Pro Bono Volunteer of the Month – January 2017
Shea A. Backus of Backus, Carranza & Burden
Shea Backus is a Shareholder at Backus, Carranza & Burden and she practices primarily in the areas of civil and commercial litigation. She received her undergraduate degree in Management Science from the University of California, San Diego, Revelle College and her law degree from Arizona State University, Sandra Day O’ Connor College of Law. She is certified in Indian Law and has been practicing law for over 10 years.
Shea began volunteering with Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada in 2012 and focused her pro bono service on representing children in abuse and neglect cases. In addition, to representing children, Shea volunteers for the Family Law Ask-A-Lawyer Program and mentors attorneys at the firm who are interested in taking pro bono cases of their own. Prior to volunteering with Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, Shea performed pro bono services for those with limited income who were referred to her from church or the Native American Bar Association.
When we asked Shea why she does pro bono work, she responded that she truly became a lawyer to help people. She said, “Those with limited means cannot afford legal representation when such is greatly needed. While our judges exemplify patience for those representing themselves in proper person, those individuals, in most situations, truly don’t have a grasp of the law or procedure. Thus, the ability to be able to assist someone with limited means affords that individual the same opportunities as the other side.”
In speaking of a memorable pro bono case, Shea mentioned a teenage girl she represented for over 4 years. Over the 4-year period, this teenager was placed in 15 different foster placements and 3 different fictive-kin placements before she was returned to her mother’s care. Shea was one of the only consistent figures during the most difficult period of her client’s life. She was able to secure assistance from the Court when her client needed medical care for both her physical and mental health. Thanks to Shea’s advocacy, this child always had a voice in court and understood her attorney’s duty of confidentiality. Shea said, “While I may have made a slight change in her life, she had a big impact on mine and my understanding of mental health, child abuse and neglect and the juvenile justice system.”
For her commitment to representing the rights and wishes of children in foster care and for the time she has dedicated to the Ask-A-Lawyer program, we honor Shea Backus as the January Pro Bono Attorney of the Month.