An endowed chair has been established at Mitchell Hamline School of Law that aims to position the school as a leader in advancing the protection of children in the courts and through public policy reform.
The Justice Helen M. Meyer Chair in Child Protection will support teaching, research, and the development of best practices that yield the most benefits for children at risk because of abuse, neglect, or other adverse circumstances. Special attention will be given to enhancing children’s well-being through the strengthening of their families.
“It’s important to recognize and support groundbreaking work in child protection practice and policy. This school has been on the cutting edge of training, studying, and advocating for best practices in this field,” said Meyer, a 1983 graduate of the law school and former chair of the board of trustees.
The new chair has been awarded to Professor Joanna Woolman, director of Mitchell Hamline’s Institute to Transform Child Protection and a leader in innovation and reform in the area of child protection. In addition to direct legal representation in cases where families are at risk, the institute has worked on legislative and policy initiatives in Minnesota to improve the child welfare system. Woolman is also an active member of a national network of child welfare reform leaders.
“It is an honor to receive this recognition,” Woolman said. “I applaud Justice Meyer’s incredible commitment to working to improve the lives of children and families in Minnesota. With this support, the institute’s work training students and lawyers in innovative trauma-informed practice can grow, as can our ability to work on child-welfare system reform in Minnesota.”
The chair was created by Meyer and William Bieber in honor of Meyer’s public service, commitment, and passion for ensuring the best outcomes for children who end up in the courts. During her 10 years on the Minnesota Supreme Court, she served as chair of the Minnesota Judicial Council’s Workgroup on Legal Representation of Parents in Child Protection Cases and as the Court’s liaison to the Judicial Branch’s Children’s Justice Initiative (CJI). She and Bieber created the Child Protection Clinic at the law school in 2010, aimed at preserving families when it is safe to do so and igniting in students a passion for working in the field.
The Justice Helen M. Meyer Chair in Child Protection is the fifth endowed chair at Mitchell Hamline. The school also has nine endowed professorships.