Pro Bono


NAPABA_logoIn the upcoming Arizona Attorney Magazine, I talk about a national legal event coming to our state—the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association convention. More to come soon.

But in the meantime, convention organizers are putting together an event that helps military personnel. Your help may be needed—and you need not be a convention registrant to step up.

Attorney Jared Leung is President of AAABA, the Arizona affiliate. And he has issued a call for help. When are you needed? Sunday, Nov. 9, from 7 am to noon.

What’s happening? NAPABA is donating money and volunteer hours to assist Phoenix-based “Packages from Home.” Attendees will assemble 300 care boxes of comfort foods for military men and women stationed overseas.

As Jared says:

“The Project is absolutely wonderful, as we are packing food boxes for military men and women based overseas. These boxes must be packed in a certain way and inspected carefully because of security and shipping reasons. You will receive training on-site and assist others volunteers, who are attendees of the Convention from all over the country. You do not need to have registered for the NAPABA Convention to volunteer in this event, and we encourage you to bring a friend, family member, or significant other to come as well.”

See the flyer below for more information.

For more information or to RSVP to lend your assistance, contact Jared at jleung@fclaw.com.

More detail about the Convention is here.

AAABA Packages From Home event

Arizona Corporate Counsel Awaards logoHave you met or worked with in-house counsel who impress you with their skills and approach? Organizers of an annual award event seek your nominations.

Founded by AZ Business Magazine and the Association of Corporate Counsel state chapter, the Arizona Corporate Counsel Award nominations are due by Thursday, October 23.

More detail and a nomination form are here.

Categories include:

  • Public company (large and small)
  • Private company (large and small)
  • Nonprofit company
  • Government/municipal/public sector
  • Up-and-comer
  • In-house law department of the year
  • Litigator of the year
  • Intellectual property attorney of the year
  • Community/pro bono attorney of the year

The Awards Dinner will be held at the Camelback Inn on January 15, 2015.

The State Bar of Arizona is a presenting partner for the program.

Arizona family law attorneys answer consumer questions during Lawyers on Call, September 2, 2014.

Arizona family law attorneys answer consumer questions during Lawyers on Call, September 2, 2014.

Some news from my State Bar colleague Alberto Rodriguez:

On Tuesday, September 2, volunteer lawyers offered their time to answer family law questions as part of the State Bar’s successful Lawyers on Call program.

Those volunteer attorneys answered 96 calls on family law issues—66 of which were addressed via social media. That resulted in a total of 162 people who were helped.

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_ColorThe volunteer attorneys were: Steven Clark, Cody L. Hayes, Heidi Lukacsik, Kelly Mendoza, Jennifer Moshier, Felicia Schumacher, Mike Skupin and Margo A. Shorr.

Two of the eight attorneys were first-time volunteers.

Attorneys received a wide variety of consumer questions. Among them:

  • How can I enforce a child support order? Can I modify a current child support order?
  • How can I terminate child support?
  • Do I have to allow for parenting time if I’m receiving child support?
  • What should I do if I can’t locate my child’s parent to request child support?
  • Do I have any rights as a grandparent?
  • Can I file for a divorce if my spouse doesn’t want to?
  • Can I file bankruptcy if I’m going through a divorce?
  • How do I enforce a divorce decree?

Social media has increased in popularity during the years Lawyers on Call has been in place. On September 2, 75 consumers asked their questions via the 12 News Facebook page, 66 of which attorneys Heidi Lukacsik and Margo Shorr responded to with their recommendations/advice.

Next month, volunteer lawyers will answer consumers’ bankruptcy and foreclosure questions on Tuesday, October 7.

AZ Supreme Court logoAccess to justice saw another positive step in Arizona this month, as Chef Justice Bales named the membership of the newly formed commission charged with examining the issue.

The creation of the Commission and the Chief Justice’s views on it were covered by me here. You also should read the Court’s new strategic agenda here. (And the August 20 Administrative Order is here.)

Here is the Court’s announcement of the new members. As mentioned before, the group will be led by its chair appellate court Judge Larry Winthrop.

“Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Scott Bales announces the formation of the 18-member Commission on Access to Justice. The Commission will be chaired by Lawrence F. Winthrop, Judge on Division One of the Arizona Court of Appeals and former president of the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education.”

“‘Promoting Access to Justice’ is the first of five goals outlined in Advancing Justice Together: Courts and Communities, the new five-year strategic agenda for Arizona’s judiciary. In the Pledge of Allegiance, Chief Justice Bales noted, we commit ourselves to the goal of justice for all. The new Commission will be charged with identifying specific strategies to help us better realize this goal as our State’s population and technology change.”

“‘This is not a study commission; it’s a commission that will actively develop innovative ideas that remove barriers to justice,’ Chief Justice Scott Bales said.”

An Administrative Order issued on August 20 outlines initial priorities for the Commission:

  • Assisting self-represented litigants and revising court rules and practices to facilitate access and the fair processing of family court and eviction cases.
  • Encouraging lawyers and law firms to provide pro bono services or financial support for civil legal aid for those who cannot afford counsel.
  • Informing lawyers and other citizens about the availability of a state income tax credit for contributions to agencies that serve the working poor, including legal services agencies in Arizona.

In many family and justice court cases, one or more of the parties does not have a lawyer.  Self-representation presents a tremendous challenge not only to those litigants, but also to judges and other court personnel.

“Our courts and judges are doing the best they can under the circumstances, but the question is whether we can do a better job of helping people who choose to represent themselves in court, or for those who cannot afford the services of a lawyer,” Judge Winthrop said. “Our state has made great strides in this area over the last several years, but there remain some critical needs, such as helping people understand the process and navigate the court system. We also should do what we can to boost financial resources for legal service organizations who assist those most in need.”

