Skip to main content

Children's Law Institute (19th Annual)


Speaker(s): Cynthia Godsoe, Deborah Lee, Eve Stotland, Gary Solomon, Hal Silverman, Hon. Clark V. Richardson, Hon. Jacqueline B. Deane, Ira L. Eras, Jennifer M. Gilroy Ruiz, Kathleen M. Maloney, Kim Susser, Lawrence J. Braunstein, Lisa Rodin, Randy A. Hertz, Rebecca A. Horwitz, Susan Kingsland, Wanjiro Gethaiga
Recorded on: Jul. 29, 2016
PLI Program #: 150490

Deborah Lee is a Supervising Attorney within the Immigration Law Unit of the Legal Aid Society, where she represents a wide-range of immigrants before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Executive Office for Immigration Review.  Prior to joining The Legal Aid Society, Deborah Lee was a Senior Staff Attorney with Sanctuary for Families’ Immigration Intervention Project, where she represented foreign-born victims of domestic violence, trafficking and gender violence.  Her previous experience includes serving as Supervising Attorney for the Children’s Legal Project at Americans for Immigrant Justice (previously known as Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center) and a Jesuit Refugee Service Fellow with Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC).  Ms. Lee frequently trains and writes on immigration legal remedies for vulnerable populations.  She has published articles in the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Immigration & Nationality Handbook, as well as a practice advisory with AILA on immigrant youth issues.  Ms. Lee is a graduate of Swarthmore College, Harvard Divinity School, and Georgetown University Law Center. 


Eve Stotland is the Director of Legal Services at The Door – A Center of Alternatives, Inc. Each year The Door provides 9,000 young people with health care, homeless drop-in services, college advisement, career development, supportive housing, arts programming, and nutritious meals - all for free, confidentially, and under one roof.  The Door’s Legal Services Center represents low-income youth in matters such as immigration, family law, and public benefits. In particular, the Center is known for its leadership in advocating for undocumented youth. Eve serves on the New York State court system’s Advisory Council on Immigration Issues in Family Court and is a member of the Advisory Committee for the American Bar Association’s Homeless Youth Legal Network. Eve graduated from Brown University and Yale Law School.


Ira L. Eras has been of counsel to Warren & Warren, P.C. since 1987; he has been trial counsel since 1996. Mr. Eras graduated in 1987 from St. John’s University Law School with a Juris Doctor degree, and in 1983 from the State University of New York at Binghamton with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Since joining the firm, Mr. Eras has gained broad experience in the practice of representing foster care agencies. He has represented individuals in the Family Court in custody, child neglect, adoption, child support, and termination of parental rights and has accepted assignments from the Family Court to represent children. In addition, Mr. Eras has a civil practice, representing individuals in personal injury matters, wills and estates, and residential real estate transacations.

For the past ten years, Mr. Eras has lectured regarding legal issues related to foster care litigation to attorneys in the field, to professionals involved with child protective work, and to foster and prospective adoptive parents.

In his career, as trial counsel, Mr. Eras has successfully prosecuted hundreds of cases in the Family and Appellate Courts in the State of New York. He is highly regarded by the firm, his peers, and the Bench as a competent, skilled, and zealous litigator.


Jennifer Gilroy Ruiz is Deputy Chief of the NYC Law Department’s Family Court Division.  Ms. Gilroy Ruiz oversees the operations of the Division’s Juvenile Delinquency and Interstate Child Support Units in the family courts located in the five boroughs of New York City.  She manages a staff of more than 100 lawyers, support professionals and students.  In addition, Ms. Gilroy Ruiz works closely with state and city agencies that affect the practice of the Division.  These agencies include NYC Department of Probation, Administration for Children’s Services, Mental Health Services, and Police Department; NYS Office of Child Support Enforcement and Office of Children and Family Services and several non-governmental and community based organizations.  Ms. Gilroy Ruiz oversees the training in the Division and also conducts trainings of lawyers and support staff.  She has also lectured at the County Attorneys Association of NY (CAASNY); the New York Prosecutor’s Training Institute (NYPTI) the New York State Judicial Training institute; Practising Law Institute  (PLI) and the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Prior to her current position Ms. Gilroy Ruiz served for 9 years as the Borough Chief of the Queens office of the Family Court Division of the New York City Law Department.  Ms. Gilroy Ruiz has also served as an Assistant District Attorney in Kings County, an Assistant Corporation Counsel and as a Court Attorney to a Family Court Judge.

