Conference Materials

Annual Conference of the Parental Defense Alliance

April 19-20, 2018

Grand Summit Hotel, Park City, Utah

Thursday, April 19, 2018

7:30- 7:45  Registration and Breakfast
7:45-8:00 Welcome and Business

KEYNOTESparking A Revolution of Values:  How Family Defense Lawyers Can Use Data, Stories and Advocacy To Change The Child Welfare System's Approach To Families by Vivek S. Sankaran, JD and Christopher Church, JD,MS

Vivek Sankaran advocates for the rights of children and parents involved in child welfare proceedings. His work focuses on improving outcomes for children in foster care by empowering their parents and strengthening decision-making processes in juvenile courts. A clinical professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School, Professor Sankaran directs both the Child Advocacy Law Clinic and the Child Welfare Appellate Clinic, through which law students represent children and parents in trial and appellate proceedings. Professor Sankaran has written numerous articles focused on improving the child welfare system and has litigated cases before the Michigan Supreme Court. In addition, he conducts state and national trainings and works on child welfare initiatives with various national groups, including the American Bar Association, Casey Family Programs, and the National Center for State Courts.

After graduating from Michigan Law in 2001, Professor Sankaran received a Skadden Fellowship to represent children at The Children's Law Center in Washington, D.C., where he remained until 2005, when he joined the Law School faculty. In 2009, Professor Sankaran founded the Detroit Center for Family Advocacy, the first organization in the country to provide multidisciplinary legal assistance to families to prevent the unnecessary entry of children into foster care. In 2011, he was named Michigan's Parent Attorney of the Year. Most recently, Professor Sankaran co-edited both the first national book for family defense lawyers and the third edition of Child Welfare Law and Practice, a widely recognized resource used by child welfare lawyers across the country.

Christopher is the President of Palmetto Family Advocacy, LLC, a child welfare policy and advocacy group. He also serves as staff as the Law and Policy Director for the Children's Law Center at the USC School of Law and as the Judicial Consultant for Fostering Court Improvement. Christopher provides systemic advocacy through training, capacity building, facilitation, and other activities to assist child welfare professionals in better serving children and families involved in civil child abuse & neglect proceedings. Christopher conducts independent research on CPS and foster care and consults with a number of state child welfare agencies, non-profit organizations, and the federal government on improving outcomes for children and families involved in civil child abuse and neglect proceedings.

Christopher holds a Masters in Mathematics from the University of North Texas and a Juris Doctor from Gonzaga University School of Law. He completed his undergraduate studies at Concordia College in New York. Christopher is licensed to practice law in Georgia and South Carolina, and is certified as a Child Welfare Law Specialist by the National Association of Counsel for Children. He lives in Columbia, SC with his wife, Amanda, and their two dogs, Frances & Beauregard.


This session will explore how family defense lawyers can lead the charge in shifting the child welfare system’s focus from one of child protection to one focused on strengthening families. The presenters will weave together existing data, research, and the  law to build a narrative that supports family defense lawyers in their quest to fight to keep children with their families. During this session, attendees will have an opportunity to critically examine one of the most important phases of a child welfare case – the decision to remove a child from their caretaker – from a clinical, empirical, and legal lens. After this session, advocates will be armed with new tools to ensure that the decision to remove a child from their parents is a one that is carefully vetted by the legal system to ensure no child unnecessarily enters Utah’s foster care system. 



Networking Break


Appeals Skills Training and Caselaw Update by Margaret Lindsay, PDA Board of Directors, and Janell Bryan

Margaret Lindsay Margaret P. Lindsay is an Assistant Director in the Utah County Public Defender Association with responsibility over the Juvenile and Appeals Divisions.  Her practice centers around juvenile and appellate public defense work.  She also spent several years in private practice in Provo with the firm Esplin & Weight where she also did work in the areas of criminal defense, adoptions, and family law in addition to her juvenile and appellate work.  She graduated from BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School.  She currently sits on the Indigent Defense Commission, the Board of Directors for the Utah Parental Defense Alliance, and on the 4th District Juvenile Court's Child Welfare Interagency Council and Family Drug Court Committee.  In the past she has served on the governing board of the Utah County Boys & Girls Club, and as a member of the Utah Supreme Court's Committee on the Utah Rules of Appellate Procedure. She is also licensed to practice before the United States Supreme Court.

Janell Bryan Janell Bryan graduated sum laude from UNLV Boyd School of Law in 2007. She worked for the law firm Scribner and McCandless from 2007 to 2009, and held a conflict juvenile court public defender contract with the Utah County Public Defenders Association from 2008 to 2013.  She worked as a solo practitioner in family law and juvenile court from 2009 to 2013, including an additional conflict juvenile court public defender contract with Wasatch County.  Ms. Bryan became a full-time juvenile court public defender with the Utah County Public Defenders Association in 2013 to the present. Ms. Bryan was awarded Trial Attorney of the Year from the Parental Defense Alliance in 2014.

