Pro Bono


AZ Summit Law School Phoenix Law logoSome news from the folks at Arizona Summit Law School (please feel free to pass it on to people who could benefit):

Arizona Summit Law School, a private law school located in downtown Phoenix, is hosting a one-day event to provide free legal information and limited-scope legal advice and assistance to people seeking help on matters related to family law, general business, probate and estate planning, and landlord/tenant disputes.

Susan Daicoff, director of legal clinics at Summit Law

Susan Daicoff, director of legal clinics at Summit Law

Approximately 50 Summit Law students, faculty, and alumni will be providing pro bono legal services; each student will be supervised by faculty or alumni who are practicing attorneys.  The school hopes to assist as many individuals as possible during its first Access to Justice Day.

“As we enter our tenth year, Arizona Summit Law School is excited to expand its work within our community,” said Susan Daicoff, director of legal clinics at Summit Law. “While our clinics have helped many clients over the years, from family law to our work at the Human Services Campus, this free day of legal assistance allows more of us to come together as a law school, to serve more people in our community who may not be able to afford legal advice.”

When: Friday, March 13, 2015, 10 am – 2 pm

Where: Arizona Summit Law School, 1 North Central Ave. in downtown Phoenix

Check-in will be held in the school’s lobby area where a pre-screening occurs. Individuals will then be guided to the appropriate station.

Spanish-speaking translators will be available.

Dean Shirley Mays Arizona Summit Law School

Dean Shirley Mays, Arizona Summit Law School

Individuals seeking assistance with complex issues requiring more than a short consultation will be referred to appropriate lawyers and organizations, including legal services agencies (community organizations who offer free or reduced-cost legal assistance), local attorneys, and Summit Law alumni.

“One of the pillars of our mission here at Summit Law is to serve the underserved,” said Arizona Summit Law Dean Shirley Mays. “For us, that means more than our efforts to diversify the legal profession by creating more opportunities for women and people of color to obtain a high quality legal education. That also means expanding our efforts to provide high quality legal information and advice to those in the community who might not otherwise have the financial circumstances to meet with a legal professional.”

For questions related to parking, directions or how the event will be structured, email Probono@azsummitlaw.edu. Note: No legal advice will be provided through this email address, and no information or legal matters will be reviewed in advance.

Ariz. Chief Justice Scott Bales

Ariz. Chief Justice Scott Bales

Here is some news from Community Legal Services, Phoenix:

On February 6, 2015, Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Scott Bales collaborated with members of the team at Community Legal Services (CLS) to discuss ideas to assist low-income Arizonans’ access to justice. Community Legal Services is a non-profit, civil legal aid program serving low-income persons in Maricopa, Mohave, La Paz, Yavapai and Yuma counties. Of primary consideration were the barriers to equal access to justice, including those litigants face prior to and during court.

This past year, Justice Scott Bales announced the formation of the Access to Justice Commission, headed by Arizona Court of Appeals Judge Lawrence Winthrop. Justice Bales said that there have been significant successes in Arizona’s goal of increased access. This new commission is recognizing current challenges, and it will help to focus and achieve tailored plans for success.

The plight of accessing equal access to justice is an everyday occurrence at Community Legal Services, whose client community have legal problems in several areas of law, including family law, housing, consumer, employment, health and economic stability.

Community Legal Services logoJustice Bales discussed the goals of the Commission with CLS attorneys. Commission members are studying and will make recommendations on innovative ways to promote access to justice for individuals who cannot afford legal counsel and will evaluate best practices within Arizona and other states, identifying possible changes in court rules or practices designed to reduce barriers to access, identify and encourage the adoption of best practices among legal service providers, and consider potential long-term funding options.

This opportunity for Justice Bales to meet with CLS attorney staff was facilitated by Pamela Bridge, CLS Director of Litigation and Advocacy, who stated:

“Community Legal Services is extremely grateful for Chief Justice Bales’ dedication to improving access to justice in Arizona. We are excited to continue to collaborate with Chief Justice Bales and advocates throughout the state in order to work together to find meaningful, practical solutions to barriers to access to justice.”

