Pro Bono


Volunteer attorneys participate in the Lawyers on Call phone program, April 8, 2014, on the topic of family law.

Volunteer attorneys participate in the Lawyers on Call phone program, April 8, 2014, on the topic of family law.

Here is a follow-up to a State Bar event, by my colleague Alberto Rodriguez:

The State Bar of Arizona, azcentral.com and 12 News hosted the Lawyers on Call public service program on Tuesday, April 8.

The following is a recap of the program, which focused on family law—divorce, child support, and paternity issues

The volunteer attorneys were: Christa Banfield, Michael Clancy, Tali Collins, Michael Cordrey, DeeAn Gillespie Strub, Wendy Hernandez, Kris Leonhardt, Nancy Khiel, Londa Rivera and Patrick Sampair

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_ColorVolunteer attorneys answered 148 calls on family law issues. An additional 41 consumers were assisted via social media, which gave us an impressive total of 189 people who were helped.

Here is a sample of consumer questions:

  • How do I modify current child support payments?
  • How do I request/establish child support?
  • How do I modify custody and parenting time?
  • How can I request grandparent’s rights? What are my rights as a grandparent?
  • Can I travel outside of the country with my children?
  • What are the differences between a legal separation and a divorce? Pros/cons?
  • How do we divide assets?
  • Do I qualify for spousal maintenance?
  • Do I need to hire an attorney to file for divorce?

Social media continues to be a successful element of Lawyers on Call.  41 consumers asked their questions via the 12 News Facebook page and attorney Kris Leonhardt responded with her recommendations/advice.

All 10 attorneys were first-time volunteers.

Next month, volunteer lawyers will answer consumers’ bankruptcy and foreclosure questions on Tuesday, May 6.

APALSA Asian Pacific American Law Students Assn logoMark your calendars for this Saturday, April 5, when the first annual banquet of the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association (APALSA) of Arizona Summit Law School will be held.

The event is open to all, and proceeds will go toward scholarships for the ASU Asian LEAD Academy.

Here are some details:

  • Location: Arizona Summit Law School, 20th Floor- 1 North Central Phoenix, Arizona 85004
  • Time: 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm
  • Tickets: $15 pre-sale, $20 door

To purchase a ticket, email Larry Noyvong here: llnoyvong@student.azsummitlaw.edu

Here is a link to the ASU Asian Pacific Lead Academy. I have written about the great program and its results here.

There is a Facebook page for the event. And be sure to follow the Summit Law School’s APALSA organization here.

Thanks, to Vicente Reid Y Lugto, APALSA President, Arizona Summit Law School, for the detail and the invite.

APALSA banquet date 2014

AZ StandDown 2014 1 v2

I grow accustomed to learning about the great amounts of volunteerism about Arizona lawyers. That demonstrates how many attorneys recognize the value and importance of providing pro bono assistance.

But a communication I received from Bar colleague Alberto Rodriguez knocked me for a loop. Below, he reports on the volunteers who participated in the annual Arizona Veteran StandDown event. The amount of participation, by lawyers, law students and others, is stunning.

More photos from this year’s StandDown are here.

Thanks and congratulations to everyone who took part. Here’s Alberto:

On Friday, February 14 and Saturday, February 15 the State Bar of Arizona and 23 of its members participated in the 2014 Arizona Veterans StandDown. The State Bar and volunteer attorneys joined several service providers at the three-day event that offered a variety of health and human services to nearly 1,700 homeless and at-risk veterans in our state. Volunteer attorneys from across the valley fielded legal questions via one-on-one consultations with veterans seeking legal advice.

AZ StandDown 2014 2 v2

The “Civil Law Clinic” organized by the State Bar offered legal consultations by members who practice Family Law, Bankruptcy/Foreclosure/Tax Law, Probate/Trust Law, Elder/Mental Health Law, and Real Estate/Landlord & Tenant Law. In addition, Community Legal Services, Project Salute, and the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU participated in the civil law clinic.

Volunteer attorneys provided 177 consultations during the two-day civil law clinic for the 160 veterans who were seen. In addition, many attorneys offered pro-bono legal services after the StandDown to veterans who needed representation. Adding to the legal services provided for veterans, on-site courts coordinated by Gary Kula, Director of the City of Phoenix Public Defender’s Office, saw 937 veterans who needed to address court-related issues.

