2011 – Richard T. Cozzola

Richard Cozzola 2011Richard Cozzola is Supervising Attorney of the Children’s Law Project at Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago where he has worked for more than 14 years. Prior to LAF he helped develop the curriculum for the CIVITAS ChildLaw Center at Loyola University Chicago School of Law as its first Program Director, served as Director of Training at the Office of the Cook County Public Guardian, was a supervising attorney at Cabrini Green Legal Aid for more than six years, and started his career as an attorney at Legal Services of Eastern Michigan.

There is a common thread here: Rich Cozzola has dedicated his career to public service, and particularly to issues related to children. Over time, Rich has focused his efforts on helping children develop or maintain healthy attachments to parents or parent-figures once the children are brought into the child protection system. Children’s law is an area where turf is divided up and zealously guarded. Rich’s great strength as a children’s law advocate lies in his ability to work across turf boundaries. Rich has brought his expertise to bear in the child welfare policy arena and frequently mobilized other advocates to join him in working with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to create polices and rules to improve its processes for children and families.

Rich is also an enthusiastic and skilled teacher and mentor to law students and attorneys from LAF and throughout the country. He is nationally known for his skills as a trial practice teacher. He has authored materials and taught annually in the Rocky Mountain Child Advocacy teacher training program, which brings together children’s attorneys from across the country to improve their courtroom advocacy skills. Throughout his career, he has mentored countless law students, many who have gone on to successful careers advocating for children and families.

Rich’s receipt of the CBA/CBF Weigle Exceptional Young Lawyer Award in 1987 was a good predictor of Rich’s maturing into a lawyer who combines legal acumen, tenacity, creativity and compassion deserving of the 2011 Morsch Public Service Award.