We may already be into February, but it’s never too late for a resolution—especially when it involves access to justice.

Here I share my editor’s column from the January 2015 Arizona Attorney Magazine. You can read the entire (terrific!) issue here.

Kevin Ruegg (left) and Lillian Johnson were honored at a November 2014 Morris Institute for Justice event.

Kevin Ruegg (left) and Lillian Johnson were honored at a November 2014 Morris Institute for Justice event.

 

Are you a big advocate of New Year’s Resolutions?

Me either. But a recent event has me rethinking my position.

In late November, a parade of respected lawyers and judges gathered to laud some folks who have offered tremendous service to the legal profession, and to those who rely on it. Through their incredible contributions, the two individuals also have served the cause of increasing access to justice—even through the toughest of times.

Kevin Ruegg, of the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education, and Lillian Johnson, of Community Legal Services, were the people recognized that night at the University Club in Phoenix. And the kind and accurate words offered in their praise highlight our good fortune in Arizona. But they also highlight the unmet need (and our shared 2015 resolution; more on that soon).

The assembled speakers were luminaries themselves, and they called themselves privileged to be asked to praise the two women.

Judge Joe Kreamer said that they care deeply about those who require legal services—and just as deeply about those sitting in front of them or working in their offices.

Judge Kreamer told listeners how Lillian is committed to the collaborative aspects of access to justice, and attorney Marc Kalish added, “Anyone who has ever served on the CLS board ends his or her service with one emotion: love.”

I think it can safely be said that is a rare characteristic indeed of board service.

Of Kevin Ruegg, Todd Lang said, “She’s a healer for our community and for her staff. She has made a difference in so many ways.”

It is accurate, I believe, to apply an element of Todd’s praise to Kevin, Lillian and Ellen Katz, Executive Director of the William E. Morris Institute for Justice: They are “among the special heroes for justice.” (Todd brought smiles when he described the passionate but mild-mannered Katz as “relentless and remorseless.”)

That night, we also heard remarks from Chief Justice Scott Bales, Judge Larry Winthrop, and Judge Roxanne Song Ong (who said she headed up the “Kevin Ruegg Fan Club”).

So what do we take away from the fact that two of the most humble but hardest-working people in Arizona were honored?

For that—our Resolution—I turn to Todd Lang.

He reminded everyone that those who gathered that night had already given much. The room was filled with folks committed to legal aid, and access to justice, and legal education. Badgering those people to do more is probably not the solution.

Perhaps you fall within one of those esteemed groups. If so, thank you. But if not, digging deep and giving what you can to a legal aid organization can make a tremendous difference. And for both groups, you may still have a Resolution to offer: As Todd said, “Get your friend to give.” That’s right, commit to becoming an unabashed advocate for access to justice issues. Decide today that you will become a royal pain to colleagues and friends in 2015, the one they can count on to beat that lonely drum.

You never know; you may start a band.

 

AZ Bar access to justice immigration event 12-22-14

The State Bar of Arizona continues to play a significant role in educating consumers about immigration law. It couldn’t come at a better time.

Previously, I mentioned a few events the Bar scheduled in December to help the public understand the ins and outs of the recent presidential Executive Order on immigration. Today, I offer a follow-up to the event held on December 22. Just three days before Christmas, more than a dozen lawyers offered their time and expertise to a packed-to-the-rafters crowd. It was scheduled in a way to accommodate consumers who have jobs and other daytime obligations, so it’s even more impressive that the attorneys attended until 10:00 p.m. Well done and congratulations.

The forum’s format opened with a 45-minute presentation on the topic by attorney Ezequiel Hernandez, followed by the opportunity to speak with individual lawyers.

Univision_Arizona logoKeep in mind that the December 22 event followed on the heels of a phone bank organized by the Bar the day after the President’s Executive Order (a phone bank held on a Friday night and that included some dedicated volunteer attorneys).

