In Memory of Tracey K. McPharlin

Dedicated child advocate and foster care rights attorney Tracey K. McPharlin, 44, passed away November 6, 2010 after a courageous battle with cancer. She was the advocates’ advocate.


Born in Miami in 1966 and raised in Plantation, Tracey graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas High School, attended Nova Southeastern University and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law School.

Soon after joining Colodny Fass in 2000, Tracey made her name and career advocating for the rights of children in the foster care system. She cared deeply for those fellow Florida residents who were most vulnerable or at risk.

Although she recovered scores of multi-million dollar damages awards on behalf of injured foster children, her work in H.A.L. v. Foltz 551 F.3d 1227 (C.A. 11 Fla. 2008) resulted in the landmark Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision which recognized that exposing foster children to child-on-child sexual abuse in foster care is a viable claim under the Federal Civil Rights act 42 USC § 1983. This case paved the way to protect many other children in Florida and throughout the country who are sexually abused in foster care.

In 2009, the Daily Business Review recognized Tracey as one of South Florida’s Most Effective Lawyers.

In 2009, Tracey was elected Statewide Chair of the Florida Bar’s Public Interest Law Section. In this capacity, she helped the Florida Bar achieve a consensus position on the representation of foster children in the juvenile court and spear-headed the effort in Florida to create a children’s law certification.

She was honored in October 2010 by Florida’s Children First Inc. “as an unsung hero who has made a significant difference in the lives of thousands of foster and disabled children in the state of Florida.” She was also recently honored with the Florida Bar Public Interest Law Section Hugh Glickstein Award.

“In a career only lasting 10 years, Tracey did a lifetime of work that will improve the lives of thousands of foster children. We will do our best to carry on her work,” said Howard M. Talenfeld, McPharlin’s law partner and fellow children’s rights attorney. “We will always miss Tracey.”