SOL Magazine Spring 2023



If you didn’t know any better, Maya Karrow ‘21 J.D. might come off as a private investigator. And that assumption would be partially correct. She’s certainly on the ultimate search for answers. Karrow is convincing in her investigator ways; last year she spent countless hours in the bowels of county courthouses across Minnesota. She sent dozens of letters requesting case files from county clerks. And she scoured the internet, earmarking media reports and taking copious notes. Despite outward appearances, Karrow is not a private eye. But she does have a long list of clients who are dear to her heart—88 of them in fact, all who deserve justice even though their cases are closed and their voices silenced. “My clients are children, and even though I’m not actually speaking to these kids, or actually hearing from them, I am advocating for them,” Schulte said. “I have a lot of passion for giving a voice to people who are voiceless.” Karrow is a recent School of Law graduate and was part of the school’s Archbishop Ireland Justice Fellowship program. Fellows are placed in one- year, full-time employment with Minnesota organizations that work to address the civil legal needs of individuals who otherwise could not afford assistance from an attorney. In Karrow’s case, she took on a placement as staff attorney with

Safe Passage for Children of Minnesota, one of the leading child welfare organizations in the state. For several months, Karrow collected data on 88 child fatality cases connected to Minnesota’s child protection system. “Their stories were completely pushed under the rug,” Karrow said. “No one is bringing their stories to light, and we’re not going to see any change if someone isn’t pointing out these issues.” The 88 cases in question span eight years, from 2014 to 2022. Many feature what Karrow describes as “alarming and disturbing trends,” where a little extra care or concern from the state may have saved the child’s life. Karrow considered a multitude of factors, such as how many times reports of abuse or neglect were made, how many times the family was investigated, and what did the state know about the case before the child died. In the end, she wants to know what could have prevented the death, all in an effort to avoid future tragedy. “It’s almost like I am a kind of investigator, in a way, and I am just poking holes in a lot of these cases or asking a lot of questions. What happened here and why?” Karrow said. With the research portion of the project complete, a massive report was painstakingly compiled in collaboration with Richard Gehrman, executive director of Safe Passage for

Children of Minnesota. The goal is to present the findings to the Minnesota State Legislature, with a series of recommendations and steps lawmakers could take to improve our state’s child protection system. “Our findings are pretty incredible – in a really alarming way. The average person has no idea how bad our child protection system actually is,” Karrow said. “Through this work I feel like I’m bringing justice to the children that died, and their families.” Closing the justice gap in the United States is exactly what the Archbishop Ireland Justice Fellowship program is designed to do. Started in 2014, the program has placed 17 St. Thomas Law alumni in positions with legal aid organizations. Whether they work on immigration or disability law, the goal is the same for each fellow: bringing justice to those who would otherwise go unheard. Lisa Montpetit Brabbit, associate dean for external relations at the University of St. Thomas School of Law, is one of the cofounders of the program. She says it grew out of St. Thomas looking to do its part in addressing a mammoth issue, helping legal aid organizations that are underfunded and, in turn, the 60 million Americans who can’t afford an attorney. “Thirty-eight percent of low- income Americans are faced with life-altering legal issues that negatively impact their physical and emotional well-being, safety

Archbishop Ireland Justice


By Abraham Swee

Maya Karrow

Page 24 St. Thomas Lawyer

Spring 2023 Page 25

Powered by