Northeast New Jersey Legal Services (NNJLS) congratulates Anna P. Navatta, NNJLS’s Director of Community Relations, on her appointment as co-chair of the Government, Public Sector, and Public Interest Lawyers Special Committee for the New Jersey State Bar Association. She will serve as co-chair through 2023.
“It’s an honor to be able to serve on this Special Committee, and represent NNJLS,” said Anna. “I really look forward to learning what my colleagues are experiencing in their work throughout New Jersey.” Anna has worked for NNJLS for 39 years, 24 of those in Disability benefits, and most recently in the Senior Law Unit, specializing in legal issues related to Wills, Powers of Attorney, Advanced Directives and safely aging-in-place.
Said NNJLS Executive Director Leah Ashe, “Anna is a skilled and caring advocate who has worked in the public sector, assisting our clients and mentoring our new attorneys, for many years. As Director of Community Relations, she devotes a great deal of time to community outreach, sharing information about our services and helping people understand their rights. Anna also regularly provides onsite services to some of the most vulnerable clients in our service areas. This appointment is so well-deserved, and I know that she will do a great job in this role.”
Anna grew up in Lyndhurst, NJ, and attended Rutgers University (Newark) and Seton Hall University School of Law. She first considered a career in law when she was in high school after reading a book on the Scopes Monkey Trial. “I thought, how interesting, to make your living based on your power to persuade,” she recalls.
In law school, after exploring criminal and corporate law, Anna began working with the Seton Hall Legal Services Clinic. She immediately found it a good fit. “I really fell in love with the work,” says Anna. “I felt that we were doing something positive for the client.”
When Anna began working for Bergen County Legal Services (now NNJLS), she was assigned to handle social security disability claims, a position she held for 20 years before moving briefly to housing law and then to senior law, where she continues to practice today.
Recalling the influences that shaped her, Anna says her biggest influence was her brother Joseph, who suffered from muscular dystrophy. Joseph encouraged her to go to college and, though his disability made it difficult, he attended high school and college himself, before passing away at the age of 24.
Because of her brother, Anna says, she knows the importance of pursuing one’s goals despite difficulties, which she found especially relevant to her work in disability law.
After securing disability income for a client, Anna says she always asked, “So what are you going to do now? Let’s look at the possibilities.”
Images: Anna P. Navatta, top, and bottom, Anna with her brother, Joseph