Our April 2016 issue features the stories of a small number of Arizona lawyers committed to access to justice through pro bono service.

Our April 2016 issue features the stories of a small number of Arizona lawyers committed to access to justice through pro bono service.

I fear I let a great April event fly by without properly acknowledging it—and the accomplishments of so many great attorneys.

The April issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine featured Access to Justice advocates—attorneys selected by the state’s VLPs (Volunteer Lawyers Programs) for their unstinting commitment to offering pro bono service.

The issue also allowed me to praise some law students from the University of Arizona for their accomplishments in a writing competition I was pleased to judge.

Here, I reprint my column and their photo. And be sure to read about all the A2J Advocates here.

Last month in this space, I wrote about courage and what it requires of us, in our choices and in our commitment to an accurate retelling of history.

Some of you have contacted me with feedback and insight about my words. If you haven’t, please feel free to read the column (http://ow.ly/Z1XfW) and send me your thoughts.

As I said there, it’s great when we can spot courage. But advocating for it and advancing it? That’s the role of leaders.

This month, we’re all about those courageous leaders. Our cover and story beginning on page 18 offer legal exemplars. In a month focused on access to justice, we raise a toast to lawyers who step into the breach to fill unfilled needs.

And in law school, leadership may be nurtured, as well.

As in years past, I’m privileged to report on some leaders-in-training, law students who prevailed in a rigorous writing competition at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. Congratulations to: Jillian Andrews (2L), first place ($2,500 award); Max Bradley (1L), second place ($1,500); Julie Pack (1L), third place ($1,000); and Kayla Bernays (1L), honorable mention ($750).

Richard Grand UA Law School legal writing awards 2016-page0001

As a competition judge, I can tell you that their work was moving and compelling—exactly what I would have expected!

Though I’m always happy to serve as a judge, I have nothing to do with the annual event’s theme or approach, which is developed by talented law school faculty. And so I was delighted to see the selected topic this year—courage.

And that makes sense, as the competition is named for Arizona lawyer Richard Grand, who never shrank from a fight. As the school describes him:

Over the course of his five-decade-long career, Tucson attorney Richard Grand worked tirelessly to achieve justice for his clients. His clients were often ordinary people who had suffered extraordinary injuries. The opposing parties were often large corporations and powerful insurance companies. Mr. Grand never retired, and he handled cases up until the last day of his life. Mr. Grand valued competence, communication, and courage.

Richard died in 2013. He would have been 86 this year, and he was a zealous advocate when advocates were allowed to be zealous. He and his wonderful wife Marcia funded (and continue to fund and inspire) this writing endeavor.

Congratulations to those lawyers and law students, past and present, who aim to close the justice gap.

pro bono gavelToday, here is some news you may be able to use—and definitely news you can share. (And please do!)

The State Bar of Arizona is hosting its fifth annual Law Day Legal Aid Clinics this coming Saturday, April 30, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. This valuable event has become one of the Bar’s signature access to justice events.

Law Day 2016 poster in english v2-page0001Co-hosting the event with the State Bar are ABC15 and Univision Arizona.

What happens at the event? Volunteer lawyers will provide free legal consultations on the following topics: divorce and child support/custody, bankruptcy and foreclosure, wills and trusts, and immigration.

And how has the Bar made the day even more accessible? By providing the consultations at two locations: At the Bar offices in Phoenix and at Glendale Community College. Spanish-speaking translators will be available.

All the details, including specific addresses, are here. Or call 602-340-7337 for more information.

Law Day 2016 poster in spanish-page-0_opt

And again, please share this with whomever you think could benefit.

Would pro bono legal help lead to the patenting of more useful items? (Here, an 1879 plow)

Would pro bono legal help lead to the patenting of more useful items? (Here, an 1879 plow)

I routinely hear about—and share—stories of the need for increased legal services, and how pro bono service fills some of that gap.

The needs are great and often thought of as being in areas such as bankruptcy, landlord–tenant, or employment law.

But what about a more esoteric area of law? Could there be a pro bono need for practice experts like that—such as in patent law?

That was the kind of thinking that led to the creation—the invention, you might say—of a patent law pro bono program. A friend, Diane D’Angelo, shared a recent story with me. It’s from the Denver Post, and you can read the whole thing here.

As the story indicates, the initiative, launched in 2012, involves a bar association and its attorneys in that practice area. The Pro Bono Patent Program is “led by Mi Casa Resource Center and Colorado Bar Association Intellectual Property Section to pair low-income inventors with patent professionals. Since its launch, 67 inventors have begun the application process and two were able to get their ideas patented.”

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office describes the initiative well; it arose from a law signed in 2011:

Patents and the ideas behind them are an engine of the economy (like this Scuderi split-cycle engine).

Patents and the ideas behind them are an engine of the economy (like this Scuderi split-cycle engine).

“The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) understands that one of the main barriers to getting a patent is cost-not necessarily the USPTO fees associated with patents, but the cost of hiring a skilled patent attorney to file and prosecute an application.”

