Welcome to the New Year! | by William S. Wenzel, Barristers President

William S. WenzelI wish each of you and those you love a happy and prosperous 2016.

With two months between each of my articles, there is never enough room to tell you about all of the accomplishments of the Barristers – I can’t keep pace with our tremendous team. So I dedicate this article to our ongoing project: Teen Court.

In a previous blog post you can read about what Teen Court is, so I don’t need to explain it again here. Rather, I think you may find it useful to know about what Teen Court means and represents to me:

In law school, I served for a summer with the Alternate Public Defender’s office in El Cajon, outside of San Diego. For those outside the criminal field, the APD handles cases where an inter-defendant conflict prohibits the Public Defender’s office from representing both defendants. My assignment was a capital murder case. Our client waited behind the wheel while his buddy ran inside a gas station to steal some beer; the buddy decided to shoot three people, two died. Our client was 19 at the time and faced death under accomplice liability for felony murder.

At 21 years old, our client was found guilty and it was my job to make sure he spent his life in prison, rather than having it ended by the State. Drudging up mitigating evidence, it became rapidly clear that our client had lived a life in the System. He had been neglected by family and school. Cast aside by society, he spent his developmental life in institutions. From his first juvenile arrest and conviction, he lived as an outcast – it shaped his existence. He currently serves life in prison and will never see the outside; his face and story never left me.

Teen Court gives us a chance to prevent this. Here, young accused have a unique opportunity: stand before your peers, submit and comply with their sentencing, and you won’t be “in the System.” Sentences are designed to offer counseling, structure, and guidance where there was none. And a clear record is the carrot for successful completion. Could my former client’s life have been different if he had counseling opportu- nities and his first offense wiped from his record?

There’s more: Across from the accused sit twelve young people. Through Teen Court they have learned their role in our judicial system (and its place in our larger civics system). They’ve learned about strong, smart questioning, how to ask follow-up questions, and how to critically analyze answers – skills many older people lack. Through participation, they prepare themselves to be responsible members of our society.

Finally, our Barrister proctor volunteers get a chance to be role models. A chance to credibly say, “If you want, you can be a lawyer, or a judge.” Plus, they get consistent, long-term exposure to members of the judiciary. They help their judge conduct the proceedings. Perhaps, after building a relationship, they might request that the judge write a crucial reference – after all, they’ve demonstrated skills that make good lawyers and good people.

As you read this, we’ve already begun to provide key support to the LA Teen Court program. To find out how you can be a proctor, or help in any way, please contact me directly.


William S. Wenzel is a business and corporate attorney at The Law Offices of William S. Wenzel, APC. His office serves as outside general counsel for hire and can be contacted at 213 207 6885 or wsw@wswlegal.com.

BHBA Barristers team up with LA County Teen Court Program
Volunteers are needed to support youth and change lives

Around the state, jails are overcrowded, courts have been shut down, and kids are getting lost in the shuffle. Nearly ninety thousand (86,823) juveniles were arrested in 2014 in California alone. Just shy of 80 percent of those arrests were for misdemeanors or status offenses (crimes only applicable to juveniles, such as truancy and curfew violations). As just one of hundreds being pushed through the courts daily, each child is not given the individual attention or support he or she needs.

That’s where Teen Court comes in. By casting trained, volunteer teenagers in the roles of attorneys and jurors, the program allows first-time juvenile defendants accused of misdemeanors to be represented and judged by the people who understand them best. Jurors ask a wide range of questions of the defendant as well as his/her parents, allowing them to get a complete picture of the person. The sentences exclude confinement or fines and are directed to rehabilitate rather than to punish. They range from a letter of apology to community service to counseling. If the sentence is carried out within six months, the defendants avoid a stain on their record.

This is great for everyone. People with convictions have a harder time getting admission to college and securing jobs and housing. Not only does Teen Court prevent those first-offense convictions from appearing on a student’s record, but studies have shown that Teen Court-style programs can help keep them out of trouble in the future.

While beneficial, Teen Court often lacks support from schools that can’t provide staff or classrooms; some schools are short on volunteers to guide the process. This is why the Beverly Hills Bar Association’s Barristers have made it their mission this year to partner with Teen Courts around LA County. With plans to donate volunteers and resources, the Barristers’ partnership with Teen Court will help many dozens of students change their lives for the better.

We need your help! Volunteers make sure all court sessions proceed as intended. Volunteers can be attorneys, judicial officers, or even law students. All volunteers must attend a training session, which will take place on January 28, 2016. Currently we have planned to work most closely with the program at Santa Monica High School, and we are adding more schools all the time. Program schedules will be added to the calendar.