Margaret and Janell will be presenting appelllate practice tips based on their extensive experiences, as well as input from Utah's Court of Appeals staff. They will also be presenting the Appellate Case Law Update for 2018, along with trends and patterns they are noticing in recent decisions involving child welfare law. 





Moving the Needle Forward: Supporting Parental Defense Providers through State Grants, Practice Guidelines and Innovative Pilot Projects by Jojo Liu, Assistant Director, Indigent Defense Commission

Jojo Liu is the Assistant Director of the Utah Indigent Defense Commission where she oversees the juvenile court aspects of the IDC's mandate. Previously a visiting professor at the S.J. Quinney College of Law, Jojo spent a decade, prior to moving to Utah, as the Clinical Director at the Center for Juvenile Law and Policy at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, where she defended children and worked on system improvement initiatives in the nation's largest juvenile justice system.

The Indigent Defense Commission was created by the Utah Legislature in 2016 to ensure that indigent defense services meet minimum constitutional and statutory requirements. In May 2017, the mandate of the IDC was expanded to include defense services in juvenile court which includes parental representation. This presentation will focus on the work of the IDC , which focuses on data collection, promulgating standards and funding indigent defense projects, including innovative pilot projects which seek to make the case for continued funding and support for the critical work done by parental defenders.


Child Welfare Mediation Across the State - What Works, What Doesn't. Parental Defenders and Mediators Share Effective Strategies by Bev Klungervik and Nini Rich

Nini Rich, ADR Director, Utah State Administrative Office of the Courts

Nini Rich is the Director of Alternative Dispute Resolution Programs for the Utah State Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC). Prior to her appointment as ADR Director, Nini spent eight years as a Child Welfare Mediator for the AOC, mediating more than 1,600 court-ordered cases. In addition to mediation, Nini's professional experience includes group facilitation, strategic planning and conflict resolution training.

Nini serves as a trustee on the Board of the Utah Council on Conflict Resolution (UCCR) and is a member of the Judicial Council's Standing Committee on Child and Family Law.  She is a graduate of Pomona College in Claremont, California, where she received a BA in International Relations. Nini completed post-graduate training in Conflict Resolution at the University of Utah and advanced training in mediation and negotiation through Harvard Law School's Program on Negotiation.  She is a certified Integral Facilitator®.



Bev is the Child Welfare Mediation Program Manager with the Utah State Courts.  She mediates child abuse and neglect cases statewide and trains new mediators in the program.  She graduated from the University of Utah Conflict Resolution Certificate Program in 1998.   For the past twenty years she has also been involved with the Juvenile Victim/Offender Dialogue Program, the Co-parenting Mediation Program and has facilitated dialogues in crimes of severe violence.  Bev enjoys facilitating and training in the area of workplace conflict resolution, but her first love is mediating.

Bev is a native of Utah, has four children, and enjoys music, traveling, and most of all racquetball.                                                                                



Tips and Topics will include: Best Use of Limited Time, Breaking Impasse and Using the Mediator to Work With Difficult Clients. Bev Klungervik and Nini Rich will facilitate an interactive session along with Child Welfare Mediators Shelly Wilkerson, Evie Brinkerhoff, Sam Mekrut, and Anita Holewinski.


Announcements and Explanation of Breakout Schedule 

Jeff Baird: Body Language Presentation

Jeff Baird is a keynote speaker, conference presenter, corporate trainer, and certified body language trainer (who knew that was a thing?). He has been in IT and data analytics for almost 20 years. He's worked to help organizations find measurable success through data driven decisions. He's a business intelligence manager over 25 data engineers. But over the years, he has found that data by itself isn't enough to persuade and influence. How we present ourselves and our message matters. With 60-93% of our communication being nonverbal (body language, tone of voice, etc.), he's studied the science behind body language to learn what makes people tick.

Jeff's presentations help participants learn how to take control of their nonverbal communication, better recognize emotional cues, and build influence. His approach is science-backed, immediately applicable, and fun. He will be sharing 3 ways you can build rapport, trust, and loyalty.


Lincoln Mead: Tech Update

Lincoln Mead is the IT Director of the Utah State Bar and an obsessive fan of Cubs baseball. As IT Director, he assists Utah attorneys with evaluation of practice management technology and manages the IT vendor relationships on the Utah State Bar group benefits program. Lincoln is a past Chair of the IT section for the National Association of Bar Executives. He is a frequent speaker on technology policy, planning, implementation and use. He is the proud father of three Irish sons: War, Plague, and Pestilence, and the husband of a beautiful and mysterious Welsh wife.


Lincoln will be providing his always anticipated tech update, along with insights into how tech impacts our ethical obligations as attorneys. This presentation will qualify for 1 hour of ethics CLE.


