After years of advocating for her own child, corporate attorney Micki Moran began representing children with special needs.
"I learned a lot from my son," says Moran, 57. "He was my first teacher. I am sure people thought I was possessed... I didn't want my son to be a statistic. I wanted him to be able to do whatever he could, the best that he could do it."
Moran is convinced that had Patrick, 29, not received the help they had to fight for, he would not have gone to college or be holding down a job.
Moran thought she could help others. She launched The Child & Family Law Center of the North Shore, a block away from her Highland Park home, to be near Patrick, who was in middle school at the time and has a learning disability. She started out with special education cases before expanding to juvenile court and divorces involving the parents of children with special needs.
"I try to be part coach, part lawyer, part advocate," she says. "Most people I see are at the lowest point of their lives. It's a very emotional practice. I have boxes of Kleenex all over my office."
The job has her working more often with mental health professionals, tutors and therapists, making sure her clients get the services that they need, than with other lawyers.
Outside of work, she sits on the board of the Center for Independent Futures in Evanston and leads talks to empower parents to advocate for their children.
Oftentimes, the mental health cases she handles keep her up at night, worrying about the children she represents, she says. But knowing she is doing her part to help better their lives makes it all worthwhile.
"I have a real passion for what I do," she says.