Ms. Gilroy Ruiz has also served as an officer in the Queens County Bar Association where she was Vice President in 2015.  She oversaw the Juvenile Justice Committee and has served on the Judiciary, New Member and Academy of Law committees of the Bar Association.  Ms. Gilroy Ruiz is a graduate of St. Francis College and St. John’s University School of Law and she has worked an adjunct professor at both the undergraduate and law school levels.


Kim Susser graduated George Washington University National Law Center in 1989 and is currently serving as a Visiting Professor and Director of the Family Law Clinic at Touro Law Center.  She is also the Director of the Matrimonial and Family Law Unit at the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG).

Prior to working at NYLAG, Kim was the staff attorney at Victim Services (now known as Safe Horizon) where she represented victims of domestic violence in Family Court.  From 1990 until 1995, Kim was a trial attorney in the Juvenile Rights Division of the Legal Aid Society where she represented children in child protective and delinquency proceedings in Brooklyn.

Kim was a member of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York and was Secretary of the Domestic Violence Task Force.  Kim is also an active member of the Lawyer’s Committee Against Domestic Violence and was the 2006 recipient of their annual In the Trenches award.  In 2009, she received the Kathryn A. McDonald Award for Excellence in Service to the Family Court, and in 2015 she received the Legal Services Award, both from the NYC Bar Association.  She published articles in the Fordham Urban Law Journal and the Lawyer’s Manual on Domestic Violence regarding orders of protection and custody issues in domestic violence cases.


Lawrence Jay Braunstein is a partner in the law firm of Braunstein & Zuckerman, Esqs, located in White Plains, New York where he practices in the areas of Matrimonial, Family and Collaborative Law and related civil and criminal litigation, with an expertise in child custody litigation and litigation involving allegations of child sexual and physical abuse.

He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers; a Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers; Past Chair of the New York State Bar Association Child Custody Committee; Past Chair of the Westchester County Bar Association Family Law Section; and Past President of the Association of Collaborative Lawyers of Rockland/Westchester. He is also a member of the Board of Directors, and Vice President of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children-N.Y (APSAC- NY). Chapter; a member of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) and a member of the Program Committee of the AFCC; Co-President Elect of the AFCC-NY Chapter; and a member of the Expert Faculty of the International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN). He serves on the Board of Editors of the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma, and is a contributor to the Journal of Child Custody.

He is a nationally and internationally recognized expert who regularly lectures in the areas of child sexual abuse, physical abuse and abusive head trauma (shaken baby), child custody litigation, expert witness testimony, courtroom psychology and trial procedures.

He is also an Adjunct Professor of Law at Hofstra University School of Law, Hempstead, New York where he teaches Child Abuse and Neglect and Collaborative Family Law. Since 2007 he has been named as one of the “Top Attorneys in the New York Metro Area” as published in the New York Times Magazine’s Super Lawyer Section, and one of the top Twenty-Five “Super Lawyers” in the Westchester County, New York area. . In 2014 he was rated “AV Preeminent” by the Martindale Hubbell Peer Review Ratings, indicating his high level of ethical standards and professional ability, generated from evaluations by other members of the bar and the judiciary in the United States and Canada.


Lisa Rodin is the Supervising Attorney in the Family Court Legal Services, Queens Litigation Unit for the Administration for Children’s Services. She oversees the legal representation of the Administration for Children’s Services in Queens County Family Court. Lisa works in partnership with Queens FCLS, other divisions of ACS, the courthouse community, and community organizations to improve outcomes for children and achieve permanency for families. 

Lisa has also served as the Supervising Attorney in the FCLS Staten Island Litigation Unit. Prior to that, Lisa had been an Assistant Supervising Attorney in the Queens FCLS Court Unit since 2001. Lisa first came to ACS in 1996 as a staff attorney in Brooklyn.

