Board Member Spotlight: Janis Puracal
February 27, 2015
Janis C. Puracal is an appellate attorney at Maloney Lauersdorf Reiner PC. Ms. Puracal received a BA from New York University in 2001 and a JD from Seattle University School of Law in 2007. Ms. Puracal served as a judicial clerk in a three-judge chamber at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague. She went on to build an appellate practice at MLR based on her extensive experience in jury trials, appeals, and arbitrations.
Ms. Puracal is also known for her pro bono work in the community. She joined the NCVLI board in 2013 and then became a co-founder of the Oregon Innocence Project. Her commitment to this work stems from the two years she spent on a pro bono representation leading an international campaign to free her brother, Jason Puracal, from wrongful conviction in Nicaragua. Her work included briefing in the Nicaraguan and international courts, diplomatic relations in the U.S. and Nicaragua, lobbying on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, and media appearances on a national and international level, including CNN, Reuters, and The Today Show. Ms. Puracal has used her experience in that case to advocate for legal reform and to engage law students in the process.
What one thing has surprised you or have you learned about victims’ rights since you started your board service?
One thing that has surprised me about this work is how much overlap exists between all sides represented in the judicial system. Whether prosecution or defense, victim or perpetrator, there exists some principles on which we can agree. I want to explore those areas and use them to build a better system.
What motivates you to do the work on the Board?
I am motivated by the attorneys and staff at NCVLI. Everyone at NCVLI believes so strongly in the work, and they have all been selfless about it. It is exciting to be a part of something meaningful.
What has been the most rewarding thing you have done in your professional life?
The most rewarding experience of my professional life was the two years I spent working to free my brother from wrongful conviction in Nicaragua. Those two years were the worst two years of my life. But the experience, although extremely painful, changed me and the way that I see the world.