Moving in the Right Direction | by Yan Goldshteyn, Barristers President

Yan GoldshteynI am excited and privileged to serve as your incoming Beverly Hills Bar Association (BHBA) Barristers President. The BHBA has been on the forefront of Bar Associations responding to the under-represented members of the community, protecting individual liberties and promoting legal education.

Our Barristers Board has been a flagship, representing the only Barristers in Southern California selected by the American Bar Association in 2015 as the premier Bar Association Barristers out of their 330 affiliates.

I am proud to continue our Board’s well-known community service outreach, not only in Beverly Hills but with recognition throughout the world.

By way of introduction, I began my involvement with the Barristers as a volunteer on our long-standing Vintage Bouquet Committee, helping to raise funds for our Foundation to be able to support the many Barrister activities we endeavor. From there I became interested in our Roxbury Park Legal Clinic, serving members of our community who would otherwise not be able to address their legal needs. As a committee that was primarily formed to serve elderly members of the public, I watched it develop into a clinic covering all areas of legal issues faced in everyday lives. We will continue to expand this service as we add more lawyer volunteers in the areas most requested by the members of the public who turn to us in times of need.

When I became a Board Member, I was involved in the decision making to help support Samoshel, a Homeless Shelter in Santa Monica. Samoshel provides interim housing and a broad range of resources to the shelter residents, such as domestic violence, mental health and clinical treatment. Our Barrister team volunteers monthly to prepare hot, freshly cooked meals for sixty of our community’s homeless.

During my term as Treasurer, becoming liaison to the Foundation and reporting from the Budget and Finance meetings to the Barrister Board allowed me to see how our Barrister volunteers directly aid in promoting funding of our community involvement by presenting MCLE Programs. These MCLEs, with their outstanding speakers, have become more and more creative in addressing timely and relevant topics, which young attorneys need to further their careers.

My term as President-Elect introduced me to Teen Court’s life changing influences to non-violent first offenders by giving second chances to young adults with sentencing designed to offer counseling, structure, and guidance where there was previously none. This diversionary program benefits everyone in society, not only by lessening case-loads and allowing minors to clear their records while still being held accountable, but also by educating students involved about the court system.

Starting originally with Santa Monica High School, this program has expanded with the Barristers now involved at Anahuacalmecac Preparatory School in East Los Angeles/South Pasadena. This is a Native American charter school with the Teen Court overseen by two Native American LASC judges. This year, we will be seeking to add more local high schools to our Teen Court Program.

All of this will only be possible through the continued self-sacrificing efforts of our volunteer Board. It is my intention this year to build on the camaraderie we now enjoy, so that these programs are able to flourish and grow. I will use my term as President to continue to make the Barristers and my Board of Governors promote collegiality, fun, and professionalism. I look forward to taking the helm to lead in the great work of our Board, and to nurture the interests of our fellow Barrister members. Together, as Barristers, we will advance new and innovative projects, with continual growth and success.


Yan Goldshteyn, Principal attorney at Maven Law Firm, with a concentration on immigration and business law practice areas, may be reached at 310 363 0240 or via email at Yan@mavenlawfirm.com.

Join the BHBA Barristers in Supporting US Troops!

Drop off items from the Troops Wish List below to the Beverly Hills Bar Association at 9420 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212 to help ensure a brighter holiday season for our troops while they’re far away from home.

Troops Wish List

Teen Court | by William S. Wenzel, Barristers President

William S. WenzelI’m encouraged by the strong response we’re getting from all of you regarding our Teen Court program. I share your enthusiasm. If you’re still not on board or want more evidence of the power of this program, let me relate my recent experience:

Three Barristers representatives were proctors at the inaugural Teen Court at Anahuacalmecac High School in South Pasadena/East Los Angeles. Anahuacalmecac (pronounced “anna-WALK-a-may-a”) is a Native American charter school; its teachers and students are primarily Native American.

Teen Court at Anahuacalmecac is overseen by two Native American judges: Judge Sanchez and Judge Lopez. Incidentally, both judges are Beverly Hills Bar Foundation Scholarship recipients – the BHBA’s good works resonating through our community!

Before the Court stood a 17-year-old from an affluent school. She was an honor student with a 4.1 GPA and intensely involved in extra-curricular activities.

We learned she had an internship with a congresswoman lined up after graduation. To all outside appearances this young woman was entirely on the right track. But her charging documents indicated she had caused a car accident (with no injuries to the other driver) and she was accused of driving under the influence of prescription medication. Now she and her parents stood before the student jurors.