If you would like more information or to volunteer, please call the BHBA at (310) 601-BHBA (2422) or email Barristers President Wil Wenzel at wsw@wswlegal.com.

The Task: New Leaders | by William S. Wenzel, Barristers President

William S. WenzelIt is an honor to assume the helm of the Barristers Board. In a nimble, active, and activist organization, the Barristers are a flagship. We represent several hundred young lawyers – hungry to develop our careers and make impressions. Together, we are a force we cannot be alone.

An introduction: I’m from Denver. The Coloradan in me looks to nature and outdoor activities to offset the pace LA requires. For seven years, my home was Roger’s Park, Chicago where I studied directing in the theatre. Chicago and Chicago theatre require risk-taking and gritty living. There’s little room for nonsense: it’s just too cold much of the time.

I lived in Tokyo, Japan where I knew tight spaces and the feeling of being a minority. And in Sydney, Australia, where summer was winter, and which became my home-base for a walkabout of the entire coast of that continent.

Then, for three years I lived in San Diego. I’m proud to count myself as the second consecutive Barristers’ President alumnus of California Western School of Law. It’s a testament to a school that produces lawyers ready to take the lead in serving others. But San Diego was not a place to start a career – that was for Los Angeles. I opened my office in 2011 in business and corporate law and moved along successfully ever since; every day a new adventure. So I’ve got a diverse background, I’m traveled, I’m a small business owner, and I’m more than ready to start work for the Barristers.

Inside the Bar Association, my job is to foster leaders. If new leaders step up where they haven’t before, then I will be a success.

Our board members are leaders: they’ve taken off the blinders of the day-to-day job tasks and asked our organization how they can help; they’ve put in time chairing committees; they’ve looked at resources and evaluated the most efficient method of accomplishing a project; they’ve summarized that work in presentations to the Board. They show they have what it takes to lead in this association and in this profession. I will work hard to inspire, to empower, and to direct. So when – together – we hit and exceed our goals, we will know that the BHBA is well served.

Outside the Bar, the Barristers focus our resources on a major BHBA community service project. When you read this, we will have voted between five “community service theme” options developed collectively over the last seven months: veteran assistance, community-police relationship building, domestic violence prevention, human trafficking prevention, or teen court facilitation. No matter what we decide, we can’t go wrong because our aim is to help.

Our community needs help now more than ever. We’re going to meet that challenge together.


William S. Wenzel is a business and corporate attorney at The Law Offices of William S. Wenzel, APC. His office serves as outside general counsel for hire and can be contacted at (213) 207-6885 or wsw@wswlegal.com.

 

Celebrate Pro Bono Week: Volunteer for the Lawyers in the Library Clinic

The Barristers are proud to announce their second year in a row of official sponsorship of the L.A. Law Library’s Lawyers in the Library event to be held in conjunction with the Library’s annual Pro Bono Week.
Lawyers in the Library offers complimentary 20 – 30 minute consultations to members of the public who are in need of legal advice, and is held at the L.A. Law Library on a monthly basis. The special Pro Bono Week edition of the clinic will run from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 24, 2015.
The BHBA has pledged to serve the 100+ members of the public attending the clinic, so we need YOU to volunteer for this fantastic opportunity to give back!
Each volunteer only needs to commit to a one-hour time slot on Saturday, October 24th between 12:00 and 4:00 p.m. (though you are able to volunteer for the entire four-hour clinic, or any portion thereof, if you so desire).
For more information about the clinic and to sign-up, please visit www.bhba.org/lawyersinthelibrary

Pro Bono Committee Co-Chairs and Program Chair: Elizabeth Hall Peterson, Jack McMorrow and Autumn Rhonda.
Volunteers don’t necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.
– Author Unknown

(SaMo)Shel’ing Out a Lot of Love

On the second Saturday of every month, the Barristers visit the Santa Monica Shelter (map), where we cook together in an industrial kitchen to bring a delicious meal to as many as 60 residents.  Check out the pictures of past visits below, and join us on Saturday, September 12 (tomorrow) at 3 p.m., when we get a Back to School-themed menu:

GRADE SCHOOL GRILLED CHEESE SAMMIES
ROASTED CHICKIE FINGERS w/ BBQ DIP
FRESH ROMA TOMATO SOUP
CLASSIC FRUIT CUP
(KINDER)GARDEN SALAD
YUMMY CHOCO CHIP COOKIES

Thank You for a Beautiful and Blessed Year | by Doron Eghbali, Barristers President

Doron EghbaliThis is my last piece in Bar Brief as the President of the BHBA Barristers. Accordingly, it is important to reflect on the successful and jovial year we have had as Barristers and express our deepest gratitude to our beloved Barristers BOG members for their profound dedication and sacrifice.

