-stellar advocacy.