Children's Legal Services of San Diego protects and defends the rights of children and youth in the child welfare system through high-quality and compassionate legal representation.
CLSSD is a non-profit, interdisciplinary organization that consists of three law firms, which are court-appointed to represent both minors and non-minor dependents in Juvenile Dependency Court within and out San Diego County.
Client-centered – We value and actively listen to the voices of our clients and represent their unique, holistic needs.
Zealous – We are courageous leaders in our advocacy for the protection of each child’s right to safety, stability and well-being.
Collaborative – We work as a team through meaningful dialogues and formalized partnerships, internally and externally, to achieve positive outcomes.
Compassionate – We provide culturally competent services and strive to achieve social justice and dignity for the most vulnerable.
Excellence – We exhibit quality legal representation by ensuring our staff are highly trained and practice with dedication and commitment.
Trustworthy – We gain the trust of our clients, partners and peers by consistently exhibiting knowledge and integrity.
COMPASSIONATE AND EXPERIENCED REPRESENTATION
CLSSD attorneys are court appointed to represent the children and youth who are victims of parental abuse or neglect in the San Diego County juvenile dependency courts. CLSSD's interdisciplinary team of attorneys and investigators are committed to providing our vulnerable clients a voice in the decisions made in the courtroom, which affect their daily lives and futures. Through high-quality legal advocacy, CLSSD strives to ensure the clients’ rights to family, safety and stability.
Carolyn Griesemer, JD
Carolyn serves as the Executive Director of Children’s Legal Services of San Diego, Inc. CLSSD’s attorneys are court appointed to represent the children in the juvenile dependency courts and advocate for their clients’ rights, needs, and best interests.
Carolyn’s legal experience includes having served as a judicial clerk in the Eastern District of Missouri Court of Appeals. From this foundation of understanding the necessity of a strong, precise, appellate record, she entered the arena of trial practice. At the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, she was an Assistant Prosecutor in the Domestic Violence Unit and, later, moved to the San Diego City Attorney’s Office Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Unit.
Carolyn served as a senior associate with Minors Counsel Office of Dependency Legal Group for five years where she represented children in the juvenile dependency system. Arguing for the rights and necessary services for children, she zealously advocated for her young clients. Prior to co-founding CLSSD in 2016, Carolyn ran her own law practice serving caregiver and relative clients in the juvenile system.
Carolyn currently serves on the San Pasqual Academy Advisory Board and is a voting member of the newly formed Child & Family Strengthening Advisory Board, appointed by the County Board of Supervisors.
Chief Operating Officer
Kristin Garrett Montgomery recently joined Children’s Legal Services of San Diego as Chief Operating Officer. Kristin has spent the past 20 years working to improve the health of San Diego’s most vulnerable populations.
Kristin’s career commenced in a dual role with the Hospital Association of San Diego & Imperial Counties (HASD&IC) and Community Health Improvement Partners (CHIP). Kristin served in various positions, including Director of Public Advocacy for HASD&IC and as the President & CEO of CHIP. Most recently, Kristin was the Associate Vice President, San Diego Market Leader for Molina Healthcare of California.
Kristin received a Master of Public Health with a concentration in Health Service Administration from San Diego State University, Graduate School of Public Health and her B.S. in Nutritional Science from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo. Kristin has been very involved in the community serving on Boards such as the San Diego Organization of Healthcare Leaders, Mental Health America, American Lung Association, and volunteered as a coach for the Fieldstone Non-profit Leadership Network.
Kristin is passionate about prevention, wellness and social justice. She looks forward to applying her non-profit and community health experience to advocating for San Diego’s foster youth.
Beth Ploesch, JD/MSW
Director, CLSSD Firm 1
Beth Ploesch is an alumnae of the joint Juris Doctorate/Masters in Social Work program through California Western School of Law and San Diego State University. She graduated magna cum laude in 2006/2007 with a concentration in Administrative Social Work. Her graduate thesis focused on the tort of wrongful adoption disclosure, and her field work included training in the area of casework, adoptions and policy/program support with Child Welfare Services in San Diego. She was a judicial intern at the San Diego Juvenile Court and also an attorney with San Diego Volunteer Law Program in the domestic violence unit.
Beth has worked in private practice in the areas of employment law, family law, and bankruptcy. Since 2011, she has served exclusively as court-appointed counsel for foster youth at Dependency Legal Services and Children’s Legal Services of San Diego. She was honored with the Outstanding Attorney of the Year award (2013) and the Peer Recognition Award (2015).
Beth Ploesch co-founded Children’s Legal Services in 2016 with Carolyn Griesemer. Her devotion to victims of child abuse and neglect began in 1998 while she was volunteering in a Russian orphanage. She has lived in California, Oregon, Virginia, Washington D.C., Illinois, Ecuador and Germany.
Steve Wedel, JD
Director, CLSSD Firm 2
Prior to becoming a lawyer, Steve Wedel worked as a scientist for ten years for San Diego-based bio-tech company IDEC Pharmaceuticals, focusing on immunological-based treatments for cancer. After graduating from California Western School of Law in 2001, magna cum laude, Steve focused on representing disabled individuals in lawsuits pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act, fighting discrimination in the form of physical barriers that disabled individuals face on a daily basis. During his six years practicing ADA law, he argued in front of the Ninth Circuit of Appeals three times, and was successful in establishing new law regarding deterrence-based injuries and standing for disabled individuals.
He has also worked in the areas of insurance law, employment law and for a short time worked for a firm that was at the forefront of fighting mortgage and foreclosure fraud.
Steve began his career as court-appointed counsel for both parents and minors involved in Child Welfare Services cases in 2011 with Dependency Legal Group. He joined Children’s Legal Services at its founding in the fall of 2016, and has solely represented foster youth ever since.
On his off-time, Steve enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, as well as his large furry pack – three dogs and two cats. He also enjoys writing and has completed a screenplay, The Art of War.