The following is a list of civil attorney and logistics volunteers:

Attorney Volunteers

  • Dorothy Brogan, Law Office of Dorothy E. Brogan
  • Robert C. Brown, Dickinson Wright
  • Rebecca E. Browning, Browning Law Office, PLLC
  • Kristen Coyne, CKGH Law
  • Rachel Frazier Johnson, Rachel Frazier Johnson Law
  • Steve Gervais, Land Advisors Organization
  • Sean D. Greengard, Community Legal Services
  • Peter Gustafson, Gustafson Law Office, PLLC
  • Taylor House, Taylor House Law, PLC
  • Christine Jensen, Christine Jensen, PC
  • Billy Miller, Law Firm of William A. Miller
  • Judy M. Miller, Judy M. Miller, PC
  • Maya Milovic, Tijjani, Milovic & Phillips, PLC
  • Matt Nelson, Project Salute
  • Nicole L. Pavlik, Forakis Law Firm
  • Bret Rasner, Community Legal Services
  • Jennifer Ryan-Touhill, Touhill Law Offices, PC
  • Bree Stamper-Gimbar, Community Legal Services
  • John Starkey, John Starkey Attorney at Law
  • Nina Targomilk, Community Legal Services
  • Jim P. Webster, James Portman Webster Law Office, PLC
  • Debbie Weecks, Weecks Law
  • John Withee, Withee Law Firm, PLLC

Certified Limited Practice Students (from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU)

  • Laura Anderson
  • Tory Beardsley
  • Christine Bolton
  • Marcy Karin, Clinical Professor of Law
  • Ryan Lockner

Logistics Volunteers

  • Rodrigo Antillon, Lambda Sigma Upsilon
  • Jesus Enriquez, Lambda Sigma Upsilon
  • Jerry Herrera, Community Legal Services
  • Denise Lopez, Magellan Health Services
  • Charles Wilson, Lambda Sigma Upsilon

AZ StandDown 2014 3 v2

State Bar of Arizona logoHere is a follow-up to a State Bar event, by my colleague Alberto Rodriguez:

The State Bar of Arizona, azcentral.com and 12 News hosted the Lawyers on Call public service program on Tuesday, February 4. Results were phenomenal, considering the smaller than normal volunteer base.

The following is a recap of the program, which focused on tax law.

tax law magnifying glassThe volunteer attorneys were: James E. Bielenberg, Jr., Nathan Carr, Joseph Lunsky, Lawrence “D” Pew and Kathryne Ward.

Phone lines were busy, and volunteers answered an impressive 110 calls on tax law. An additional 18 consumers were assisted via social media, which gave us a total of 128 people who were helped.

Here are a sample of consumer questions:

  • Tax implications on short sales, student loans, social security benefits, investments, etc.
  • What should I do if I have failed to file taxes–back taxes?
  • What can I deduct?
  • What tax implications do estates have? Inheritance? Death?
  • Where do I start if I’m going to be audited?

Eighteen consumers asked their questions via the 12 News Facebook page, and attorney Nathan Carr responded with his recommendations and advice.

Four of the five attorneys were first-time volunteers. James Bielenberg of Prescott made the two-hour drive to Phoenix so he could volunteer.

Next month, Lawyers on Call volunteers will answer employment and labor law questions.

pro bono gavelI can’t let January slip away without pointing you toward a great column in Arizona Attorney Magazine. In the last-page column titled “Extra Value for Community Service,” attorney Gary Restaino reminds us all about a revised Arizona rule that is aimed to encourage pro bono work—and that could get you some CLE credit.

Here’s how Gary opens his essay:

“I suspect that if we made a list of lawyers who seek to give back to their communities, and a second list of lawyers who get some degree of agita from the State Bar’s continuing legal education requirements, lots of us would be on both lists. If you are among those counted twice, have I got a deal for you. Starting in January 2014, when providing legal assistance to the indigent through ‘approved legal services organizations,’ you can earn CLE for your pro bono service.”

“Supreme Court Rule 45, as amended, permits a lawyer to claim one hour of CLE for every five hours of pro bono service, up to a maximum of five self-study CLE hours per year. (This would get you halfway to the aspirational 50 hours of annual pro bono assistance.) Wholly apart from the personal satisfaction you can receive from representing those in need, you can save money on CLE videos and courses.”

Read Gary’s whole column here.

To make it easier for you to get started, I reprint here the column’s sidebar that points you to a few great agencies where you might offer your talents.

Offering Your Help

To enroll as a volunteer to provide general legal assistance, contact:

Community Legal Services (Maricopa, Mohave, LaPaz, Yavapai and Yuma Counties)

Southern Arizona Legal Aid (Apache, Cochise, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, Navajo, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz Counties)

 DNA-People’s Legal Services (Coconino County, Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe)

An image of Gary’s essay is below; click to enlarge.

