Betty Nordwind has devoted her legal career to social justice issues. Betty has been on the forefront of efforts championing the rights of the poor, disabled persons and women. Graduating from the University of Colorado Law School in 1971, Betty immediately signed up for a service corps program at Metro Denver Legal Aid, handling everyday problems of indigent residents of Colorado. In the vanguard of the disability rights movement, Betty founded and lead Denver Legal Aid’s first mental health law unit providing legal representation to civilly committed indigent individuals. Betty also helped initiate a path-breaking lawsuit on behalf of poor, chronically mentally ill persons. Hired to manage the Harriett Buhai Center of Family Law in 1987 as its Executive Director, Betty has overseen its growth from a fledging office of 4 persons and less than 35 volunteers to a strong community institution of over 20 staff members and 300 volunteers providing in excess of 28,000 hours of legal service to more than 1,000 very low-income persons in Los Angeles a year. Under Betty’s tutelage, the Center has trained hundreds of lawyers and law students, filed several significant lawsuits, engaged in other advocacy directed to eliminating barriers to the courts and undertaken legislative efforts to change child support laws and practices in California and Los Angeles. Under Betty’s direction, the Center opened doors to the promise of family law and donated volunteer assistance to low-income community college students and incarcerated mothers.
In 2014, Betty was honored by the State Bar of California with the prestigious Loren Miller Legal Services Award, a lifetime achievement award recognizing her long-term commitment to providing legal services to very low-income individuals and families. Betty’s crusade for the rights of the poor and disenfranchised precedes her accomplished legal career and began when she was just a teen.