WHEN A KID NEEDS A FRIEND …by Shell Lessen

“Cute, huggable teddy bears in a court of law! Is that really appropriate?” I asked.

The question came up while interviewing the subject of this blog. “Absolutely,” she replied. “Things run more smoothly when teddy bears are available in Juvenile Dependency Court,” declared Nancy Rabin Brucker, Esq., a vigorous, very much involved attorney specializing in California juvenile dependency law.

Juvenile dependency law deals with allegations of abuse or neglect of children investigated by the Department of Children and Family Services.

It seems that hugging a teddy bear brings on a feeling of security in these children who must attend courtroom proceedings, particularly the first-timers. Without a familiar Teddy they tend to become quite uncomfortable among such strange unknown surroundings.

Supplying this welcomed gift is a charity known as Comfort For Court Kids. “CCK provides free, friendly teddy bears for one and all,” Nancy explained.

Someone to count on

The kids may not realize it, but Nancy herself ranks high on the list of their good friends, right up there with the teddies. Caring about—and caring for—children have always been imperative “to do’s” in her life. So it comes as no surprise that she is a founding member and longtime supporter of Comfort for Court Kids.

Also, close-up caring has made this devoted re-married divorcee well versed in the ways of children. She has raised three of her own, on her own.

Adding to her understanding of child-family relations and problems are over 31 years of representing parents, foster parents and relatives in juvenile dependency cases. She has also represented youngsters in family law matters. Above all, Nancy has dedicated herself to keeping the families she serves together.

Searching for satisfaction

That’s quite a remarkable resume’ for someone who had no interest in becoming a lawyer for quite a while after graduating from high school. Nor did she jump with joy at the opportunity to be one of the many college-bound girls of the 50’s who registered for courses leading to a teaching career. Teaching was considered “The Career” for girls in those days.

Despite her anti-teacher feelings, she decided to give the pre-teaching program a try and joined the crowd at UCLA for a while. Then quit. She did take a job as a legal secretary. As Nancy sees it “the profession itself interested me. Being a part of it just didn’t appeal to me.”

Years later Nancy took advantage of a UCLA program designed to determine whether or not she had the skills to pursue a law career. The results were positive.

“One reason why I was drawn to the law was the fact that a brother of mine, whom I greatly admired, was a lawyer deriving much happiness and personal satisfaction from his work. He enjoyed the kind of payback I was looking for in a career. Ironically my brother died at the age of 35.

On the right path

In 1977 she finally took a step toward the Bar by enrolling in the University of West Los Angeles Law School—still without actually practicing law in mind. “You might say I did it mainly to have something worthwhile to do. Nothing more,” Nancy stated.

That “something” turned into a serious interest in the law, which blossomed into graduating with high honors; passing the bar the first time around; and subsequently launching a private practice.

The private practice part of her transformation was the only alternative. Jobs at most law firms were rarely open to inexperienced family law practitioners. That, at this point, defined Nancy’s professional life to a T.

A can-do lawyer

Without doubt, going it alone was the right decision. It was the key to the opening chapter of a success story. During the next 12 years the practice grew steadily. So did the question of its identity. The end of that period was Decision Time.

Nancy’s practice included both family law and juvenile dependency. To be determined was: should Nancy Rabin Brucker Esq. continue to practice in both areas or was Juvenile Dependency where it could do the most good, bringing maximum satisfaction to its CEO?

On this issue, as in so many others, Nancy chalked up one more wise decision. Juvenile Dependency won out, as did countless Los Angeles area families with legal problems—then and now.

But skillful management of her law firm is only part of Nancy’s success story. She also serves as an appellate attorney, receiving court appointments from the Court Of Appeal for indigent parents in juvenile dependencies.

This is in addition to representing parents, foster parents and relatives in the trial courts.

Finally, she has been a consultant for “California Juvenile Dependency Practice,” published by Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB).

Ready when needed

Clearly, Nancy’s record of service is remarkably extensive. For many people its most meaningful commitment is a pledge that all clients will have ready access to her around the clock.

To assure service, each client is given Nancy’s cell phone number. She thinks of this as “a teddy bear program for our clientele. It’s a service they deserve.”

Making a good thing better

According to Nancy, families involved in Juvenile Dependency cases deserve a number of other expanded services as well. And she is behind them one hundred percent. Among the most essential are:

-More social workers to assist the families.

-More funds allotted to maintaining children receiving in-home care.

-More systems for therapeutic health services.

-More financial help to Comfort for Court Kids.

It’s all quite clear that in representing her clients, Nancy Rabin Brucker represents the best of her profession as well.

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