Even though it is rather impossible to bestow individual accolades on more than 20 committees and many MCLEs we spearheaded, here is a summary of our notable activities this past year.

Roxbury Park – Every first Saturday of the month William S. Wenzel, our wonderful President-Elect, along with ebullient Danielle Grabois, Co-Chaired this event to provide free legal services.

Samoshel – Every second Saturday of the month, our chef extraordinaire, LeRoy Williams, joined by amiable past President of Barristers, Jeanine Percival Wright, and superb Jeremiah Livesay prepared eclectic food and served around 60 homeless people at the Santa Monica Shelter.

Vintage Bouquet – Like previous years, our indomitable Co-Chairs, Dira Imam and Danielle Grabois, spearheaded another electrifying Vintage Bouquet along with our invaluable Elizabeth Peterson, Jeremiah Livesay, Eseigbe Omofoma, Lauren Gabbaian and Yan Goldshteyn. Special thanks to Leigh Leshner, John Grimball and Nicholas Francescon for their efforts during past years.

Pro Bono Committee – On a Saturday, during Law Week at L.A. Law Library, Autumn Ronda along with Elizabeth Peterson, Rachel Balchum, and Dira Imam, provided free legal advice to more than 100 people. In addition, with the diligence of Jack McMorrow and other members of this great Committee, we succeeded in continuing to inform the public of noble pro bono activities in our neighborhoods through our meticulously prepared Pro Bono Newsletters.

Power Lunch – Nearly every month Yan Goldshteyn and Brian Schaller planned a “Power Lawyer” lunch with legal titans for an intimate roundtable discussion.

Committee for the Arts – Anastasia Alen and Dira Imam brought to fruition an ethereal evening of memorable art, music and food at the former House of Blues.

Tolerance Through Education – Liana Yoon and Eseigbe Omofoma taught elementary school children the meaning of love, respect and tolerance through educational activities.

Meet the Judges – Megan Peitzke deftly assembled eight judges and two commissionaires for a private and rare evening at the Santa Monica Courthouse.

Brunch for Eight – Ariadne Giannis executed four separate Brunch for Eight programs with UCLA, USC, Loyola and Whittier law schools.

Mentorship Committee – Our tireless Zev Shechtman, Autumn Ronda and Diana Ovsepian sought to continue matching qualified mentors with receptive mentees.

Social Media Committee – Special thanks to Lauren Gabbaian for her expertise in supervising our Social Media.

Happy Hour – David Paletz, our convivial Chair, ensured every Thursday of the month that we all had a classy place to go to for professional networking.

Join me in my heartfelt thanks of our beloved and blessed BOG.


 

Doron F. Eghbali is a Senior Partner at Law Advocate Group, LLP. He practices Business, Real Estate and Entertainment law. Contact him at DoronEghbali@LawAdvocateGroup.com, or 310 651 3065.

Celebrate Pro Bono Week: Volunteer for the Lawyers in the Library Clinic

The Barristers are proud to announce their second year in a row of official sponsorship of the L.A. Law Library’s Lawyers in the Library event to be held in conjunction with the Library’s annual Pro Bono Week.
Lawyers in the Library offers complimentary 20 – 30 minute consultations to members of the public who are in need of legal advice, and is held at the L.A. Law Library on a monthly basis. The special Pro Bono Week edition of the clinic will run from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 24, 2015.
The BHBA has pledged to serve the 100+ members of the public attending the clinic, so we need YOU to volunteer for this fantastic opportunity to give back!
Each volunteer only needs to commit to a one-hour time slot on Saturday, October 24th between 12:00 and 4:00 p.m. (though you are able to volunteer for the entire four-hour clinic, or any portion thereof, if you so desire).
For more information about the clinic and to sign-up, please visit www.bhba.org/lawyersinthelibrary

Pro Bono Committee Co-Chairs and Program Chair: Elizabeth Hall Peterson, Jack McMorrow and Autumn Rhonda.
Volunteers don’t necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.
– Author Unknown

School Supply Drive

As part of a new annual tradition, the BHBA Barristers are supporting a school supply drive for foster youth through the Children’s Law Center of California.  With school starting this week and next all over Los Angeles, we ask that you donate whatever new, unused school supplies you can.  Bins will be located at the BHBA office at 9420 Wilshire Blvd., 2nd Floor, Beverly Hills, CA 90212 (and we will deliver them to the CLC).  For more information, click here or see below:

Children's Law Center Backpack Drive

Love, Bonhomie and Professionalism | By Doron Eghbali, Barristers President

Doron EghbaliThe salient characteristics of the Beverly Hills Bar Association (BHBA) Barristers Board of Governors (BOG) are the bonhomie, love and professionalism it permeates and promotes among its members. These indispensable characteristics suffuse the 20 committees and projects the BHBA BOG have embarked upon.

