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Noted Children’s Advocate Attorney Howard Talenfeld Starts New Firm Representing At-Risk, Foster Kids

Howard Talenfeld, one of the nation’s preeminent children’s rights attorneys, has launched Talenfeld Law. The law firm will be the first in Florida to focus exclusively on protecting the rights of physically and sexually abused, medically fragile, foster and other at-risk children.

Talenfeld is known throughout the legal community and national media as having established the nation’s premier children’s rights practice. His work on behalf of at-risk individuals has earned multimillion dollar awards and resulted in sweeping judicial and legislative reforms.

“This practice will provide a loud and clear voice for children who cannot speak or themselves in the state and federal courts and state capitals – Florida’s most vulnerable abused, medically fragile and developmentally disabled children,” said Talenfeld, who will be joined at the firm by children’s rights attorneys Stacie J. Schmerling, Rayni A. Rabinovitz, and Nicole R. Coniglio. “The time is right to leave Colodny, Fass, Talenfeld, Karlinsky ,Abate, & Webb, P.A. after 34 years as the firm became a nationally renown insurance regulatory, litigation and lobbying powerhouse with plans to expand.”

Nan Rich, the former elected representative who has worked closely with Talenfeld on children’s issues, said the move should come as no surprise to those who know Talenfeld or his former firm.

“A large law firm has lots of masters, and sometimes I think they can cause conflicts,” Rich told the Daily Business Review. “Howard has made it clear through what he’s doing legally and his volunteer efforts that he wants to devote all his time and energy to protecting children. He’s really devoting his life to that. I think he needs to be in a place where he can do that unimpeded.”

Among his wins, Talenfeld earned significant damages awards and settlements against New York City and the Archdiocese of Brooklyn, which together paid more than $27 million in the case of Judith Leekin, a foster mother whose “house of horrors” imprisoned, abused and starved 10 disabled foster children. In Florida, Talenfeld is responsible for scores of million dollar plus victories in federal civil rights claims against DCF employees and providers also resulting in the landmark decisional law protecting the rights of children and disabled persons.

Talenfeld was among the first attorneys nationally to utilize the federal civil rights damage statute 42 USC section 1983 to recover damages for injured foster children. In the 2001 case Roe v. Florida Department of Children & Family Services, he recovered a $5 million dollar damage award, an amount in excess of Florida’s sovereign immunity limit of $100,000, on behalf of six foster children. In another example, the state agreed to pay more than $14 million in the a case where foster mother Nellie Johnson repeatedly and brutally beat her foster children, even after the Florida Department of Children and Families knew of the harm they were enduring.

Talenfeld is a founder and president of Florida’s Children First, the state’s leading child advocacy organization that provides a voice in the state’s capital for at-risk children by advocating for significant legislative actions. This year alone, the organization helped pass two laws, including the Counsel for Dependent Children with Special Needs, which provides the right to legal counsel for disabled and special-needs children in the state dependency system. Also, Talenfeld was successful in having the Florida Legislature require the mandatory reporting, safety planning and the provision of services for all children involved in child-on-child sexual abuse.

His advocacy have been reported in the media for more than 20 years including in the New York Times, Prime Time Live, CNN, Sun Sentinel and the Miami Herald, and have earned Talenfeld numerous professional awards, including the Florida Bar Association “President’s Award of Merit” and the Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Award for the 17th Judicial Circuit.

About Talenfeld Law

Talenfeld Law is led by Howard Talenfeld, one of the nation’s preeminent children’s rights attorneys focusing exclusively on protecting the rights of physically and sexually abused children, developmentally disabled children and other at-risk children. Learn more on Talenfeld’s child advocacy blog. FloridaChildAdvocate.com

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