July 2014 Barristers Pro Bono Newsletter

Dear Barristers,

The mission if the Barristers Pro Bono Committee and this Newsletter is to match members of our community who are in need of free legal services, with the abundance of young lawyers who are in need of practical legal experience.  Read more about this ideal match in a recent Bar Brief article entitled, Match Made in Bar Heaven.

To facilitate said pairing, we encourage you to volunteer for pro bono work by taking advantage of one or more of the many opportunities listed below!

BHBA BARRISTERS

Barristers Monthly Free Legal Clinic

Volunteer the first Saturday of each month (note: July clinic held on second Saturday due to holiday) 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 12, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.  If you are interested in volunteering, or want more information please feel free to contact co-chairs Brian Smith, or Wil Wenzel.

PUBLIC COUNSEL

As many of you know, the BHBA was a founder of Public Counsel, which is the nation’s 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 level. 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.

Children’s Rights Project – Force for Foster Youth Team

Public Counsel’s Children’s Rights Project (CRP) is building a new team of 25 to 30 attorneys to help non-minor dependent youth resolve outstanding tickets and warrants in the courts. Volunteer attorneys should expect to take on up to four cases per year. Each individual case should no more than 7 to 10 hours to resolve – many of these tickets are dismissed by the courts outright in the interest of justice once the jurist learns of the foster youth status of the client. Want to join the team? Please contact CRP’s Senior Staff Attorney Ruth Cusick.

Bankruptcy Self-Help Desk and Clinic

Public Counsel seeks volunteer attorneys who wish to help individuals through the bankruptcy process, either by counseling individuals one-on-one at the self-help desk, or by presenting to a group in a workshop-style clinic. Volunteers will gain valuable client-counseling skills and increase the breadth of their bankruptcy knowledge due to the plethora of bankruptcy and bankruptcy-related issues that arise at the Bankruptcy Self-help Desk and Clinic. The Self-help Desk, located at the Federal Building, is open to the public on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Clinics are held every other Tuesday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Public Counsel office.  Please contact Maggie Bordeaux for more information.

Bankruptcy Reaffirmation Hearings

Public Counsel is also seeking attorneys who want to gain valuable client-counseling skills by advising debtors regarding the consequences of reaffirming a particular debt prior to their reaffirmation hearing. Reaffirmation Hearings take place at the Los Angeles Bankruptcy Court and the Woodland Hills Bankruptcy Court.  Please contact Maggie Bordeaux for more information.

BET TZEDEK LEGAL SERVICES

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.  For more information, or to volunteer for one of the listed opportunities, please contact Bet Tzedek's Pro Bono Director, Diego Cartagena.

Real Estate Fraud/Financial Elder Abuse

Bet Tzedek is seeking an attorney with real estate experience who has litigated in probate court to serve as pro bono counsel in a real estate fraud and financial elder abuse matter. The case involves helping an elder veteran with Alzheimer’s disease remove a fraudulent deed of trust from his home, and obtain damages for elder abuse. You can view a memo on the issues by clicking here.

Estate Planning Matter

Bet Tzedek is seeking an attorney with estate planning experience to serve as pro bono counsel to help an elderly client with his estate planning needs. You can view a memo on the issue by clicking here.

Small Claims Spanish Clinic

Bet Tzedek is seeking the assistance of Spanish-speaking attorneys to volunteer at the Spanish-language session of its Small Claims Clinic. The clinic is held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month at Southwestern Law School. The next clinics are scheduled for July 10 and August 14.  Click here to find information regarding the clinic!

CHRISTIANCHRISTIAN LEGAL AID OF LOS ANGELES

Christian Legal Aid of Los Angeles (CLA-LA) believes that pursuing "justice for all" is the best way to offer a hand-up to the most vulnerable in society. CLA-LA is a non-profit corporation, which assists clients regardless of their religion, race, color, creed, national original, ancestry, disability, gender, sexual orientation, or age. CLA-LA offers free legal services to the poor throughout Los Angeles County and provides volunteers with training, fellowship, and FREE MCLE opportunities. For more information on CLA-LA and their offerings, please contact their Legal Fellow, Sarah McKendricks.

FREE MLCE Immigration Trainings at LA Law Library

Join CLA-LA for a full day of FREE MCLE training and lunch on Immigration at the LA Law Library on July 11, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Various attorneys and CLA volunteers will be teaching on a variety of immigration-related topics. Up to 2.5 MCLE credits available. Email info@cla-la.org to sign up.

Legal URGENT Care Clinic

CLA-LA is seeking the assistance of attorneys, law students and paralegals to volunteer at their upcoming Legal URGENT Care Clinics. Upcoming clinics will be held from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on July 19 at the DREAM Center in Echo Park, on July 26 at the World Impact School in South Central LA and on August 9 at Cornerstone West LA in Santa Monica. Please email volunteer@cla-la.org to sign up.