Prior to joining ACS, Lisa had spent three years as an attorney in the private sector. She received her bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton and her law degree from New York Law School.


The Hon. Clark V. Richardson has been a Family Court judge since his appointment to the bench in 1995 by the Hon. Rudolf Giuliani, serving in Kings, Richmond, and New York counties as well as serving as the Supervising Judge of Bronx County for 10 years. He was reappointed by the Hon. Michael Bloomberg in 2004 and then again by the Hon. Bill de Blasio in 2014.

Upon graduation from Yale University and Cornell Law School, Judge Richardson joined the Law Department of the City of New York in the Family Court division and became the Borough Chief of the Bronx office before ascending to the bench.

Judge Richardson's professional activities have included, amongst others, serving on the Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children, presided over by the Hon. Judith Kaye, former Chief Judge of the State of New York; on the Advisory Council of the Judicial Consultation Project for Infants, Children and their Families, of the Jewish Board of Children and Family Services; and the Interdisciplinary Forum on Mental Health and Family Law.

He has received, inter alia, an award from the Jewish Board of Children and Family Services for dedicated service to children in the community and the Schonfeld Award presented by the Society for Adolescent Psychiatry.


Hal Silverman is the Director of Litigation for Lawyers for Children, Inc. Prior to his position with Lawyers for Children, Inc., Mr. Silverman was a staff attorney with the Juvenile Rights Division of The Legal Aid Society. He has worked in the field of child advocacy for over twenty-five years. Mr. Silverman has represented children in proceedings involving issues of neglect, abuse, termination of parental rights, custody, adoption, PINS, and juvenile delinquency. Prior presentations include "Legal and Mental Health Collaboration in Child Maltreatment and Custody Issues"; "Domestic Violence - The Effects on Children"; "Mediation in Family  Court": "Conflicts of Interests - Ethical Responsibilities of an Attorney for the Child" and "Broken Adoptions - A Child's Return to the Foster Care System."


Gary Solomon is the Director of Legal Support for The Legal Aid Society's Juvenile Rights Practice. In that capacity he participates in the training of staff and acts as a supervisor, consultant and advisor to staff; prepares practice memoranda and other continuing legal education materials and maintains the Juvenile Rights Practice’s electronic legal research system; and works closely with the Juvenile Rights Practice’s Appeals Unit and, in that capacity, has handled appeals raising important practice issues and prepared and edited amicus briefs.

Mr. Solomon participates in New York State Appellate Division-sponsored training programs for assigned counsel, and Unified Court System-sponsored training programs for judges and court attorneys.

Mr. Solomon prepares the weekly JRD Newsletter, a compilation of annotated court decisions which is made available to judges, lawyers and other professionals throughout New York state and elsewhere, and is the principal author of Volumes One, Two and Three of the Practice Manual for Children’s Attorneys. He has authored chapters on child abuse and neglect and termination of parental rights proceedings which appear in West Publishing's New York Family Court Practice.

In 2003, Mr. Solomon was awarded the Howard A. Levine Award For Excellence in Juvenile Justice And Child Welfare by the New York State Bar Association, Committee on Children and the Law.  In 2006, Mr. Solomon received the Kathryn A. McDonald Award For Excellence in Service to Family Court from the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. In 2007, Mr. Solomon received the Orison Marden Award For Outstanding Service and Dedication to the Organization and to the Clients from The Legal Aid Society of New York City.


Cynthia Godsoe is an Associate Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School. Professor Godsoe teaches courses in family law, criminal law, children and the law, professional responsibility and public interest lawyering. Her scholarship centers on the regulation of intimate behavior and gender roles through family and criminal law, encompassing topics including the path to marriage equality, the designation of victims and offenders in intimate violence, and the criminalization of non-conforming girls. Her recent work has appeared in the Yale Law Journal ForumTulane Law Review, and California Law Review Circuit, among others. The media, including the New York Times and Time Magazine, have consulted Professor Godsoe on juvenile justice and family law issues.

