In an effort to keep you informed of all the wonderful pro bono legal services opportunities available for your participation, this is the second installment my new monthly series of newsletters highlighting some of the many volunteer options available at various legal aid organizations in Los Angeleas County.
In addition to the organizations highlighted below, we encourage you to volunteer at our very own BHBA Barristers Monthly Free Legal Clinic at La Cienega Park in Beverly Hills on Saturday, December 7th from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (and every first Saturday of the month thereafter)! If you are interested in volunteering or would like more information please feel free to contact co-chairs Brian Smith, Anton Labrentz or Wil Wenzel.
Bet Tzedek provides assistance to all eligible needy residents throughout Los Angeles County, 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 Angelenos last year alone. Barrister Rachel Balchum is our Liaison to Bet Tzedek and she can help you navigate your way through the various opportunities.
I would like to specifically highlight the following opportunities with Bet Tzedek:
Barrister co-hosted Training Session on Representing Clients in Probate Guardianship Matters:
On December 16th at 6:00 p.m., at the BHBA offices, the Barristers will co-host a CLE providing the training necessary to participate in Bet Tzedek's Probate Guardianship Kinship Care program. This training will cover the basic aspects of a guardianship case, including completing the court forms, filing the forms with the Los Angeles Superior, providing notice to relevant parties, and what to expect at the court hearing. The CLE is free and open to those attorneys who commit to take on a pro bono guardianship case through the Probate Guardianship Kinship Care program. Matters are heard in the Los Angeles Superior Court, are uncontested, and typically require between 25 and 35 hours to complete, over the course of approximately 2 to 3 months. For more information and to sign up for the program please contact Pamela Weston.
Individual Pro Bono Estate Planning Cases
The following are two clients that are in need of pro bono representation for estate planning matters. If you are interested in assisting in either matter, please contact Bet Tzedek’s Pro bono Director, Diego Cartagena.
1. Two developmentally disabled brothers currently live in a home left to them by their deceased parents. The home was originally left to the two brothers and their older brother. Older brother has since passed away. Although high functioning, the two surviving brothers are not capable of managing the estate and would like a family friend to be appointed as successor trustee. Deceased brother left debts and an account which may have trust assets co-mingled. Bet Tzedek would like Pro bono assistance to review the trust, have a family friend appointed as the new trustee, and set up an estate plan (possibly a Special Needs Trust) to maintain the developmentally delayed brothers in the home with all possible services and support.
2. Dorothy is a lovely, low-income, disabled elderly widower, aged 79, whose Certified Public Accountant drafted a will, revocable living trust, power of attorney for health care, and general power of attorney for her several years ago. She would like to have these documents reviewed by an attorney in order to make sure they are appropriate. In particular, Dorothy is a homeowner and wants to ensure her home passes to her 7 adult children with minimal taxes.
As many of you know, the Beverly Hills Bar Association was a founder of Public Counsel. Public Counsel is now the largest pro bono law firm in the nation. Public Counsel’s staff of 61 attorneys and 52 support staff – including five social workers – along with over 5,000 volunteer lawyers, law students and legal professionals assists over 30,000 children, youth, families, and community organizations every year. Public Counsel has endless opportunities available for you to get involved and help those who are in need. Former Barrister President, Jaison Benjamin is our Liaison to Public Counsel and she can help you navigate your way through the various opportunities.
I would like to specifically highlight the following opportunity with Public Counsel:
Foreclosure Prevention Clinic
Please join us at a Foreclosure Prevention Clinic presented by the California Consumer Justice Coalition (CCJC) on Tuesday, December 17th, 2013 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the downtown offices of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), located at 3655 S. Grand Avenue, Suite 250, Los Angeles, CA 90007, to help provide pro bono assistance to homeowners at risk of foreclosure. This event is a collaboration by the following nonprofit legal service organizations: Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Bet Tzedek, Los Angeles Legal Aid Foundation (LAFLA), and Public Counsel.
Pro bono volunteers will participate in a short training (don't worry, we will provide you all the information you will need) and then meet with homeowners to conduct an intake interview, provide legal advice and counsel as well as targeted referrals. Staff attorneys will be available at all times to provide assistance.
You don’t have to have expertise in this area of practice, and you don’t need to bring anything with you to the clinic –just your great legal mind and your enthusiasm for pro bono. Sign up here!
If you participate, please let Public Counsel know that you heard about this opportunity via the BHBA Barristers!
Los Angeles Lunch & Learn
Please join your colleagues in the Los Angeles legal community on December 4th or 5th for a lunchtime discussion about current pro bono opportunities that will assist prisoners on death row. If you've never thought about working on a death penalty matter—or if you've rejected the idea in the past as either too expensive or too time-consuming—our conversation will surprise and inspire you.
There are now many different opportunities for law firms to make significant pro bono contributions, including challenging prison conditions, administrative regulations, and methods of execution; drafting amicus briefs and clemency petitions; and systemic litigation that will improve due process protections for vulnerable groups. Hundreds of mentally ill and intellectually disabled prisoners without counsel are also looking for volunteer lawyers to become their champions. Our new pro bono model means that firms working in some states will have expert assistance that will significantly reduce out-of-pocket costs and travel.
On December 4th, join us at 12:00 p.m. at Morris Polich & Purdy, 1055 West Seventh Street, Suite 2400, Los Angeles, CA 90017.
On December 5th, join us at 12:00 p.m. at Greenburg Traurig, 1840 Century Park East, Suite 1900, Los Angeles, CA 90067.
I hope this post helps you make a difference!
All the best,
Beverly Hills Bar Association