Vintage Bouquet

Given these noble attributes, the BHBA Barristers’ BOG continued the glamorous Annual Vintage Bouquet event this year on April 26, 2015 with exquisite food and wine. Special thanks to our fastidious Co-Chair’s Dira Imam and Danielle Grabois whose dedication, along with the invaluable devotion of our Barristers’ BOG members Eseigbe A Omofoma, Lauren Gabbaian, Elizabeth Hall Peterson and Jeremiah Livesay, made this event possible. Also it is incumbent upon us to thank our previous Chair of Vintage Bouquet, Leigh Leshner and BOG members Nick Francescon and John Grimball for the past years’ successes.

Meet the Judges

Furthermore, thanks to our indispensable Megan Peitzke and the BHBA Barristers “Meet the Judges of the West District” was held on May 14, 2015 at the Santa Monica Courthouse. Eight judges and two commissioners graciously shared with participants the insight into many aspects of trial practice from ethics to civil discovery to trial work. It was a rare and informal meeting that participants undoubtedly relished.

Brunch for Eight

Again, we had the pleasure of hosting a select group of law students from Whittier Law School on April 12, 2015 at the BHBA, which was our fourth Brunch for Eight event in a month. Our wonderful Ariadne Giannis, the Chair of the Section, successfully arranged it.

Roxbury Park and Samoshel

On the first Saturday of the month in April and May, our efficient President-Elect William Wenzel and invaluable Co-Chair Danielle Grabois provided the public with free legal advice in a loving and welcoming ambience, along with other volunteers.

The second Saturday in April and May, our very own chef extraordinaire Leroy Williams, Jeremiah Livesay and other great volunteers, prepared delicious and eclectic food and served nearly 60 homeless people at the Santa Monica Shelter.

MCLE and Power Lunch

Our dedicated Barristers executed at least six ‘nuts and bolts’ type of MCLEs in the past two months on legal topics as diverse as Immigration, Real Estate, Labor and Employment, Law Practice Management, and Entertainment.

Thanks to Yan Goldshteyn, President-Elect for 2016-2017, and formidable Co-Chair, Brian Schaller, “Power” attorneys in entertainment law continued to share the keys to their success with the participants.

Happy Hour

Like previous months, David Paletz put on another Happy Hour with panache and class. Our Happy Hours are usually the third Thursday of the month at the Hotel Sixty in Beverly Hills.

You are welcome to become a part of us. We will embrace you with love and make you feel welcome.


Doron F. Eghbali is a Senior Partner at Law Advocate Group, LLP. He practices Business, Real Estate and Entertainment law. Contact him at 310 651 3065 or DoronEghbali@LawAdvocateGroup.com.

June 2015 Pro Bono Newsletter

Dear Barristers,

Greetings from your Pro Bono Committee!  This is your June 2015 Pro Bono Newsletter.  We hope that you will take the opportunity to review the following important charitable opportunities, and even better, participate in one or more of them.

BHBA BARRISTERS–BARRISTERS MONTHLY FREE LEGAL CLINIC

Volunteer at our very own BHBA Monthly Free Legal Clinic at Roxbury Park in Beverly Hills, where volunteer attorneys answer legal questions presented by the public!  Join us Saturday, July 11th, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.  If you are interested in volunteering, or want more information, please feel free to contact co-chairs Will Wenzel or Danielle E. Grabois.

LA LAW LIBRARY / SOCAL PRO BONO MANAGERS

SoCal Pro Bono Managers and the LA Law Library presents “How Pro Bono Cases Can Build Strong Legal Skills”. This event will be held on June 10, 2015 from 12:15 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. at the Los Angeles Law Library at 301 W. 1st Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012.  Registration is free. To reserve your spot, please contact Pamela Marx.

LEGAL AID FOUNDATION OF LOS ANGELES

For 80 years, the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) has been providing civil legal services to low-income residents of Los Angeles County.  LAFLA would love for you to participate in one or more of their upcoming pro bono projects to help domestic violence victims, as well as members of the Asian and Pacific Islander communities.  For more information, or to volunteer for one of the listed opportunities, please contact LAFLA’s Pro Bono Director, Phong Wong.