I can’t help but feel that the Bar is probably a long way ahead of other organizations in regard to educating folks on this breaking topic.

Here’s the update:

Thirteen volunteer attorneys came together on Monday, December 22, to offer free legal advice at an informational session and legal assistance clinic hosted by the State Bar of Arizona and its partner Univision Arizona at St. Agnes Church in Phoenix. This access to justice program, held from 5:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m., was organized to inform consumers, dispel myths, and combat consumer fraud related to immigration law and deferred action.

Approximately 550 consumers attended the access to justice event, and 286 families participated in one-on-one consultations with volunteer attorneys.

The 13 volunteer attorneys were:

  • Marysol Angulo, Hernandez Global
  • Emilia Banuelos, Banuelos Law Office
  • Seth Draper, Salvatierra Law Group
  • State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_ColorJudy Flanagan, Judy C. Flanagan, PC
  • Lisette Flores, Friendly House
  • Jaime Garcia, Garcia Law Group
  • Marni Guerrero, Guerrero Jefferies Law Group
  • Ezequiel Hernandez, Hernandez Global
  • Claudia Lopez, Law Office of Claudia P. Lopez PLLC
  • Jose L. Penalosa, Penalosa & Associates
  • Cynthia J. Perez,  Hammond Law Group
  • Juan Rocha, Rocha Law Office
  • Ray Ybarra Maldonado, Law Office of Ray A. Ybarra Maldonado

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_Color

[Note: This article was edited to clarify the role that Ezequiel Hernandez played in regard to the White House. According to Hernandez, he was one of four legal experts from Univision whom the White House spoke with to ensure accurate information was communicated and to communicate the message against fraud; the description of him as “a White House consultant” was inaccurate. I apologize for the error.]

You may recall that one day after the President’s Executive Order on immigration—one day—the State Bar offered an event that included lawyers giving advice on that very topic.

Now, in the week before Christmas, when most of us are devising ways to enjoy the holiday and think less about work, my colleague Alberto Rodriguez passes on news of two more immigration-related events put on by the Bar and partner Univision. One is tonight, and the second is next Monday. No rest for the weary!

(At one of the events, Univision correspondent and attorney Ezequiel Hernandez of Hernandez Global Law Firm will speak. Read more about him here.)

I’ll get to the events in a second, but I’ve got to say: They represent many, many hours of work—to locate attorneys, line up venues, and nail down all of those tiny details that can make or break public gatherings. Congratulations to Alberto and everyone who has had a hand in this.

Ezequiel Hernandez

Ezequiel Hernandez

“The State Bar of Arizona is partnering with Univision Arizona to host two access to justice programs focused on immigration/deferred action. In an effort to inform consumers, dispel myths, and combat consumer fraud, both organizations have come together to offer a 2-hour Abogados a Su Lado phone bank on December 18 and a special immigration session and legal-aid clinic on December 22.”

“On Thursday, December 18, eight volunteer attorneys will answer viewers’ questions during the 2-hour Abogados a Su Lado phone bank from 5 to 7 p.m. on Univision 33.”

“On Monday, December 22, the Bar will host a 30-minute information session that will include an overview of the Bar’s consumer protection services and endorsements (for the Bar) by two nationally recognized immigrant rights organizations. In addition, Ezequiel Hernandez, a Contributor and legal expert for Univision News National Network, will offer a brief presentation on deferred action.”

“Following the presentation, twelve volunteer attorneys will offer one-on-one consultations. The information session and legal-aid clinic will be held from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at Saint Agnes Catholic Church located at 1954 North 24th Street in Phoenix.”

“Univision Arizona will record the information session and legal-aid clinic, which will then be broadcast as a 30-minute immigration special, replacing their evening news—date to be determined.”

Marian Yim (far right) was one of the honorees to receive the national Trailblazers Award at the annual NAPABA Convention, November 2014.

Marian Yim (far right) was one of the honorees to receive the national Trailblazers Award at the annual NAPABA Convention, November 2014.

