Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles to Begin Search For New Director Today, Board President Says
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
The nonprofit agency that represents most children in Los Angeles Superior Court dependency case will begin searching for a new executive director today, the president of the group’s board said yesterday.
Edward Lazarus said Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles would act “quickly, but not in haste” to name an interim replacement for Miriam Krinsky, who resigned Friday.
Krinsky, a former federal prosecutor who was president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, was unavailable yesterday. But in an e-mail to staff members Friday, she said that she could no longer run day-to-day operations while concentrating on CLC’s “policy and reform agenda.”
Lazarus told the MetNews that Krinsky, whose new title is yet to be determined, will concentrate on external activities such as lobbying and fundraising, while a new executive director will oversee the representation of thousands of young people who are CLC clients.
The board will consider both inside and outside candidates for the interim position, Lazarus said.
The resignation comes after more than two years of controversy regarding the reorganization of CLC, the successor to Dependency Court Legal Services. The organization had operated as three independent legal units, each functioning as a separate law firm, enabling them to represent clients with potentially or actually conflicting interests.
Under the reorganization, however, the independent units are being phased out. Lazarus said the board “certainly expect[s] to continue with the consolidation” but is “open to new ideas about how best to accomplish it “
The former directors of two of the units say they were fired by Krinsky for opposing the consolidation, which they say subjects clients to the loss of their right to conflict-free representation.
The two ex-employees, Anne E. Fragasso and Kenneth P. Sherman, are suing CLC for wrongful termination, age discrimination, violation of the state whistleblower statute, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The organization has moved for summary judgment in the case, and that motion is set to be heard early next year.
Presiding Juvenile Court Judge Michael Nash, who has supported Krinsky and the reorganization, said he did not believe the resignation will affect the court or bring about change in the structure of CLC, which has a contract with the state to provide representation under appointment by the court.
The expiration date of the contract could not be immediately ascertained, but Nash and Lazarus both said it was not imminent.
Nash noted that the state has entered into a separate contract with a group of attorneys headed by Calabassas lawyer Kenneth Krekorian to represent parents in dependency proceedings after Jan. 1. Before the reorganization, the separate units of DCLS/CLC represented parents and children.
The new arrangement, combined with the reorganization of CLC, will provide “stronger representation for children and adults” through “consistent supervision and training and support services” for the attorneys.
Nash added that “much of the griping [about reorganization of CLC] is over the fact of change itself.” While “nobody likes change...hopefully these will not be significant issues in the long term,” he commented.
A former CLC lawyer, who did not want to be quoted by name, said that Krinsky had done much good in the area of external relations. But the reorganization had strengthened her control of the organization at the expense of morale and led to substantial attrition, with experienced lawyers being replaced by those with little background in juvenile law, the attorney said.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company