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Photo of Leila Blatt

Leila Blatt

  • Hosted by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc.
  • Sponsored by Greenberg Traurig, LLP, Texas Access to Justice Foundation
  • Service location Austin, Texas
  • Law school Yale Law School
  • Issue area Family Law, Racial Justice
  • Fellowship class year 2021
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

At Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Leila (she/her/hers) focuses on defending low-income Black families in the greater Austin area against aggressive child protective services before court interventions through direct representation, relationship building, and community education.

Often, children of color are taken from their homes, their parents, their siblings, and their communities because poverty is confused with neglect. Texas terminates the rights of more parents than any other state. In Texas’ most seemingly progressive city, the family regulation system overwhelmingly targets Black families. These parents are left to navigate child protection investigations and services under the threat of a petition for removal and termination of parental rights without access to counsel.

Lessons from Black women in Leila’s young world, stories from clients she’s worked alongside, and guidance from incredible mentors inspired her lifelong commitment to supporting Black communities.

Fellowship Highlights to Date

In the first year of the Fellowship, Leila has:

  • Represented 13 clients involved with child protective services (CPS), who have all maintained access to their children and avoided escalation to court filing
  • Provided legal advice or limited services to an additional nine individuals
  • Advocated for the constitutional rights of a parent facing a custody battle with a non-relative CPS placement
  • Trained 190 service providers on CPS investigations and the targeted violence they inflict on Black and Brown families
  • Helped develop the Family Defense Project webpage on TRLA’s site to reach parents across Texas
  • Partnered with the Travis County Public Defender’s Office to fight the dual surveillance of the criminal and child protective services systems

Next Steps

In the next year, Leila plans to:

  • Develop and publish Know-Your-Rights informational videos for parents facing CPS contact
  • Continue to spread project awareness in the community through local partners and CPS community conversations
  • Expand her caseload to increase her direct representation impact


2021 Greenberg Traurig Equal Justice Works Law Fellows to Tackle Racial, Economic, and Social Justice Issues

In disrupting the everyday devastations happening in child protection offices, I honor the power and vulnerability of the Black women that made me.

Leila Blatt /
2021 Equal Justice Works Fellow

Meet Other Fellows Like Leila

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Zoè Russell

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Adriana Gabriela Rodriguez

Host: Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc.

Sponsor: Texas Access to Justice Foundation

Gina Bull

Host: Center for Family Representation

Sponsor: Greenberg Traurig, LLP