MCB VLP Volunteer Spotlight
Jacqueline Y. Ferrell
Hunton & Williams Associate Jacqueline Y. Ferrell was described as compassionate and completely reliable by John Parker, Council for Children's Rights' Lead Attorney on Custody Advocacy. Parker continued to explain that, She's got at least one case going on all the time. She cares about the kids she represents. To become involved in giving a voice to children's rights, contact CFCR Volunteer Coordinator Mary Schilli at 704/372-7961 or Volunteer Lawyer Program Coordinator Mary Jordan Samuel at 704/375-8624.
MCB VLP: Current Employer / number of years with current employer?
JF: Hunton & Williams LLP / 8 years
MCB VLP: Area of Practice / Expertise?
JF: Labor & Employment Law
MCB VLP: Law School / Law School Graduation Year?
JF: University of Virginia School of Law, Class of 2000
MCB VLP: How did you begin working with Council for Children's Rights?
JF: Hunton & Williams has been involved with the Council for Children's Rights for many years, and I pursued the opportunity to work with the CFCR soon after joining the firm. I have found the work to be extremely rewarding and have continued working with the CFCR and its custody advocacy program since my first case. In fact, I helped implement a new pro bono initiative last year at Hunton & Williams in which individual lawyers and staff members from the firm work together as part of the custody advocacy team. We also assist the CFCR by assigning the attorney and custody advocate ourselves whenever we receive a new case, to help cut down on the CFCR's administrative burden.
MCB VLP: What is a typical case like?
JF: The court appoints the CFCR to high conflict child custody disputes. The custody advocacy team for a case typically consists of three people: the CFCR attorney, an outside volunteer attorney and a volunteer custody advocate. We first interview the parties involved and then interview collateral witnesses, conduct home visits, gather records, conduct school visits and meet with the children. We also conduct settlement conferences, when they are appropriate, and prepare for and attend trial.
Each case is different, but our goal is always to represent the children and to work for what is in their best interests. Often, the children are caught in the middle of custody disputes with no one watching out for what is best for them. That is where we get involved.
MCB VLP: How many of these cases do you typically handle at one time?
JF: I typically handle one case at a time.
MCB VLP: What is your hope for the future with regard to these cases?
JF: I hope to continue working with the CFCR, which does such important work in supporting children. I hope that the end result in each case is to make a positive difference in the children's lives.
MCB VLP: What is the best advice you've received during your legal career?
JF: Don't lose sight of the forest for the trees. As lawyers we sometimes focus so much on the details that we have a hard time keeping an eye on the bigger picture.
MCB VLP: What advice would you give others?
JF: Don't be afraid to ask questions. We are all fortunate to work with very talented people who have different backgrounds and experiences, and we should learn as much as we can from each other. Collaboration is an important aspect of our work.
MCB VLP: What is the most challenging part of your career?
JF: Trying to fit it all in! I am constantly challenged by the demands of time. I am fortunate, however, to have a wonderful support system at home and at work, and that makes a big difference.
MCB VLP: What is your favorite part of your current job?
JF: I enjoy being a counsel to my clients in the truest sense of the word. As an employment lawyer, I help my clients solve their problems, but I also get to help them prevent future issues, by working with them to develop the right policies and practices for their business. I find partnering with my clients in this way very rewarding.