Abogados a Su Lado Phone Bank 06-15-17 pro bono State Bar of Arizona lawyers and UnivisionAZ

A small but mighty band of Arizona lawyers offered free family law advice at a June 15 phone bank.

News from my colleague Alberto Rodriguez, Public Information and Community Outreach at the State Bar of Arizona:

The State Bar of Arizona and Univision Arizona hosted an Abogados a Su Lado (attorneys on your side) phone bank Thursday, June 15, 2017. This access-to-justice program was held to connect the Spanish-speaking community with volunteer attorneys who could help address their family law issues in their language.

sba_logo_color State Bar of ArizonaThe event, held from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., focused on family law. Here are the attorneys who volunteered their time and abilities:

  • Sylvina Cotto, Cotto Law Firm
  • Carlos Mendez, Slack-Mendez Law Firm
  • Daniel Rodriguez, Diaz Rodriguez & Associates
  • Javier Sobampo, Sobampo Law Firm

These volunteer attorneys answered 25 calls regarding family law issues during the two-hour phone bank.

Sample questions included:

  • How do I file for divorce? Do I need an attorney?
  • Does my spouse have to agree to a divorce? Can I file if my spouse is in Mexico?
  • I would like to give my mother guardianship of my children in case of emergency, how do I do that?
  • How do I petition for parenting time?

The State Bar thanks them for committing their time and experience to consumers through this access to justice program. It also thanks Univision Arizona for its continued partnership in providing this valuable program for the Spanish-speaking community.

Univision-Arizona logo cropped

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[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.”

State Bar of Arizona staffer Patricia Seguin, foreground, answers viewer questions regarding about consumer protection, Dec. 12, 2013.

State Bar of Arizona staffer Patricia Seguin, foreground, answers viewer questions regarding about consumer protection, Dec. 12, 2013.

For this Friday before the I-can’t-believe-it’s-already-Christmas-next-week, I had considered writing about last-minute lawyer gifts. You know, pens, software, the hottest new color in Post-It Notes, Helvetica perfume (“the scent of nothing”). But then I realized I should report on a holiday-season generosity offered by some State Bar of Arizona staff.

(And in case you were wondering, the hottest new color in Post-It Notes? Probably orchid.)

I routinely report out on the success of State Bar lawyer call-in shows, where attorneys offer their time and expertise to answer legal questions in specific topic areas.

But last Thursday, December 12, State Bar of Arizona staff took the load off holiday-and-work-stressed attorneys and manned the phones themselves. No legal advice was provided, of course, but volumes of legal information were shared with callers on consumer protection topics. The program is called A Su Lado, or At Your Service. (When lawyers volunteer, its name is Abogados a Su Lado.)

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_ColorThe four staff worked out of the studio of Univision Arizona KTVW 33. The phone bank team was Sulema Bucio, Ayde Gutierrez, Patricia Seguin and Alberto Rodriguez, who worked together to answer 104 calls, in Spanish, during the two-hour phone bank.

Congratulations and thanks to all, and special shout-out to my colleague Alberto Rodriguez, who spearheads these call-in program efforts.

Alberto kindly provided a sample of the questions that were received by the team:

  • Where and how do I report attorney misconduct?
  • Where and how do I report Notario fraud?
  • How can I confirm if the person I’m dealing with is an attorney?
  • I’ve given my attorney several payments but haven’t seen any progress on my case. What can I do?
  • The law firm I hired won’t handle my case anymore—they say the lawyer handling my case no longer works there. What can I do?
  • Can I get my money back and hire a different attorney?
  • Where can I get free or low cost legal advice?

Well done, all!

Good-news follow-up from the State Bar of Arizona:

Last Thursday, December 1, the State Bar and Univision 33 launched the Spanish-language version of Lawyers on Call, Abogados a su Lado. This partnership has been a long time in the making. It is the first step in helping to close the gap in the need for consumer legal services in the Spanish monolingual community in Phoenix and Tucson. The following is a recap from last night’s Abogados a su Lado public service program.

Date: December 1, 2011

Topic: Divorce and Child Support Issues

Volunteers: Five Attorneys:

Summary:

Volunteer attorneys fielded an impressive 112 calls during the two-hour phone bank focused on divorce and child support issues. Most frequently asked questions were:

  • How can I request/enforce/modify child support?
  • What is the divorce process? Where do I begin?
  • Do I need to hire an attorney for my divorce?
  • How can I request/enforce/modify spousal maintenance?
  • How do I request/enforce/modify custody rights?
  • Can I seek back-pay for unpaid child support?
  • How can I file for divorce if my spouse lives in another state/country?
  • How can I seek child support if my spouse lives in another state/country?

Volunteers were satisfied with the quality of the questions overall and were excited to have participated in the first ever, Abogados a su Lado public service program. Calls were consistent from 5 to 7 p.m., which led to a successful phone bank.