Mimi Laver, Director, Legal Representation Projects
American Bar Association

Changing practice and having an impact – these themes rise to the surface in the work that matters most to Mimi Laver. They are what drew her to law as a career. “I thought I could have more impact with a law degree,” says Mimi. From giving parents in the child welfare system quality legal representation to helping agency caseworkers become more sensitive to LGBTQ youth in foster care, creating positive change is a driving force in Mimi’s work.

When Mimi came to the ABA Center on Children and the Law from Philadelphia in 1998, she brought with her 8 years representing the child welfare agency in court. That direct advocacy and a judicial clerkship gave Mimi a practical grounding in real-world issues for children and families. Her path at the Center has broadened to national advocacy, training, and policy work throughout the country. Her perspective has also shifted to champion rights of underserved child welfare system participants.

Charged with convening the first national steering committee on parent representation, Mimi put her agency attorney hat down to take up the cause for parents. That work has led to national parent attorney representation standards, a Center-based parent representation project, and a professional network for parent attorneys. Mimi’s ability to see a need, take a different view, and get others to change their view has helped move the field forward. At the first parent attorney conference hosted by the ABA – one of her proudest moments – “there was so much energy and passion among people who are usually at the losing end of things,” recalls Mimi.

In her spare time, spending time with her family, traveling, and reading are Mimi’s greatest loves. Combined pleasure and work trips have taken Mimi to 47 states – just three to go. Fiction provides the escape she sometimes needs. Although, a good memoir – like Bryan Stephenson’s Just Mercy – that inspires and leaves an impression is an equal draw.

If you’ve met Mimi she’s likely inspired, you and made an impact. And if you haven’t, her work has likely changed some aspect of what you do for the better, or will.