Last month, Arizona was privileged to host a national conference of lawyers and law students. The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) event featured quite a few excellent seminars and plenary sessions—plus a Mercedes raffle. (I mentioned one of its signature events here.)

Among the things NAPABA gets right is the use of video to draw people in. They were effective at marketing the conference in advance and as tools to tell stories from the event once it was done.

Attorney Jared Leung, President of the Arizona Asian American Bar Association, kindly shared three of those videos. I pass them on with the hope that other event organizers will take their lead. (All videos are courtesy of Ty Ng of TwinTygr Films.)

The first video offered a broad overview of all the conference’s highlights:

The next video demonstrated the group’s community-service efforts benefiting Packages From Home and the veterans it serves. As Jared said:

NAPABA_logo“Barry Wong was instrumental in setting this wonderful community project at the NAPABA Convention.  It would not have happened without his leadership on this. Also, over 25 of you woke up early on Sunday morning, arriving at the Convention at 7 am to help set up the ‘production lines’ for the convention participants to pack the boxes. We had planned 2 hours to pack 300 boxes, but we ended up using a little over an hour and packed 315 boxes. The support and excitement was overwhelming and far exceeded our expectation. Your support was crucial to the success of this event. Thank you all so much!!

Here’s the video:

OK, best for last. Finally, Jared shared a video of the speech given by Marian Yim as she accepted the national Trailblazer Award. And Jared reminded attendees, “Marian gave us a challenge at the end of her speech: What kind of new APA lawyer are you going to be?”

I think that question could be asked of all attorneys. Here is the video of Marian:

Members of the Arizona Asian American Bar Association gather at the annual NAPABA Convention, Nov. 2014.

Members of the Arizona Asian American Bar Association gather at the annual NAPABA Convention, Nov. 2014.

On Nov. 21, 2014, volunteer attorneys answered almost 400 calls from Arizona consumers regarding immigration and the November 20 presidential executive order on the topic.

On Nov. 21, 2014, volunteer attorneys answered almost 400 calls from Arizona consumers regarding immigration and the November 20 presidential executive order on the topic.

Talk about timely: One day after historic action was taken by President Barack Obama on the topic of immigration, the State Bar of Arizona fielded a call-in program to address the inevitable questions that would arise.

As Alberto Rodriguez reports:

The State Bar of Arizona and Univision 33 hosted a special edition of Abogados a Su Lado (attorneys on your side) public service program on Friday, November 21. In response to the executive order issued by President Obama on Thursday, November 20, both the Bar and Univision organized a phone bank that would help clarify consumers’ questions regarding immigration law, as well as inform them of the initial details regarding the President’s executive order. The following is a recap of the program.

Nine attorneys volunteered their time and knowledge from 5:00 pm until 10:30 pm:

  • Emilia Banuelos, Banuelos Law Office
  • Tony Colon, Colon & Associates
  • Seth B. Draper, Salvatierra Law Group
  • Mark Egan, Gunderson Denton & Peterson
  • Magaly Fontes, Law Office of Magaly Fontes
  • Bruno Gitnacht, Law Office of Bruno Gitnacht
  • Ray Ybarra Maldonado, Law Office of Ray Ybarra Maldonado
  • Christina Ortecho, Ortecho Law
  • Matthew Thomas, Thomas Law Firm

The attorneys answered an astounding 385 calls regarding the President’s executive order and immigration law. This special edition phone bank was extended and offered during a five-and-a-half-hour time period.

Sample consumer questions:

  • When will the details be released? When and how do I apply for deferred action?
  • What are the specific details regarding the tax returns?
  • Does this cancel removal/voluntary departure procedures?
  • I got a DUI in the past, does this count as criminal activity?
  • How do I prepare? What documents do I need to provide?
  • I am already in the process of applying for citizenship, does this affect me?

All volunteers were satisfied with the quality of the questions overall and were excited to have participated in this special edition of Abogados a Su Lado public service program.

We thank Univision 33 for their continued partnership in providing this valuable “Access to Justice” program for the Spanish-speaking community.

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