Volunteer lawyers answer consumer questions on landlord-tenant issues at the Lawyers on Call public service program, Nov. 11, 2014.

Volunteer lawyers answer consumer questions on landlord-tenant issues at the Lawyers on Call public service program, Nov. 11, 2014.

Today I share some news from my colleague Alberto Rodriguez:

The State Bar of Arizona, 12 News, and azcentral.com hosted the Lawyers on Call public service program on Tuesday, November 11. Volunteers answered viewers’ calls regarding their landlord/tenant issues.

Five volunteer attorneys assisted with the program: Clare Abel (Burch & Cracchiolo PA); Kristen Coyne (CKGH Law); Clint Dunaway (Dunaway Law Group PLC); Mark Heldenbrand (J. Mark Heldenbrand PC); and Nick Wood (Snell & Wilmer).

The lawyers answered 28 calls on landlord/tenant issues. Compared to previous phone banks, there was a substantial decrease in calls.

Sample consumer questions:

  • How can I break my lease? How long of a notice do I have to provide my landlord?
  • I don’t have a lease agreement with my landlord, how do I request one?
  • My landlord won’t fix issues with my unit. What can I do?
  • Fumigation has not fixed the bedbug and roach infestation, what can I do?
  • How do I evict a tenant?

One out of the five attorneys was a first-time volunteer. Returning volunteers were surprised at the low call volume, but were hopeful that consumers are experiencing fewer issues with their landlords/tenants.

Next month, volunteer lawyers will answer consumers’ mental health, disability, and elder law questions on Tuesday, December 2, the final Lawyers on Call public service program of 2014.

Lincoln_by John Holcomb

Abraham Lincoln would want you to share news of the State Bar’s great Law Day event. (painting by John Holcomb)

The State Bar of Arizona has a rich tradition of participating in Law Day, that annual national event reminding all of us how valuable the rule of law can be. And this year, they continue that commitment.

I have been privileged to moderate the Bar’s Law Day event a few times. In 2008, our topic was judicial merit selection, and we had a blast with a talented panel of speakers who are lawyers and judges. When I moderated, I had the chance to ask challenging questions that (I hope) led panelists to explore the topic fully.

I recall being offered a deep scowl when I devil’s-advocated a former Bar President panelist with the question, “So why not sign on to Senate confirmation of judges? Our current system came from Missouri, not from Moses.”

The next year, I was the moderator of our program centered on the screening of competing Law Day videos created by high school students. Much of it is a blur, but I do recall that I wore a beard and stovepipe hat to honor Abraham Lincoln. (Good times. No photo survives.)

So my Law Day affection is deep and abiding, and that’s why I am looking forward to this year’s offering by the Bar (no moderating required).

The Bar’s events will occur on Saturday, April 27, and they aim to provide the highest possible testimony to the value of our legal system—by providing actual legal information to those who need it most.

State Bar of Arizona logoThe very ambitious programming will cover four-plus legal topics, and the information will be provided at five locations around the Valley and in Tucson. There will be no charge.

More information on the clinics is here, or contact my colleague Alberto Rodriguez at 602-340-7293 or alberto.rodriguez@staff.azbar.org.

And if any lawyer-readers want to participate by offering her or his services, for one session, a half-day or (dare I ask it?) a full day, also contact Alberto. He is seeking lawyers who can provide information in the following focus areas: landlord/tenant; immigration (there will be sessions in both Spanish and English); divorce, child support and paternity; and bankruptcy and foreclosure. 

Abe Lincoln would have been proud.

And for those who join me in being pleased at the Bar’s commitment to legal services and the value of lawyers and law, let me share one anecdote that I read at my Law Day moderator gig in 2008:

“During the Suez Invasion of 1956, the British Prime Minister was careful to exclude opinions that disagreed with his approach. He specifically instructed that Sir Gerald Fitzmaurice, the very distinguished Legal Advisor to the Foreign Office, and who had strongly and consistently advised that the British action was unlawful, should not be informed of developments: ‘Fitz is the last person I want consulted. The lawyers are always against our doing anything. For God’s sake, keep them out of it. This is a political affair.’”

That quality—of independent and honest counsel—is more valuable and more in need than ever before. Remember to share around the Bar’s Law Day agenda and encourage participation.