“On September 16, 2011, President Obama signed the America Invents Act (AIA) into law. Section 32 of the AIA specifies that, ‘The Director shall work with and support intellectual property law associations across the country in the establishment of pro bono programs designed to assist financially under-resourced independent inventors and small businesses.’ ‘Pro bono’ is a Latin phrase meaning ‘done for the public good without compensation.’ With this directive, the USPTO effectively switched into full gear to implement its AIA Pro Bono Program, which it had already been developing in anticipation of the legislation. The president’s ink was still drying when the first client signed with the pilot program in Minnesota. Since that date, the program has expanded to connect clients with volunteer pro bono attorneys across the country in multiple regional programs.”

Read the full history here.

Just as important—and why I share the story now—on May 12, “Mi Casa, the Colorado Bar Association and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced the extension of the program—or ProBoPat—to the states of New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.”

According to the story, that increases the program’s range to 49 states. And the U.S. PTO shows Arizona as being one of those. Unfortunately, its link to the Grand Canyon State takes you to a California program. So I’m curious: Who in Arizona is participating in or coordinating this program here? (I’m being a little inventive myself and crowd-sourcing the answer!)

If it’s you—or if you know who it is—contact me. I’d like to hear more about patent pro bono in Arizona.

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.

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.”

A new pro bono program will offer lawyers the opportunity to brief and argue cases at the Arizona Court of Appeals.

A new pro bono program will offer lawyers the opportunity to brief and argue cases at the Arizona Court of Appeals.

A brand-new program launches this week at the Arizona Court of Appeals through which attorneys may be approved to brief and argue appellate cases on behalf of self-represented litigants. If you’ve had a hankering to stand and deliver at the CoA, this may be your opportunity.

As the court says, “Attorneys interested in arguing a case at the Court of Appeals are being recruited as volunteers for this pro bono program.” To be considered, the court requires you to contact one of the designated lawyer–coordinators, who will be developing lists of counsel for both Division One and Division Two of the Court of Appeals.

The administrative order creating the program is here.

Here are the attorney–coordinator contacts:

Division One Pro Bono Attorney Coordinator:

Kimberly A. Demarchi, Esq.

Lewis Roca Rothgerber LLP

201 East Washington Street, Suite 1200

Phoenix, AZ  85004

(602) 262-5728 or KDemarchi@LRRLaw.com

Division Two Pro Bono Attorney Coordinator:

Andrew M. Jacobs, Esq.

Snell & Wilmer LLP

One South Church Avenue, Suite 1500

Tucson, AZ  85701-1630

(520) 882-1207 or AJacobs@SWLaw.com

As the court has indicated, “Attorneys who want to volunteer for the program are encouraged to contact the coordinator nearest to them. The coordinators are not accepting requests from pro se litigants; they only will coordinate counsel for specific cases referred to them by the Court of Appeals.”

In the coming weeks, I aim to speak directly with some of those most involved in this novel program, including Division One Presiding Judge Diane Johnsen and Judge Sam Thumma, as well as the lawyer–coordinators, Kim Demarchi and Andrew Jacobs.

Until then, you can click here to read:

Arizona Court of Appeals logoAnd here is more information from the court:

“The Arizona Court of Appeals today launches a new program that seeks to improve access to justice for self-represented litigants while also creating opportunities for attorneys to brief and argue cases in the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals will identify specific civil cases in which one or more parties are self-represented and offer the litigant(s) in those cases an opportunity to be paired with a volunteer lawyer.

“The Court of Appeals expects to select cases for the new program that are complex, cases that involve a new issue of law, or cases that require specialized legal research. The Court will select cases that fit these criteria and refer them to one of two volunteer attorney coordinators. The coordinators will work to find a volunteer lawyer to serve as counsel for the unrepresented party.

“‘This program will directly benefit the litigant, but it will also benefit our court in that we will receive briefs and hear arguments that have been prepared by trained lawyers,’ Court of Appeals Division One Presiding Judge Diane Johnsen said. ‘It will also give young lawyers, or attorneys who rarely argue cases on appeal, a chance to have oral argument at the court.’

“‘It is important to distinguish this program from other pro bono programs. The assessment of which civil cases qualify for the program will be conducted exclusively by the court. The court will not be accepting motions for the appointment of counsel from civil pro se litigants, nor will the court be accepting motions for a particular case to be included in the program,’ Division Two Presiding Judge Peter Eckerstrom said. ‘We aren’t forcing the unrepresented party to work with a volunteer attorney. The person involved in the case has final say, but we think they will welcome the free legal help.’

“Judges Eckerstrom and Johnsen are hoping that attorneys will welcome the chance to offer their services for free because they will get to brief a case and participate in an oral argument at the Court of Appeals while providing representation to a pro se party.

“The program is modeled after a similar program at the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Presiding Judge Johnsen said that Judge Samuel Thumma developed the program for the state court of appeals.

“‘This program meshes nicely with the statewide goal of increasing access to justice for self-represented parties,’ Division One Judge Thumma said. ‘The crucial step now is to recruit attorneys who would be willing to help advance this program.’

“Arizona’s Court of Appeals is divided into two divisions. Division One is based in Phoenix and serves the counties of Apache, Coconino, La Paz, Navajo, Maricopa, Mohave, Yavapai and Yuma. Division Two hears appeals from Cochise, Gila, Greenlee, Graham, Pima, Pinal and Santa Cruz Counties. Both divisions will be participating in the program.”

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.

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