Some caseworkers decide they want to continue fighting for child and family rights through the legal system. These people generally attend graduate or law school and then go on to be family court lawyers, judges, or forensic social workers. See below for stories from some people that chose this path.

Karen Simmons, MPA, JD, Executive Director, Children's Law Center

Karen Simmons is a graduate of the City University School of Law. She is currently the Executive Director of the Children’s Law Center (CLC). CLC is a not for profit law firm that represents children on custody, visitation, guardianship, family offense, paternity and connected child protective cases in the Family Court and the Integrated Domestic Violence Parts of the Supreme Court in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island. Karen is also an Adjunct Professor at Brooklyn Law School.

Karen was recently recognized by Mayor Bloomberg as 31 women making a difference in New York City and part of “NYC WOMEN: MAKE IT HERE, MAKE IT HAPPEN” film series that is part of the Women’s History Month Celebration.

Karen began her career as a caseworker at New York City Administration for Children’s Services. She later co-founded a not-for-profit, Legal Information for Families Today (LIFT). LIFT was created to help unrepresented litigants by providing them legal information on how to understand and navigate Family Court. This organization was incubated at Legal Services and now operates out of every Family Court in New York City. Prior to coming to CLC, Karen was the Attorney in Charge of the Brooklyn and Staten Island trial offices of the Legal Aid Society Juvenile Rights Practice. Karen was a recipient of an IOLA Fellowship. She used her fellowship to work on Family Preservation issues while at Legal Services. Karen was also the Director of The Bronx Criminal Court Drug Treatment Court and prior to law school worked for the Human Resources Administration and the Child Welfare Administration (now NYC Children’s Services) first as a Case Worker and then as an Analyst.

Mentoring and crafting work life balance are important topics for Karen and an important extension of her work. She mentors numerous students, attorneys, and non attorneys. Karen formerly served as the Board Chair of LIFT and The Brooklyn Young Mothers’ Collective (BYMC). Karen also served on the New York City Community Education Council (CEC). She is a member of the City Bar, Diversity Coalition, and the New York State Office of Children and Family Services Independent Review Board.

Karen has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from City University (John Jay College) and her Bachelor’s Degree from Duke University.