Lauren Calton, CLS1
Lauren joined Children's Legal Services of San Diego in February 2020 as the Managing Attorney of Firm 1. Prior to joining CLS, Lauren represented children in Los Angeles County's dependency courts as an attorney with Children's Law Center of California (CLC) since 2012. Lauren helped to launch and manage an attorney mentorship program in her firm. She also represented her firm's CSEC clients when Los Angeles County first created its CSEC court. Prior to her work at CLC, Lauren worked at the State Bar of California where she worked to improve the delivery of legal services to low-income Californians and to increase funding for the courts.
Lauren has always been committed to advancing children's rights and is a proud alumna of UCLA School of Law. As a participant in UCLA's Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy, Lauren received a specialization in public interest law while also clerking for a variety of organizations including the Alliance for Children's Rights (Foster Care Benefits Department), Public Counsel (Education Unit), and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights. Following law school, Lauren volunteered as an attorney with Legal Services for Children in San Francisco, where she represented students at school expulsion hearings and worked on a variety of cases involving foster care, legal guardianship, and immigration.
Lauren received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Pomona College. Prior to attending law school, she worked at the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties. As the ACLU's Communications and Development Manager, Lauren managed a multi-faceted fundraising program to increase support for key civil liberties issues. She enjoyed her time in San Diego and is happy to return to San Diego as a member of CLS' management team.
Karen Prosek, CLS2
Karen joined Children’s Legal Services of San Diego in October 2020 as a staff attorney. In August 2018 she became the Supervising Attorney of Firm2. In August 2019 she became the Managing Attorney of Firm 2. Prior to join CLS, Karen served as minor’s counsel with the San Diego County Public Defender’s Minor’s Counsel Office and at Dependency Legal Services of San Diego. Karen has represented minors for over 16 years. She currently serves as the CLS representative for the San Diego CSEC Steering Committee.
Karen considers her work as the trial attorney on the case of In re Kristen B., 163 Cal. App. 4th 1535 (2008) one of her greatest accomplishments. The published case is the leading case on the dual role of minor’s counsel.
Karen considers an important part of her work as minor’s counsel is to ensure the youth have a voice in their lives while involved with the dependency court, that they understand the process and that they feel connected with their attorney.
Karen’s other legal positions include 18 months as a Public Defender in San Diego County’s Public Defender Misdemeanor Unit, working as a Special Education Attorney for Disability Rights Inc. and as an independent contractor for University of San Diego’s Children’s Advocacy Institute working on research hand policy projects to support legislation for what became know as Extended Foster Care.
Karen received her BS in Political Science and BS in Criminal Justice from Norther Arizona University. After a college internship with the American Bar Association’s Juvenile Justice Center, Karen became interested in community engagement to support children and families from entering the juvenile court system. After graduation Karen moved to San Diego. Growing up in Arizona, San Diego was an annual summer vacation spot. Karen planned to give San Diego a year and then move to DC. However, after working with San Diego Youth Services Storefront Shelter for Homeless/ Runaway Youth and then managing an Independent Living Skills program for foster youth, San Diego became home.
While Karen was earning her Master of Social Work from San Diego State University and managing the ILS program, she attended a meeting and learned more about the role of minor’s attorney. She finished her MSW and then began attending USD School of Law part time. While working as a Research and Evaluation Specialist for SDSU’s Academy for Professional Excellence, she conducted research and policy projects to support the work of Southern California’s child welfare agencies.
Karen received several awards and scholarships for her child advocacy work from USD. In 2011 she received the University of San Diego Children’s Advocacy Law Institute’s Alumni Recognition award.
Karen has taught Child Welfare Law and Policy at California Western School of Law for five years. She is a member of Lawyer’s Club. On her off time, she enjoys judging moot court and mock trial competitions, yoga, running and spending time at the beach with her dog Lucille Ball.
Steve Wedel, CLS3
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.
Maria Diaz, ClS4