Laura Faer - Lawyer of the Year

Laura Faer, the Directing Attorney of Public Counsel's Children's Rights Project (CRP), was named Lawyer of the Year by California Lawyer Magazine this month for her leadership on the legal team that tackled one of the nation's most troubled education systems: the Challenger probation camp in Lancaster.  Teachers at Camp Challenger, Los Angeles County's largest probation camp, were reported to be absent in their own classes, to have punished students who asked for instruction and who, in one instance, awarded a high school diploma to a student who was illiterate. 

Faer's work, with CRP staff attorneys Ariel Wander and Benjamin Conway, along with co-counsel Mark Rosenbaum of the ACLU of Southern California and Shawna Parks of the Disability Rights Legal Center, will help thousands of youth in the juvenile justice system.

Faer, Rosenbaum and Parks filed Casey A. v. Jon R. Gundry et al, a class-action lawsuit against Los Angeles County agencies over their failure to educate thousands of youth in the probation system. They won a settlement agreement in November 2010 that will bring national experts to overhaul Camp Challenger.

"We have the opportunity to transform this from one of the worst education systems in the nation to a model for others to follow," said Faer. "We will make sure youth receive the tools to learn to read and write, to gain marketable skills and to successfully return to their communities and schools."

The annual California Lawyer of the Year awards from California Lawyer Magazine, one of the state's most-respected legal publications, recognizes achievements in 23 areas of legal practice. Faer and her co-counsel won for juvenile law, and this is the third award for Public Counsel and its attorneys.