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Adult Representation Services started in 2018 with an initial focus on child protection cases. The team was made up of Jeanette Boerner and Rachelle Loewenson Stratton, both career public defenders.

Representation for parents in child protection cases previously fell to the Public Defender’s Office but was removed due to statute changes. The changes caused a gap in the system, leaving some people without an attorney. Boerner, now the Director of Adult Representation Services, saw an opportunity for the county to step in.

“Working on those kinds of cases and watching unstable representation develop inspired me to think we could do better in Hennepin County by mirroring what we were doing in the public defense system by having dedicated, trained lawyers do the work,” said Boerner.

Boerner and Stratton began taking on child protection and child support contempt cases, partnering with contract attorneys to handle 1,005 cases the first year. The next year, they presented their work and vision to the county board, securing the support and resources they would need to grow.

Today, ARS has seven practice areas and 76 full-time employees.