Before joining the Brooklyn Law School faculty, Professor Godsoe represented children and youth in impact litigation and individual cases in juvenile justice, education and child protection matters as an attorney at the Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Rights Division and Advocates for Children, among others. Following law school, she clerked for Judge Edward Korman in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York and was a Skadden Public Interest Fellow. She was chair of the Juvenile Justice Committee of the New York City Bar from 2008-2011 and is currently on the board of Girls Education and Mentoring Service (GEMS), an organization serving girls and young women who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking. Professor Godsoe has an AB magna cum laude with distinction from Harvard College, and a JD cum laude from Harvard Law School.


Kathleen Maloney is a member of the Youth Project at the Legal Aid Society’s Immigration Law Unit.  The Youth Project runs a monthly Juvenile Docket at 26 Federal Plaza.  Kathleen represents unaccompanied immigrant children in federal courts, family courts and administrative proceedings.  In addition to providing direct representation to children in immigration court who are facing removal from the United States, Kathleen conducts outreach in immigrant communities.  She has taught an externship at Columbia Law School on Unaccompanied Immigrant.  She also provides trainings for judges, pro bono lawyers, law students and city officials.  Prior to this, Kathleen represented over a thousand children who were abused, neglected or abandoned by their caretakers.  She advocated for her clients outside of court in all areas, including:  housing, education, immigration and the provision of social services.  Kathleen has been with The Legal Aid Society since 2004.  Kathleen is a Certified Child Welfare Law Specialist and admitted in New York.  She has her J.D. from Wake Forest University School of Law.  While attending Wake Forest, she was presented with the prestigious Deans’ Leadership Award for the contributions she made to her law school and the surrounding community.  Kathleen received her B.A. from American University.


Randy Hertz is the Vice Dean of N.Y.U. School of Law and the director of the law school’s clinical program.  He has been at the law school since 1985, and regularly teaches the Juvenile Defender Clinic and a simulation course titled “Criminal Litigation.”  Before joining the N.Y.U. faculty, he worked at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, in the juvenile, criminal, appellate and special litigation divisions.  He writes in the areas of criminal and juvenile justice and is the co-author, with Professor James Liebman of Columbia Law School, of a two-volume treatise titled “Federal Habeas Corpus Law and Practice”; the co-author, with Professor Anthony G. Amsterdam of N.Y.U. Law School, of “Trial Manual for the Defense of Criminal Cases”; and the co-author, with Professor Amsterdam and N.Y.U. Law Professor Martin Guggenheim, of “Trial Manual for Defense Attorneys in Juvenile Delinquency Cases.” He is an editor-in-chief of the Clinical Law Review.  In the past, he has served as the Chair of the Council of the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar; a consultant to the MacCrate Task Force on Law Schools and the Profession: Narrowing the Gap; a reporter for the Wahl Commission on ABA Accreditation of Law Schools; a reporter for the New York Professional Education Project; and the chair of the AALS Standing Committee on Clinical Legal Education.  He received NYU Law School’s Podell Distinguished Teaching Award in 2010; the Equal Justice Initiative’s Award for Advocacy for Equal Justice in 2009; the Association of American Law Schools’ William Pincus Award for Outstanding Contributions to Clinical Legal Education in 2004; the NYU Award for Distinguished Teaching by a University Professor in 2003; and the American Bar Association’s Livingston Hall award for advocacy in the juvenile justice field in 2000.


Rebecca Horwitz has been with the Center for Family Representation since 2008. As the current Manager of Government Affairs and a Senior Staff Attorney, Ms. Horwitz assists with development efforts, including CFR’s expansion into new areas of practice like housing court, criminal court, and immigration work, conducts trainings for practitioners on a local and national level, and helps oversee CFR’s policy and advocacy efforts. During her time at CFR, Ms. Horwitz has been a member of the Young Parents Project, successfully argued appeals in the First Department and Second Departments, and assisted with trainings and the supervising of interns and new staff. Ms. Horwitz is the co-author of “Presentment vs. Protection: When Youths in Foster Care Become Respondents in Child Welfare Proceedings,” published in the January-February 2012 edition of the Shriver Center’s Clearinghouse Review: Journal of Poverty Law and Policy.  Ms. Horwitz received her J.D. from New York Law School and while there, interned at the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, Lansner & Kubitschek, and the ACLU Racial Justice Project. She also spent a year as a member of the New York Law School Urban Law Clinic working on employment discrimination, special education, and school suspension cases. Prior to law school Ms. Horwitz focused on civil liberties by working with the National Council of Jewish Women and the Anti-Defamation League. She graduated from The George Washington University.


