Los Angeles attorney Pamela Wright’s career has taken her from handling toxic tort and civil litigation cases, to family law, and now, to juvenile dependency law, representing abused and neglected children in foster care and helping them get the care they need.
“Their brave hearts inspire me to do what I do,” said Wright, RLAW’91.
At the Children’s Law Center (CLC) of California, Wright represents children who have endured some very difficult situations in their young lives. She has clients who are babies born with a positive drug toxicology. Other clients have suffered physical abuse, sexual abuse, and have witnessed domestic violence involving their parents. She has worked with some clients who are commercially sexually exploited children.
Wright is among a team of more than 275 lawyers, paralegals, and investigators at the CLC who represent more than 30,000 children in foster care in Los Angeles, Placer, and Sacramento counties.
After graduating from Rutgers Law School’s location in Camden, Wright moved to California for a 2-year judicial clerkship with the San Diego Superior Court, followed by a year at the Lane Powell Spears Lubersky law firm handling toxic tort and civil litigation cases, and then two years handling cases for Wells Fargo Bank.
For 15 years, Wright was a family law attorney in the Los Angeles/Beverly Hills area handling divorces, paternity, and child custody cases, but one day she became interested in children’s rights.
“I was handling my first juvenile dependency law case representing a grandparent and saw an attorney give a child a teddy bear,” said Wright. “I found out that the person who gave the child a teddy bear was a children’s lawyer. I knew right then that I wanted to do that, too.”
When working with children, she tries to connect with them so that they will feel comfortable sharing details about what is happening at home or in other areas of their lives.
“Sometimes, I’ll share a story or play with blocks, cars, or a ball with my clients to encourage them and help them feel more comfortable during an interview in the courthouse,” said Wright.
Some of the situations are heartbreaking, but Wright said it is rewarding for her to be able to help advocate for children in court.
In the summer of 2016, Wright was in Philadelphia to attend a National Association of Counsel for Children conference, to speak about the impact of compassion fatigue on lawyers. The way she de-stresses is by taking time to relax through yoga, meditation, and going for walks through her favorite park.
While in the Delaware Valley, she visited the Rutgers-Camden campus for the first time since she graduated more than 25 years ago.
“I saw some of my old classrooms, some of the new classrooms, the law library which I love, and new areas added on since I’ve been gone,” said Wright. “I was reminded of how much I love Rutgers.”
Wright, a Las Vegas native, came to Rutgers in 1988. Her ex-husband is from New Jersey and they moved to South Jersey after getting out of the military. Wright served in the Army for three years and believes her military experience was an asset in law school. “I learned a lot about being disciplined in the Army and that definitely helped me in attending law school full-time as a single mom.”
While Wright was in law school, her mother lived with her to care for her three-year-old daughter.
“At Rutgers, I was given the opportunity to make a way for myself in the world,” said Wright. “I received a world class education at Rutgers and I use these legal skills every day to protect children and keep them safe so they can have a happy, healthy life.”
As a hobby, Wright is the author of two children’s books. She began writing the books when her now 20-year-old and 16-year-old sons were younger. Albert the Grumpy Crocodile was published in 2016 and Albert the Alphabet Book was published last month.