Michigan Lawers Weekly names MSU’s Pope ‘Woman of the Year’

September 13, 2017

Michigan State University assistant professor Delanie Pope has been named Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s 2017 Woman of the Year, as selected by her peers.

Pope, a staff attorney at the MSU Chance at Childhood Law and Social Work Clinic in East Lansing, received the honor Sept. 7 during the eighth annual Women in the Law luncheon in Detroit.

“It’s a great honor to be here amongst all the many talented women,” said Pope, upon receiving the award. She thanked the MSU School of Social Work and College of Law, as well as the students she has worked with over the past 10 years.

Pope specializes in children’s legal issues and oversees the day-to-day activities of the clinic, which is staffed by MSU law and social work students. The clinic’s interdisciplinary student teams handle a wide variety of matters involving family and children’s interests, including custody, guardianship and adoption matters. In all cases, student teams advocate for the child’s best interests. Pope manages more than 100 cases per year to ensure students meet all their statutory requirements and provide to the courts the highest quality work product.

In addition to supervising students’ casework, Pope also responds to numerous calls and emails from professionals and laypersons in the community seeking advice regarding children’s legal issues. Many parents and kinship caregivers struggle to navigate the legal system without legal representation, and Pope provides them with invaluable assistance.

“For me, practicing law means helping families, which in turn builds a stronger and healthier community,” Pope said. “Sometimes we help them in small, unremarkable ways. Some days, we help them in ways that will change their lives forever, like bringing parents and children together, or in some cases getting kids out of bad, even dangerous, situations.”

In 2012, Pope worked to open the Ingham County Self-Help Center in collaboration with the Ingham County Friend of the Court and Ingham County Judges. The center provides badly needed legal self-help services to the community and increases access to the court system for those unable to afford legal representation. The center also improves the court’s ability to provide timely and efficient court rulings and orders in family court cases.