The questioning was intense. The students asked about the accused’s family life. They grilled her about the pressures she faced at school. They did not stop with initial questions – they dug deep and asked follow-up after follow-up. It was revealed that, though the parents didn’t believe they applied pressure to succeed, the accused felt a strong internal pressure to please everyone. Between school, extra-curricular activities, and her world’s expectations, she felt she just couldn’t keep up. The night of the accident, it emerged that she got into an argument with her parents and – fed up – took two full bottles of her own prescription medication, intending to kill herself. She got into her car to drive to a friend’s house, passed out, and ran into another car.

The heart-wrenching facts couldn’t have hit closer to home for the jurors. They’ve also faced home and school anxieties, intense pressures to succeed: to get good grades but also to have laundry lists of extra-curriculars. And they saw a person their own age driven to the breaking point. It was clear they were absorbing the lessons, and remember: it was up to them to determine what should be done.

While the jurors deliberated, the two judges discussed the case with the student audience. They talked at length about the consequences for the accused had she not been diverted into Teen Court. A DUI at 17 would mean her dreams of a successful career would be put on hold if not entirely shattered. All her hard work might have evaporated over a single decision.

The jury returned a guilty verdict. But for this young woman, her sentencing was tailored to rehabilitation and growth. She received counseling and community service. She will get the help she needs to deal with the pressures she faces. And if she successfully completes her probation, her record will be clear.

It’s a concrete example of the second chances that Teen Court provides. If you’re ready to lend a hand, please contact Aimy Zodieru at aimyzodieru@gmail.com or 310 975 9694. We want your help.


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.

 

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.

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

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

Kudos To Our Incredible Barristers | By Doron Eghbali, Barristers President

Doron EghbaliThis article is dedicated to the noble work of our invaluable Barristers’ Board of Governors (“BOG”). The profound work of the BOG positively affects lawyers, law students and laymen alike. To demonstrate the lofty work of our Barristers’ BOG, let us review only about one week of the BOG’s accomplishments.

March 7 – The monthly Roxbury Park Free Legal Clinic helps the public with general legal services. It is Co-Chaired by our superb President-Elect William Wenzel and Danielle Grabois.

March 7 & 8 – Brunch for Eight is a BHBA Barristers’ program in which eight law-school students are invited to the BHBA to help them ascertain the salience of involvement in a local Bar Association and the noble work BHBA performs for “young and newer” attorneys. Two such brunches were held in March with students attending from Loyola Law School on the 7th and UCLA on the 8th. This year’s Chairperson is our able Ariadne Giannis. On both days, dignitaries from the BHBA and the Bench joined Ariadne and the students.

March 10 – Our superb Co-Chairs of the Committee for the Arts, Dira Imam and Anastasia Alen held an art and music event at the legendary House of Blues. This program was held in their architecturally beautiful Foundation Room and consisted of high quality music and ethereal artifacts put together by the homeless.

March 13 & 14 – The Barristers superbly led by Yan Goldshteyn, Lauren Gabbaian and Liana Yoon proudly represented BHBA at the UCLA Entertainment Symposium.

March 14 – Our chef extraordinaire, LeRoy Williams, chaired Samoshel at the Santa Monica Shelter. LeRoy, along with Jeanine Percival Wright (Barristers’ Past President), Jeremiah Livesay and other selfless volunteers served around 60 homeless people with a St. Patrick’s themed menu.

March 15 – Danielle Grabois, our diligent Chair of the Bench Bar Bike Ride, facilitated a fun and non-strenuous bike ride along Hermosa and Manhattan Beach.

In addition, the Barristers put on an MCLE program about how to start a law firm and another “Power Lunch” program with an entertainment “Power Lawyer,” ably Co-Chaired by Brian Schaller and Yan Goldshteyn.

Barristers have been preparing for the annual “Vintage Bouquet,” set for April 26, 2015. It is being Co-Chaired this year by our very own Dira Imam and Danielle Grabois.

Our invaluable Megan Peitzke is preparing an MCLE program with 11 judges of the West District for May 2015 on “Do’s and Don’ts” of court conduct.

Furthermore Leigh Leshner, Nick Francescon and John Grimball are planning an all-day seminar on the nuts and bolts of entertainment law for June 2015.

Thank you so much BOG for your lofty work.


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.