Breakout Session One


Breaktout Session Two

4:45-5:00 Regroup in Ballroom and explanation of Friday's schedule


Friday, April 2, 2018

7:30-8:00  Registration, Breakfast, and PDA Business

Assessing Needs and Risks of Clients  by Lisa Lokken, Lokken & Associates, P.C.

Lisa B. Lokken is president and owner of Lokken & Associates, P.C. Ms. Lokken received her B.A. in Economics from Westminster College of Salt Lake City, and her J.D. from J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University.
Ms. Lokken has been a coordinator and a presenter in several Parental Defense Conferences and has provided training to parental defense attorneys throughout the State of Utah. She has been a requested speaker at both state and national conferences pertaining to parental defense, child welfare and dependency drug court related issues.
Ms. Lokken has over 20 years of experience relating to child welfare proceedings and parental defense. Ms. Lokken is involved in several committees and strives for ongoing improvement and support of the child welfare system as it relates to parents and the attorneys that represent them.

Ms. Lokken will be presenting on how to assess the needs and risks of clients and address them in a meaningful way.


What the Heck is a Shelter Hearing? A Client's Perspective A Dialogue between Crystal Randall, former client of Michael Rawson of the PDA Board of Directors.

Michael Rawson graduated from BYU in Journalism and worked for 30 years as a television news reporter in Salt Lake City for KUTV and KTVX and acquired four Rocky Mountain Emmys along the way. He went to law school at age 50. In 2002, he received his J.D. from Western State University School of Law in Fullerton, California. After passing the Utah Bar, Michael moved to St. George and began his second career. He works mostly in family law, criminal defense and child welfare. Michael has been a parental defender since 2003. He finds it has been a very satisfying challenge. In 2011, Michael received the PDA's Trial Attorney of the Year award, and joined the PDA Board of Directors in 2017 as the Representative for the 5th and 6th Districts. On the personal side, he finally got married at age 60 to Miriam who he had met 35 years before at BYU. Michael is an avid reader of non-fiction, mostly history, and considers himself an amateur baseball historian. 

Crystal has seven children and has been through three DCFS cases. She has made what Michael calls "the most remarkable transformation I've seen in my 14 years of working as a parental defender." Crystal now is a mentor for drug court clients. Michael and Crystal will be having a dialogue about what led to her eventual success in her cases, and more importantly, things she wishes, from a client's perspective, attorneys could do better in their interactions with parents.


Innovative Motion Practice by Jason Richards

Jason grew up in Ogden,Utah and graduated from Ogden High School in 2000. He attended undergrad and law school at the University of Utah. Before law school,he worked for a number of years in politics, managing field operations for several state-wide initiatives and successful congressional campaigns. After graduating law school, Jason worked for two years for Weber County public defenders, mainly on capital homicide cases. ]He is now in private practice and has a parental defense contract in Davis County. In 2016, Jason was awarded the Trial Attorney of the Year award by the Parental Defense Alliance of Utah. He has extensive experience at the trial and appellate level in defending the rights of parents in child welfare matters. Jason lives in Farmington with his wife and 3 kids. When not at work, you'll usually find him skiing, running, gardening, cooking, and playing with his kids.

Jason will be presenting strategies and tips for succesful and creative motion practice, particularly addressing pre-adjudication motions and post-adjudication motions. 


Networking Break and Mid-Morning Awards


Legislative Update by  Senator Todd Weiler

Senator Weiler has represented District 23 in the Utah State Senate since 2012. He is an attorney by profession, and is the Vice President and General Counsel for Logistics Specialties, Inc.

He will be providing an update on bills that passed during the most recent legislative session that impact child welfare practice. 


Professionalism and Civility Challenge by Grant Dickinson

Grant Dickinson has been a member of the Parental Defense Alliance since 2010, and at the 2016 Annual Conference, was announced as the President of the Board of Directors for the PDA. Grant's practice focuses mainly in Utah County and like many of our members focuses on Parental Defense, Criminal Defense, and Family Law related cases. Grant achieved the Parental Defense Alliance 2012 Appellate Attorney of the Year for a case in which he finally obtained a reversal of the trial court's termination of his client's parental rights in L.G. v. State. The main issue in this case is rights of incarcerated parents. In addition to his duties as President of the PDA Board of Directors, Grant also represents the 4th district. While studying at Willamette University, Grant served each year on the executive board of Willamette University's Public Interest Law Project. Prior to Law School, Grant was employed at the Fourth District Court as Deputy Clerk in Commissioner Patton's Court and also as a Deputy Probation Officer.

Grant will be presenting information pertaining to the Utah Standards of Professionalism and Civility in the form of the gameshow, Classic Concentration. This presentation will qualify for one hour of Professionalism and Civility CLE.