Mary Anne Mendenhall


Mary Anne Mendenhall is the Director of Family Defense Initiatives, in collaboration with California's Office of the State Public Defender. She is a career public defender committed to representing parents subjected to the family regulation system, more commonly known as child welfare.

Mary Anne spent decades working alongside clients on holistic defense teams preserving family bonds and avoiding unnecessary, intrusive state disruption into the lives of families living in poverty. Ms. Mendenhall conducted hundreds of hearings and trials in her years as a supervising attorney in The Bronx Defenders Family Defense Practice. Her direct representation was story-driven and strategic, with impact reaching countless families. Her work for two clients in particular laid the groundwork for large-scale systemic change in New York related to the rights of parents with intellectual disabilities. In addition to her work for clients, she trained trial lawyers at The Bronx Defenders and its immersive trial training program, Defenders' Academy. She also drove family defense initiatives on The Bronx Defenders Impact Litigation Team. Ms. Mendenhall received her A.B. from Dartmouth College, and J.D. from Brooklyn Law School. Ms. Mendenhall is a part-time lecturer at UCLA School of Law, teaching Trial Advocacy.

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