Susan Kingsland is the Social Worker in the Immigrant Youth Representation Project at The Legal Aid Society. In this capacity, she works with children and adolescents who are in removal proceedings, mostly unaccompanied minors from Central America, helping them enroll in school, access mental health resources, and obtain medical insurance. Susan provides supportive counseling, crisis intervention and ongoing safety assessments to vulnerable youth clients, collaborating with legal practitioners, child welfare workers, educators and psychologists. Prior to Legal Aid, Susan worked at several nonprofit organizations addressing homelessness and affordable housing issues, chronic mental illness and HIV/AIDS; creating programming for individuals in crisis and living with domestic violence. Susan has experience working as an interpreter for victims of human trafficking from Mexico, and has participated in delegations to El Salvador and Honduras. Susan completed Coro Leadership New York in 2012, and was a member of the Leadership Caucus at CRE in 2013. Susan received her Masters in Social Work from Hunter College School of Social Work at CUNY.


The Honorable Jacqueline Deane was appointed to the Family Court bench by Mayor de Blasio in February of 2015 and she currently presides over a child abuse and neglect part in Kings County Family Court. Prior to her appointment, Judge Deane had been a legal advocate for young people in the NYC juvenile and criminal justice systems for 30 years. During that time, she held various positions within the Juvenile Rights Practice of the Legal Aid Society (“JRP”) including Deputy Attorney in Charge of the Practice. JRP represents children ages 7 to 16 who are charged with juvenile delinquency petitions in all of the NYC Family Courts as well as children who are the subjects of abuse and neglect proceedings. Judge Deane’s last position at JRP was as the Director of Delinquency Training and Practice where she oversaw supervision, training and policy development in the area of juvenile delinquency.  She was also an Adjunct Clinical Professor at New York University School of Law for almost 20 years. Beginning in 2006, Judge Deane developed and taught the Children’s Rights Clinic which focused in part on the representation of LGBTQ youth and she previously taught and supervised students in the year-long Juvenile Defender Clinic. She was the first Director of the Northeast Regional Juvenile Defender Center for NY, NJ, PA and DE when the Center was housed at JRP. Judge Deane has also trained and supervised new attorneys for the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem and was a staff attorney with the Criminal Defense Division of Legal Aid.


Wanjiro Gethaiga, LMSW, Co-Director of the Manhattan Practice/Social Work Supervisor, joined CFR in 2004.  She is responsible for the supervision of MSWs/LMSWs and bachelor level graduates as well as parent advocate staff. While at CFR, Ms. Gethaiga has worked in several workgroups alongside other institutional providers to improve visiting for families, parent education, and conferencing.  She directly supervises social work, family advocate and parent advocate staff.  Ms. Gethaiga frequently conducts in-service trainings at CFR on Team Communication, the Role of the Social Worker and Advocacy at Conferences.  Ms. Gethaiga has provided technical assistance to practitioners from Iowa.  In 2011, Ms. Gethaiga and Ms. Fassler, Co Director of the Queens Practice/Litigation Supervisor, co-wrote an article for the ABA Child Law Practice titled “Representing Parents During Child Welfare Investigations: Precourt Advocacy Strategies.   Prior to joining CFR, Ms. Gethaiga worked in California at Casita de San Jose, a group home for young children, for three years, and at Florence Crittenton, a group home for pregnant and parenting young mothers, for one year. In New York, she was a foster care worker at Talbot Perkins Children’s Services for two years where she worked with parents and children who were the subject of child protective and termination proceedings.  Ms. Gethaiga graduated from the New York University School of Social Work and the California State University, Fullerton.