Sarah Parks Delves Into Child Welfare Law as Bergstrom Fellow

Sarah Parks Sarah Parks ('11) came to law school with the goal of becoming an adoption lawyer. After spending the summer working at Pegasus Legal Services for Children as the recipient of a prestigious Bergstrom Fellowship from the University of Michigan, she now sees how she can expand that goal.

At Pegasus, she researched cases and child welfare issues, wrote memos, sat in on court hearings and trials and interviewed witnesses and clients.

"The staff allowed me access to many meetings and I felt like part of the team. I was asked my opinion and perspective on many matters and was provided time to absorb all the information," she says. "I not only learned how to think like an advocate, I learned what it means to work in a nonprofit agency focused on the rights and safety of children."

The fellowship began when Parks joined 25 other Bergstrom Fellows for a three-day training at the University of Michigan Law School. A broad variety of child welfare professionals presented workshops and led panel discussions and the Fellows followed a hypothetical case from investigation to adjudicatory proceedings of termination of parental rights.

Parks, who was an educator before coming to law school, now plans to take courses that enhance her summer experience.

"While I still have a goal of working with children in the foster care system, this fellowship and experience at Pegasus have shown me how I may expand this area and represent children who enter the system because of abuse and neglect," she says.

"Pegasus co-directors Tara Ford and Liz McGrath (`87) made this experience unforgettable and welcoming. They nurtured my interests and challenged me. I look forward to working with them in the future."

In addition to providing externships to UNM law students, Ford often teaches as an adjunct at the law school.