Powell Named "Children's Champion"
The Juvenile Justice & Children’s Rights Section of the North Carolina Bar Association has presented the 2020 Children’s Champion Award to LaToya Powell of Cary, who serves as Assistant Legal Counsel in the Office of General Counsel at the Administrative Office of the Courts.
The award was presented in conjunction with the section’s annual meeting, held remotely on Thursday, May 14.
“I was really speechless, to be quite honest,” Powell said, “because I think so many people in our section are more deserving of this award. It means the world to me that my peers considered me worthy of this honor. I helped create this award a few years ago and understand the criteria, and know our section includes some of the most passionate and dedicated children’s advocates in the state of NC. I am incredibly touched.”
Even more rewarding, Powell added, is the fact that the work of the Juvenile Justice and Children’s Rights Section improves the lives of children, which is the ultimate goal of the section.
“Currently, in my role in the judicial branch, I am specifically focused on policy and legislative issues impacting the juvenile courts, such as Raise the Age, which concerns how children are treated in the court system,” Powell said. “But my ultimate role in the North Carolina Judicial Branch is to help improve the administration of justice for children, which I think is very meaningful and rewarding.”
Having worked in the court system for most of her career, Powell has grown to appreciate the value of section membership and membership in the NCBA, all of which has served to expand her horizons as an attorney and advocate.
“As a result of my involvement in the Juvenile Justice and Children’s Rights Section,” Powell said, “I have met juvenile law attorneys who work in a number of different systems impacting children, including education, child welfare, mental health and disability rights. There are a wide range of lawyers who are also helping children, and they have helped make me a better lawyer by broadening my perspectives on juvenile law. I have also been able to rely on these attorneys for professional advice, and as people I can call on to be speakers for programs for judges and other court officials.
“This has been very beneficial to me, and I have gained a lot from my bar association membership. It has enhanced my knowledge and understanding of the law and how the decisions of court officials impact children beyond the court system. In addition to the professional development that I have gained, I have also developed some great friendships with attorneys in the section and throughout the bar association, which has been a really important benefit of my membership.”
Powell has been in her current capacity with the NCAOC since 2017. She previously served as Assistant Professor of Public Law and Government for the UNC School of Government (2013-17), as Adjunct Professor of Law at Campbell Law School (2011-13 and 2018-20), as Assistant Attorney General with the N.C. Department of Justice (2006-13), and as Assistant District Attorney with the Johnston County District Attorney’s Office (2005-06).
A graduate of Clayton High School, Powell holds a bachelor’s degree in criminology from N.C. State University (2002) and a juris doctor from the University of North Carolina School of Law (2005).
Powell served as chair of the Juvenile Justice and Children’s Rights Section in 2017-18, and is also a member of the Minorities in the Profession Committee.
The Children’s Champion Award was established to honor section members who are true “champions” for North Carolina children and youth. The previous recipients are Deana Fleming (2018) and Eric Zogry (2019).
The recipient of the award should be a person who:
- has the highest ethical standards;
- is held in the highest regard by both the bench and bar;
- demonstrates a deep, caring desire to help children;
- demonstrates a long-term commitment to improving the well-being of children through a minimum of five years of professional service related to the protection of children and/or children’s rights, with particular emphasis given to the length of the nominee’s commitment and service;
- has taken action to improve the administration of justice for children through direct advocacy, research, policy development, and/or volunteer service; and
- is committed to the mission of the Juvenile Justice & Children’s Rights Section as demonstrated by exemplary service to the Section.