My Last Word Gary Restaino Arizona Attorney Magazine January 2014

News today from my State Bar of Arizona colleague Alberto Rodriguez, regarding the Bar’s first call-in program of 2014.

The January 7 Lawyers on Call public service event was hosted by azcentral.com and 12 News. The focus was estate planning—wills and trusts. Here’s a recap.

AZ Bar Lawyers on Call 01-07-14 estate planning

Ten attorneys volunteered their time and experience to answer consumer questions:

  • Steve Evans
  • Michael Friedman
  • Lindsey Jackson
  • T. James Lee
  • Dianne McNamara
  • Norm Miller
  • Mark Moritz
  • Nicole Pavlik
  • Ronald Wilson

Six of the ten attorneys were first-time volunteers.

All together, they answered 204 calls on estate planning, wills and trusts. An additional 33 consumers were assisted via social media, which gave us a total of 237 people who were helped.

Here is a sample of consumer questions:

  • State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_ColorWhat is the difference between a will and a trust? Which do I need?
  • Can I write my own will or do I need an attorney? How much does an average estate plan cost?
  • What should be included in a will or trust?
  • Can I make changes to my already existing will? If so, how do I go about it and how often?
  • How can I prepare to avoid probate?
  • I am not originally from Arizona, do I need to make changes to my will?

The azcentral.com and 12 News teams were successful in adding a social media component to the phone bank. Thirty-three consumers asked their questions via the 12 News Facebook page, and attorney Nicole Pavlik responded with her recommendations/advice.

Next month, volunteer lawyers will answer consumers’ tax law questions on Tuesday, February 4.

Charles "Chick" Arnold, 2013 Learned Hand Awards

Charles “Chick” Arnold, 2013 Learned Hand Awards

Huge Arizona news this week, as a 33-year-old case was finally settled. Congratulations to everyone involved, including the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest and the Governor’s Office and a lawyer—Charles Arnold—who started the ball rolling.

How the state addresses the needs of the seriously mentally ill was the subject of Arnold v. Sarn. Here is how the Arizona Republic described the case and settlement:

“The lawsuit, Arnold vs. Sarn, was filed in 1981 when advocates for the seriously mentally ill in Maricopa County turned to the courts for relief in treating patients who don’t qualify for Medicaid. Since then, a succession of Maricopa County Superior Court judges have served as watchdog for people with mental-health issues, monitoring state funding and hearing arguments about the adequacy of care, from housing to employment to skills training.”

“The agreement reached with the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, which represents the plaintiffs, outlines services that both sides say are key to giving the plaintiffs the best chance at a productive life. It includes provisions for housing, job training, employment and access to around-the-clock treatment that will cover both mental- and physical-health needs.”

“The agreement relies on $37.8million from the state’s general fund, as well as cost savings the state will get when seriously mentally ill patients previously covered by the state are insured by the state’s expanded Medicaid program. State officials estimate a quarter of those on state coverage will shift to Medicaid, for a savings of $9.5million.”

“In addition, by enrolling an estimated 70,000 more Arizonans in the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state’s Medicaid program, the state should reap an additional $20million to $30million a year, said Anne Ronan, an attorney for the plaintiffs. That money can be used to pay for the expanded housing, job and treatment services, she said.”

The article notes that “Charles ‘Chick’ Arnold, the ‘Arnold’ in the original 1981 court filing, lauded the agreement.”

Chick Arnold is an attorney, and one whose contribution is huge. Last April, I pointed out that he had been honored with the Learned Hand Award.

To read more about his contribution, read what the Republic’s E.J. Montini says about him.

I urge on you a terrific weekend and leave you with a quote from Chick Arnold:

“We have to knock down the prejudice surrounding people with mental illness. We feel sympathy for people with so many other conditions, but we feel fear when it comes to mental-health issues. And we shouldn’t. It is a disorder like any other disorder, only it happens to affect an organ that affects judgment. If we looked at this simply as a health issue, the stigma would go away and more people would be willing to seek the help they need. The question is: How do we get there? How do we change people’s perceptions?”

indigent defense need-blind justice by Yarek Waszul

Illustration by Yarek Waszul

Last month, I reported that attorney Larry Hammond and others are seeking to establish an Arizona indigent defense commission. The unfilled need is dire, he said, and growing worse. He asked the State Bar to step up and create a body that will study and propose alternatives. (The Bar is considering it.)

So timely, a New York Times article this Sunday explored two states’ responses to the crushing problem. Here is how Adam Liptak opens his piece on Need-Blind Justice:

“Fifty years ago, in Gideon v. Wainwright, the Supreme Court ruled that poor people accused of serious crimes were entitled to lawyers paid for by the government. But the court did not say how the lawyers should be chosen, how much they should be paid or how to make sure they defended their clients with vigor and care.”

