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Public Interest Attorney Josh Crabtree Likes to “Fight the Good Fight”

By the end of his time at the College of Law, Joshua Crabtree ’03 convinced himself to try corporate law for a while. Upon graduating, he did just that, working for Jones Day in Atlanta, a large firm at which he had previously worked as a summer associate. After some time, however, Crabtree returned to the Cincinnati area and worked for a smaller firm in town.

Reflecting back on his short career in private practice, Crabtree said he would no longer be practicing law if he stayed in that line of work. “I really had no satisfaction,” he said. The native of Monticello, Ky. – a small town in south central Kentucky, near the Tennessee border – said he began law school “with a clear vision that I wanted to be a public interest lawyer; that I wanted to ‘fight the good fight.’”

He is, indeed, working in the public sector now, serving as the managing attorney for the Covington-based Children’s Law Center.  The Children’s Law Center protects the legal rights of children through quality legal representation, research and policy development, and training and education of attorneys and others regarding children’s rights issues. The center currently provides services in Ohio and Kentucky, but collaborates with other organizations within the region and nationally.

Crabtree, who was a student extern at the Children’s Law Center while in law school, returned to work there full-time in 2004. He has been in his current role since 2007, which he likened to being a chief operating officer (COO). “I handle the day-to-day operations of the Children’s Law Center, from managing the administrative staff, running our student program, doing budgets, compliance with grants; I am responsible for our development office…” Crabtree said. “But I also carry a caseload.”

Like many other alums, Crabtree – who grow up in a tight-knit family – said he had “always wanted to go to law school.”  He remembers being babysat by his grandmother when he was just a few years old, and having to go with her to jury duty. “The judge would allow me to open the court,” he said. “I would sit in his lap and he let me bang the gavel.”

Crabtree also recalls his grandfather coming home for lunch each day and watching “Perry Mason” on television, as well as telling his kindergarten class he wished to be a Supreme Court justice when he grew up.

The Children Law’s Center managing attorney attended Transylvania University, a small liberal arts school in Lexington (Ky.). In addition to studying education, with a minor in classical studies, Crabtree swam for the university’s swim team.

After graduating from Transylvania in 2000, Crabtree had the opportunity to teach seventh grade language arts and social studies, before heading to the College of Law.  In addition to his busy life as an attorney, Crabtree said that church and family are a major part of his life outside the office. He also enjoys running and cooking.

He also takes pride in serving on boards, such as the Interfaith Hospitality Network / Family Promise. He also is a member of the Kentucky Bar Association’s Committee on Child Protection and Domestic Violence, among other activities.

Crabtree is certainly a busy man, but loves what he is doing and the type of work with which he is involved. “I don’t think I would do anything other than public interest law,” he said. “This is the work that I love to do. I am one of those people that is extremely lucky to find what they love and be able to do it.”

By: Jordan Cohen, ‘13