Serving as president of the Harvard Law Review? Check. Clerking for the Supreme Court? Check. Becoming head of the litigation department at a leading DC law firm? Check.
When you hit all the highs in your legal career, what do you do next? For Allen Snyder, formerly at Hogan & Hartson (now Hogan Lovells), the next move was to focus on a cause very close to his heart: helping kids who need loving homes.
After 30 years in private practice, Allen now heads up Children’s Law Center’s appellate practice, where he helps develop appellate strategies and guide trial strategies for more complex abuse and neglect, adoption, custody and special education cases.
Allen’s path to Children’s Law Center was paved by his own experiences as a foster parent. In retirement, Allen and his wife Susan became emergency foster parents for many children before they adopted Ceci, who joined them when she was two months old. He saw firsthand how long and complicated custody and adoption cases could be and as a lawyer knew things could be improved. So, when he got a call three years ago from executive director Judith Sandalow asking if he would like to help Children’s Law Center start its appellate practice, he says he was thrilled.
Through his appellate work, Allen and his team help make DC’s abuse and neglect system work better for the kids and families who move through it. His trial and appellate expertise and thoughtful consideration of tough cases has also made him a great mentor for Children’s Law Center’s lawyers who go to trial or are working on appealing a court decision. Even when challenged by tough cases, Allen says his focus remains clear: to help create the best outcomes possible for DC’s kids.
If you needed more evidence of Allen’s thoughtful dedication to vulnerable children, consider this: all of his time with Children’s Law Center is donated. Allen leads our appellate work in a pro bono capacity. “Pro bono work is invaluable to the profession and to the individual,” Allen says. “As a pro bono lawyer, you’re contributing to society and it’s very rewarding personally.”
Allen’s pro bono service to Children’s Law Center recently earned him an award from the DC Bar as the 2014 Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year. But Allen was quick to demur when congratulated on his recognition: “This work is tremendously stimulating and engaging. It’s not a sacrifice for me.”
Allen says he hopes that other senior lawyers will find the same satisfaction as he has in retirement. “They would not only find it satisfying to work for a cause they believe in, but would also help meet the community need for good lawyers to help people who need them,” he says.
Children’s Law Center is grateful for the chance to put Allen’s personal passion and long legal career to use on behalf of DC’s most vulnerable children.