Volunteer Attorneys play a critical role in keeping kids safe
We did a short interview with Jim Martin, one of Family Advocates’ pro-bono attorneys in Ada County. We currently have 65 generous attorneys who give of their time to help with child protection cases and we are actively recruiting more in order to ensure that we can take all of the CASA cases referred to us throughout the year.
Where are you from? I was born in Arizona but my family moved to Weiser, Idaho, to work on a ranch and run a rodeo stock contracting business when I was in the 6th Grade. Never found any reason to leave this great state that I’ve now made home for the last 40 something years (please don’t do the math, I feel old as it is J.)
Where do you call home now? Boise has been my home for about 35+ years since I attended that extraordinary institution of higher learning, Boise State University. I did have a 3-year hiatus from Boise when I opted to go enjoy the beautiful campus and surroundings in Moscow while I attend law school there and cheered on any team in any sport that played against the Vandals. Blue and Orange baby, all the way!
What led you to law school? I saw how hard my folks and family struggled to make a living in the farming, ranching, rodeo, and truck driving businesses and knew I needed something different than that. I also had a good family friend who was a lawyer who took me under his wings a bit and got a glimpse of what he did, his practice and career, and it intrigued me to point that I was committed to being a lawyer long before I graduated from high school.
What led you to Family Advocates? Just the opportunity to try and help kids. I’ve got an admitted weak spot when it comes to kids in crisis and need. I feel fortunate that I made it through those formative years with a relatively normal life despite my parents being divorced when I was a baby and them not having a very healthy relationship, to say the least. But, I know I still had it so much better than a lot of kids who I see now come into care for a host of issues that are so much more challenging than anything I ever experienced as a kid or as a father of 3 amazing kids. These kids in crisis need our help and protection and I realized after just handling a few CASA cases that it doesn’t take a lot of my time to do a lot of good with the good help of Family Advocates and the GALs I get to work with, who as we all know, actually do the bulk of the hard work and heavy lifting.
Do you have any stories that have stuck with you from working with Family Advocates? It has reiterated to me that there is no more important job in life than raising kids who are the future and we have to give them a fighting chance to succeed in the crazy world. We have to break the cycle when we have opportunities to do so. The key, as you all know and appreciate far better than I, is you can’t let the disappointments we see overtake the successes that are there to be had as well. I love the opportunity to shake a parents’ hand at the end of a case, congratulating them on getting their kids back, and encouraging them to keep up the good work—and then praying, that we don’t see their kids back in care again. I love having those kids coming to that last hearing or one of the hearings towards the end of a case, where they have a smile on their face and are longing for that opportunity to have their mom or dad back in their lives—and we give them that. And if we can’t give them that, we at least put them in a situation with a guardian or an adoption where they have a better chance of being loved and cared for than what they had coming into this process. There is good to be done and Family Advocates provides us that opportunity for which I’m thankful for.