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Pepperdine Caruso Law Class of 2017 Waves Rally Around Court Appointed Special Advocates for the Holiday Season

Pepperdine Caruso Law alumnus Nick Lebherz (JD '17) of DoubleLine Capital LP knows precisely what charity he is going to support this holiday season: CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Los Angeles. Recently, New York Times Columnist Nicholas Kristof (whose annual holiday charity holiday gift guide is widely read and may be found here) highlighted this incredible nonprofit as one of five charities to support in 2020. As a member of the CASA of Los Angeles's Board of Directors, Nick is used to spotlighting its critical work to his fellow Pepperdine Caruso Law Waves and inviting them to take part in an effort to transform the lives of children in LA County's foster care system.

Nick became involved with CASA during law school at Pepperdine Caruso Law when his boss at the time asked him to consider joining the Board of Directors. Nick began regularly attending CASA's annual fundraising gala, inviting a bevy of fellow Waves with him to the event. The group of Alex Caruso (JD '17), Neil Eddington (JD '17), Alia Delpassand (JD '17), Nina Shayan (JD '17), Anthony Depatie (JD '17), Blaine O'Malley (JD '17), Jake Larson (JD '17), and Dillon Kelly (JD '20), continues to attend the event together each year (and will attend if the event is virtual this spring).

Nick explains, "At a time when youth in foster care need an advocate and a human connection now more than ever, there is no better organization than CASA of Los Angeles to provide that care and support. I am honored to be part of such an incredible organization dedicated to making a difference in the lives of the most vulnerable children in our communities."

Nick's fellow classmate, Rebeka Garder (JD '17), recently became a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) in Texas over the past year during the COVID crisis. Rebeka says "I was sworn in as a CASA advocate in November of this year. I am very much looking forward to receiving my first case, hopefully sometime in early 2021. CASA has been on my heart ever since a law school friend's wife, Krista Rodgers, became an advocate and started sharing her experiences. I was drawn to CASA's mission of matching every child in foster care with an advocate who could provide individualized support to the legal, educational, and health components of each child's case. I feel a responsibility to be a part of what's going on in these kids' lives here in Dallas and I hope to make meaningful connections as I work to create positive long-term outcomes."

From CASA's website:

CASA of Los Angeles improves the lives of children in the dependency system by pairing them with trained volunteer advocates. Nowhere in the nation is the problem greater than in Los Angeles County, where 30,000 children who have experienced abuse or neglect are under the jurisdiction of the Dependency Court.

A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA volunteer) helps these children navigate the complex child welfare system, find a permanent home, and ensure that their safety and well-being are cared for. CASA volunteers get to know the children they are appointed to and their circumstances, encourage them to grow to their fullest potential and are involved in key issues in their life, advocating in court for the support and services that ALL children deserve: education, physical and mental health, and a safe and stable home.

The genius of the CASA model is that it effectively capitalizes on a huge reservoir of caring by mobilizing it in service to children. Studies have demonstrated that children who have experienced abuse and neglect are at significantly higher risk for academic failure, chronic delinquency, homelessness, adult criminal behavior, antisocial personality, and addictions. Moreover, as a child's length of time in and out-of-home care increases, the probability of such negative outcome increases. The CASA program is a proven, reliable and economic model of support that has meant the difference between success and failure in thousands of children.

Nick invites all Waves to join the wonderful work of CASA-LA this holiday season and donate here or learn more about becoming directly involved in the program here.