In our final Meet the Team interview, learn more about attorney Annabel Murray. As our team grows, you can be sure you’ll see more posts too. Until then, please comment what other kinds of posts you’d like to see in the future!

“I always knew I wanted to work with kids

  1. Why did you choose Family Law?

Very early on in my life I’d wanted to be a child psychologist. I’d also thought about social work. At the heart of it, I always knew I wanted to work with kids—I’d always felt like that would be something that would make me really happy.

My dad always talked to me about going to law school. He thought I’d make a good lawyer, and I started to like that idea more and more. When I realized I could have a career in child advocacy (working directly with kids and practicing law) I decided to attend Law School at California Western in San Diego, where I’m from.

“we operate like a family”

2. Why choose the Children’s Law Center?

We’re a great place for people going through difficult situations because we operate as one team, we operate like a family. A super supportive family. People know pretty quickly that we really care about them, their children, and their individual situations.

People are often surprised by how much the legal path shifts when they put the needs and goals of their children first. The focus of their case moves away from the old model of parent vs. parent and more on their short and long term goals for their children. 

We’ve got our clients’ backs when we know they’re focusing on the best interest of their children.

“Spending time outside is my hobby, really”

3. Hobbies and Interests?

My main hobbies are water sports, especially surfing and stand-up paddling. I also love to hike. Spending time outside is my hobby, really.

The typical dynamics of family law mean we are constantly shifting, thinking, and negotiating. We spend a lot of time in high-pressure situations where we have to be super focused and analytical, so getting outside helps to rejuvenate me and give me perspective. I’m fortunate to live in Hawaii, where I can get outside every day.

“you have to remember to take care of yourself so you can keep helping”

4. How do you maintain or create work-life balance?

I have a pretty good work-life balance. We are really flexible because of our team approach to our cases.  Because we have such a solid team, and we can all count on each other, if anyone needs a day off to rejuvenate or spend time with family, the rest of the team is able to do whatever work is necessary. 

We know it is really important to take breaks and to avoid getting burned out.  Compassion fatigue is definitely a thing, and when you’re in a helping profession, you have to remember to take care of yourself so you can keep helping.

“[it’s] a systemic shift, in terms of our ethical obligations, that will take some work”

5. What are your goals for the firm and in general?

From a work perspective I would like to hire more attorneys and expand our litigation practice.

We provide an amazing, child-focused service to our clients and I would like to see our style of practice available to even more people.  I’d like to expand our capacity for providing low cost legal services for people who are working hard on behalf of children, for instance, folks who are caring for relative children, or taking children in when a parent cannot care for them. 

I also want to see our training programs expand, which goes hand-in-hand with growing our team. I’d like to expand our ability to provide training for attorneys in what we call “Best Interest Legal Advocacy,” (“BILA”) so that attorneys are comfortable focusing on the developmental and psychological needs of children throughout their cases and also comfortable counseling their client’s regarding those needs. 

Zealous Advocacy and BILA

In law school we’re told that it is our job to zealously advocate for our client’s position. We strongly believe that zealous advocacy should be done in the context of the best interest of children. That’s a systemic shift, in terms of our ethical obligations, that will take some work.

Focusing on BILA means shifting towards an inclusion of children’s interests within the paradigm of zealous advocacy. When you combine BILA with custody and divorce, you’ve now got a situation where you’re advocating for both, rather than one at the cost of the other.

“I just became ‘Tutu Bell‘”

6. Fun fact about you?

My husband and I have five kids ranging in age from 20 to 28.  I just became “Tutu Bell” to baby June, who was born in September.

7. Favorite Saying?

“A good idea without execution is just imagination.”

“I’m looking for ways I can help”

8. How are you staying positive during Shelter-in-Place orders?

I’m trying to maintain some perspective so that I don’t completely freak out. I’m looking for ways I can help, even small ways, and I’m trying to connect with friends that I’ve lost contact with because of how busy life had gotten before we were told to stay home.

We’re also taking advantage of this time to focus on different areas of the CLC, (such as our Facebook page and Website) that we just haven’t had time for. I always remember how lucky I am to live in Hawaii and to be able to spend time in the ocean or up in the mountains.

Staying positive can be difficult, but I just keep trying to do what I’m able to do to help and to stay connected with my family, our CLC team, and nature.

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