Asian and Pacific Islander (API) Community Outreach Unit

LAFLA is looking for attorneys to conduct client interviews, provide counsel and advice, draft court pleadings, conduct legal research and writing, attend hearings and trials, as well as develop, conduct, and coordinate educational materials and outreach. Bilingual attorneys, especially those who speak Asian languages are highly encouraged to apply. The Unit operates out of the West Office located at 1102 Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90019, and is open Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Santa Monica Domestic Violence Clinic

LAFLA needs attorneys and law students to volunteer at their Domestic Violence Clinic in the Santa Monica courthouse, which is held every weekend morning. Volunteers at the DV clinic conduct client interviews, provide counsel and advice under supervision, draft domestic violence restraining order applications and provide guidance and support to people trying to survive and endure one of the most difficult times in their lives.

BET TZEDEK LEGAL SERVICES

Bet Tzedek provides aid to all eligible residents throughout Los Angeles County who are in need of legal assistance, regardless of racial, religious, or ethnic background.  Bet Tzedek’s pioneering projects combine direct legal representation with outreach, education, and legislative advocacy, resulting in equal access to justice for over 15,000 low-income Angelinos last year alone.  For more information, or to volunteer for one of the listed opportunities, please contact Bet Tzedek’s Pro Bono Director, Diego Cartagena.

Pro Bono Placement — Real Property and Probate

Bet Tzedek is seeking an attorney to serve as pro bono counsel to help a client gain title to property conveyed to him in 1985.  The matter may involve a probate proceeding.  You can find information on the matter by clicking HERE.

Pro Bono Placement — Estate Planning

Bet Tzedek is seeking an attorney with some estate planning experience to draft an estate plan for a 69-year-old woman who is an Israeli immigrant.  You can find information on the matter by clicking HERE.

Pro Bono Placement — Estate Planning

Bet Tzedek is seeking an attorney with some estate planning experience to draft a will and healthcare directive for a 68-year-old woman with limited assets.  You can find information on the matter by clicking HERE.

PUBLIC COUNSEL

As many of you know, the BHBA was a founder of Public Counsel, which is the largest pro bono law firm in the nation, and helps more than 30,000 people every year through the power of law.  Public Counsel’s activities are far-ranging, and impact a wide array of people who live at or below the poverty line.  Volunteer lawyers, law students, and legal professionals have the opportunity to work on a variety of different projects.  For more information on Public Counsel, please contact their Pro Bono Director David Daniels at (213) 385-2977 x101

Pro Bono Placement — Limited Scope / Research Opportunity

For years, Public Counsel has been seeking pro bono attorneys to help victims of the Zepeda brothers.  Now incarcerated, the Zepedas stole title to hundreds of homes.  The District Attorney entered a stipulation and order, by which each of the fraudulent deeds is voided.  Public Counsel seeks pro bono assistance to draft a self-help packet that we can distribute to the homeowners whose title is still in David Zepeda’s name.  If you would like, you may also use your research to do a “trial run” with one or two of our current clients who have this problem.  Contact Adelaide Anderson for more information.

Pro Bono Placement — Gym Forces Out Members Who Are Paying Lower Rates

Both Client and his father are longtime members of a national-name gym.  They paid approximately $100 a year for membership at the gym, which is located in an up-and-coming neighborhood.  A few years ago, Gym told Client’s father that he no longer was welcome at the facility, and it terminated his membership.  Now the same thing has happened to Client.  Both times, Gym gave reasons for terminating the membership that appear to be false.  Both times, Gym then said the person could rejoin, but only at a much higher rate. Contact Adelaide Anderson for more information.

Pro Bono Placement — Small Business Owner’s Contractor Will Not Uphold Warranty

Client is a small business owner.  Since Client has rented the storefront from landlord, Client has had trouble with a leaky roof.  Client’s landlord claims he is not responsible for fixing it.  Frustrated with water-damaged goods, Client hired a contractor who provided a one year guarantee for the roof repair.  After making the repair, the roof starting leaking again.  Contractor will not respond to Client’s calls to uphold the warranty.  Contact Natalie Klasky for more information.

 

We hope you find this newsletter valuable, and look forward to the Barristers taking active roles in these incredible opportunities!

Very truly yours,

Elizabeth Hall, Pro bono Committee Co-Chair,

Jack J. McMorrow, Pro bono Committee Member, and

Autumn Ronda, Pro bono Committee Co-Chair and Immediate Past Barristers President