“This created a simple problem and a complicated one. The simple one is that many appointed lawyers are not paid enough to allow them to do their jobs. The solution to that problem is money.”

“The complicated problem is that the Gideon decision created attorney–client relationships barely worthy of the name, between lawyers with conflicting incentives and clients without choices. Now a judge in Washington State and a county in Texas are trying to address that deeper problem in ways that have never been tried in the United States.”

“Their proposed solutions reflect competing schools of legal thought. The approach in Washington State is a top-down exercise of federal power, pushing lawyers to make sure they meet with their clients, tell them their rights, investigate their cases and represent them zealously in plea negotiations and at trial.”

“The one in Comal County, Tex., is a bottom-up appeal to the marketplace. Defendants there will soon be able to use government money to choose their lawyers in much the same way that parents in some parts of the country use government vouchers to pay for grade school.”

“The county calls it ‘client choice.’ Another name: Gideon vouchers.”

Read Liptak’s whole story here.

It was Justice Louis Brandeis who mused that states could serve as laboratories for democracy, where they might try “novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.” It seems that Washington and Texas are doing just that, all in service to a problem affecting countless residents.

Two questions arise:

  1. Which approach, if either, offers the greatest likelihood of success?
  2. Where is Arizona’s approach? Will it be one of those two, or an entirely different strategy that a new commission may devise?

In Arizona Attorney Magazine, we’d like to cover the developing conversation. So what do you think?

Pat Gerrich speaks oh-so-briefly at a Morris Institute event in her honor, Nov. 14, 2013, The Vig, Phoenix.

Pat Gerrich speaks oh-so-briefly at a Morris Institute event in her honor, Nov. 14, 2013, The Vig, Phoenix.

Last night, a crowd of folks gathered to honor the achievements of Patricia Gerrich, Director of the Volunteer Lawyers Program for Arizona.

Attendees at the Morris Institute for Justice event at The Vig in downtown Phoenix—those who know Pat, anyway—probably weren’t surprised that she courteously declined the accolades.

Instead, when it was her turn to speak, she reminded everyone about the vital work of the state’s volunteer lawyers and the Morris Institute.

“This event is not to honor me,” Pat began. “It is about the Institute and all of the important work it does.”

“They do work that helps a lot of people get a fair shake and a fair trial. They are all about access to justice.”

Morris Institute reception invitation 11-14-13 crop 1Enjoy your weekend. And if you get a free moment, click here to read about the organization. While you’re there, don’t miss that little button labeled “Donate to MIJ.”

And if you are a lawyer and want to do even more, I’ve posted some detail below (courtesy of attorney Gary Restaino) about a few fantastic legal services organizations in Arizona that could use your assistance.

Morris Institute for Justice LogoTo enroll as a volunteer to provide general legal assistance, contact:

Community Legal Services (Maricopa, Mohave, LaPaz, Yavapai and Yuma Counties)

Southern Arizona Legal Aid (Apache, Cochise, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, Navajo, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz Counties)

DNA–People’s Legal Services (Coconino County, Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe)

Morris Institute reception champagne glasses 11-14-13 crop 2

Larry Hammond speaks at the State Bar Board of Governors meeting, Oct. 25, 2013

Larry Hammond speaks at the State Bar Board of Governors meeting, Oct. 25, 2013

At the most recent meeting of the Board of Governors of the State Bar of Arizona, attorney Larry Hammond rose to shed light on a vital issue: legal representation for those who cannot afford it.

He is the chair of the Indigent Defense Task Force, and on October 25, he asked the board to form a State Indigent Defense Commission. It would be charged with examining that intractable problem and suggesting solutions.

How intractable? Well, as Larry noted, we are in the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright and we’re still wrestling with it.

In fact, I wonder how much has changed since the issuance of noteworthy reports like Gideon’s Broken Promise: America’s Continuing Quest for Equal Justice” (2003) and Gideon Undone: The Crisis in Indigent Defense Funding” (1982)?

(All of that, and more, are available on an ABA page dedicated to studies of the indigent defense system in the United States.)

Here is one of the things Larry said to the Governors in his appeal to create a commission:

“It is not just the duty of defense lawyers and victim advocates. We all must believe that competent, adequately funded representation is a part of all of our jobs.”

Do you agree?

I’ve invited Larry to write something for Arizona Attorney Magazine on the topic, both the crisis and the recommended response. I’ll keep you informed.

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