Access to justice can be golden: Arizona Attorney Magazine opening image for a story on the topic by former State Bar of Arizona President Amelia Craig Cramer, Oct. 2012.Judge Winthrop also hopes that the Commission can further engage the business community concerning these issues.

“We want business and government leaders to understand that meaningful access to justice is a workplace and productivity issue. Most of the self-represented litigants in family court and housing cases are, in fact, part of some company’s work force. The whole enterprise suffers if your employee or co-worker is out of the office because they’re in family court or are dealing with housing issues,” Judge Winthrop explained. “If we can help people effectively resolve their court matters and in less time, that’s a ‘win-win’ for both the employee and the employer.”

Judge Winthrop said that people with legal issues are sometimes overwhelmed, and often don’t know where to go for legal help. Raising awareness of civil legal service options and encouraging greater community involvement will be a goal of the Commission. Taking advantage of advances in technology, retooling existing court-based legal self-help centers and the idea of expanding such services into a public library or community college setting will be possible approaches considered by the Commission.

Members of the Commission on Access to Justice include:

Chair

Lawrence F. Winthrop, Arizona Court of Appeals, Division I

Michael Jeanes, Superior Court Clerk

Mike Baumstark, Administrative Director of the Courts or designee

Kip Anderson, Court Administrator

Kevin Ruegg, Executive Director, Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education          

Maria Elena Cruz, Superior Court Judge

John Phelps, Executive Director, State Bar of Arizona or designee

Janet Barton, Superior Court Judge

Ellen Katz, Legal Aid Services, Maricopa

James Marner, Superior Court Judge

Anthony Young, Legal Aid Services, Southern Arizona

Thomas Berning, Limited Jurisdiction Court Judge

Steve Seleznow, Public Member

Rachel Torres Carrillo, Limited Jurisdiction Court Judge

Lisa Urias, Public Member

Barb Dawson, Attorney

Millie Cisneros, Attorney

Janet Regner, Arizona Judicial Council Liaison

Volunteers Roger Ferland and Kay Nehring at the 2013 Arizona StandDown. (photo: Alberto Rodriguez)

Volunteers Roger Ferland and Kay Nehring at the 2013 Arizona StandDown. (photo: Alberto Rodriguez)

Some great front-page news: How often can you say that?

But that’s exactly what we had in yesterday’s Arizona Republic, where we learned that attorney Roger Ferland had been honored as the Outstanding Disabled Vet of the Year by the National Disabled Veterans of America.

The story, aptly titled “Phoenix veteran keeps giving back,” is here.

ArmyOneSource logoYou may recall hearing Roger’s name before, often in regard to his massive efforts to assist vets who may need legal assistance.

I wrote about him here, as he played a key role in the Arizona StandDown.

He also was a force for good in the Bar’s participation in the initiative called Army One Source, a national program to recruit volunteer lawyers. Through the leadership of Roger, Arizona yielded the highest number of volunteer lawyers of any participating state. You can read more about that program here.

Congratulations to Roger Ferland, and thank you for your service.

And a hat-tip to John Phelps for alerting me to this great news.

landlord and tenant rental-agreement

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, June 3.

The following is a recap of the program, which focused on landlord and tenant issues.

The volunteer attorneys were:Clare Abel, Kristin Coyne, Paul Henderson, Richard Klauer, Ellen Lawson, Thomas Leavell, Patricia Premeau and Christopher Walker.

Volunteer attorneys answered 118 calls on landlord and tenant issues. An additional 18 consumers were assisted via social media, which gave us a total of 136 people who were helped.

Here is a sample of consumer questions:

  • I have been living in the rental unit and paying rent but have not signed a lease. What should I do?
  • I am being harassed by other tenants. What can I do?
  • A tree on the property fell on my car. Is the landlord responsible?
  • If my landlord isn’t making improvements, should I withhold rent until they’re made?
  • I have a roach/bed bug problem. Can I break my lease because of the issue?
  • I am renting a two-bedroom unit that is occupied by eight people. Can I evict them?
  • My landlord has not fixed my A/C. What should I do?
  • Is it legal for my landlord to withhold deposits if no issues were found at move out?
  • I have a continued mold problem that my landlord won’t address. What should I do?

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_ColorSocial media continues to be a successful element of Lawyers on Call. Eighteen consumers asked their questions via the 12 News Facebook page, and attorney Patricia Premeau responded with her recommendations/advice.

One of the eight attorneys was a first-time volunteer.

Next month, volunteer lawyers will answer consumers’ estate planning/wills & trusts questions on Tuesday, July 1.

AZ Center for Law in Public Interest squibUnbelievably, May is about to pass. Before it does, I urge you to read a great article in this month’s issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine.

Every spring, I weigh the wisdom of putting non-arts content into our May issue. After all, over the past decade-plus, readers have grown accustomed to enjoying the amazing work of the lawyer-winners of our Creative Arts Competition in that issue. Non-arts content, I fear, may get lost in the sauce.

But when I heard from Tim Hogan about an anniversary of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, I was hooked. There may be no public interest law firm that has touched on so many vital aspects of a state’s legal health as ACLPI has.

And when I read the draft by Timothy Hogan & Joy Herr-Cardillo, I was doubly impressed. Here’s how the article opens:

Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest logo“The Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. The Center started from humble beginnings in 1974 to become one of the most successful public interest law firms in the country. No one could have predicted that the Center would still be an important force for justice in Arizona four decades years after the organization began with nothing more than a desk, a phone and a typewriter—with only one young lawyer to type on it. This is a story about that law firm’s journey.”

Here is the complete story. Please let me know what you think. And let me know which of the Center’s many significant cases have made the biggest impression on you, as an attorney and an Arizonan.

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