ALLIANCE FOR CHILDREN'S RIGHTS

The Alliance for Children's Rights protects the rights of impoverished, abused and neglected children and youth. By providing free legal services and advocacy, the Alliance ensures that children have safe, stable homes, and access to the healthcare and education they need to thrive.  For more information on available opportunities, or if you are interested in volunteering or attending upcoming trainings listed below, please contact the Alliance's Pro bono Director, Laurel Adcock

Special Education Advocacy FREE MCLE

The Alliance is offering a FREE MCLE training on Pro Bono Special Education Advocacy. The training is scheduled for August 20, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at 333 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 550. Attorneys will learn to gather necessary records, ensure completion of appropriate assessments, negotiate Individualized Family Service Plan (for children 0-3) and Individualized Education Plan (for children 3+), and challenge inappropriate denials or decisions. After completing the training, attendees will be eligible to work with the Alliance on Education Advocacy cases. Click here for more information.

Foster Care Benefits Cases for Representation

The Alliance is on the lookout for more pro bono attorneys to take benefits cases. By advocating for funding and services, attorneys can help provide a stable home to a child in need. Pro bono attorneys speak with the caregivers, obtain and analyze records, prepare letters, negotiate with the Department of Children and Family Services, draft briefs, prepare for hearing and ensure compliance with judges’ orders.

Legal Guardianship Cases for Representation

The Alliance is also seeking pro bono attorneys to help eligible caregivers obtain legal guardianship of their children by representing them in probate court. Pro bono attorneys meet with the family, prepare the Petition for Guardianship and represent the family at unopposed hearings in probate court. 

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

Very truly yours,

Rachel Balchum, Pro bono Committee Co-Chair, and

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

If You Build It, They Will Come | By Autumn Ronda, Barristers President

Autumn-Ronda-2013My managing partner was recently educating me on the “good ol’ days” in the practice of law, back when attorneys stayed with their firms for the length of their career and the industry was considered practically recession-proof. What really caught my attention, however, was when he mentioned that an associate attorney could actually make partner, without a book of business. Now, I know that firms have always stressed the importance of associates developing their knowledge of the law and perfecting their technical skills, but these days, good lawyering won’t always save you from the chopping block. In order to make yourself indispensable, even young attorneys must start building a healthy book of business.

The only way to do this is through business development, which requires marketing. I’ve met newly minted lawyers who flawlessly deliver their professional pitches, but generally, networking and branding are terms that strike fear into the hearts of young lawyers. So how can Barristers begin to develop these undisclosed prerequisites of a successful legal practice — in a painless manner?

I suggest focusing on building your professional reputation before you build your “brand.” Anyone can brand themselves in a particular manner by perfecting their sales pitch and having a substantial web presence, but reputation is based on what other practitioners, referral sources, and clients say about you. Thus, the only way to build a good reputation is by consistently and successfully demonstrating your professional integrity and skill. While building a reputation is more difficult and takes more time, it ultimately serves you better, because it is built on substance.

Involvement in the Barristers Board of Governors, and its Committees and activities provides young attorneys with a plethora of opportunities to build their professional reputation:

• Plan and moderate a CLE panel – the panelists will be impressed with your contributions.

• Help plan a Bar fundraiser – influential members of the legal community will take note of your philanthropic nature and organizational skills.

• Write articles for Bar publications – readers will remember your name as a contributing member of our profession.

• Volunteer for pro bono work – you will work closely with experienced practitioners who may refer you cases.

• Participate in changing legislation with the Resolutions Committee – enough said.

There are so many subtle ways to develop your professional reputation through Bar involvement, and these activities tend to come more naturally than those that are solely networking- based. Before you know it, you will have branded yourself organically, without needing a degree in marketing.

Remember that all of this takes time. Work hard to craft your reputation now, and you will build the foundation you need to develop your own client base, while having made yourself an indispensable member of your firm.


Autumn Ronda is a Tax and Estate Planning attorney at Valensi Rose, PLC in Century City. You may contact her at ar@vrmlaw.com or 310 277 8011.

PI Summer Mixer a Success!

The Personal Injury section's innaugural summer mixer brougt attorneys together from all different practice areas. Barristers had a great time!

From left: Barristers President Autumn Ronda, Lawrence Freiman, and Personal Injury Section Vice Chair (and Barristers Treasurer) Jonathan Dennis

From left: Barristers President Autumn Ronda, Lawrence Freiman, and Personal Injury Section Vice Chair (and Barristers Treasurer) Jonathan Dennis

Celebrating the Convergence of Art and the Law | by Anastasia Alen

For those of you who are passionate about art, theater, film, music, and the like in addition to law, you will be happy to know that this year the Barristers Board of Governors has reinvented the Committee For the Arts (CFTA) with many thanks to our President, Autumn Ronda.  The CFTA coordinates programs and events promoting important legal and social issues through the Arts.  I, together with fellow Board member, Dira Imam, co-chair the committee and to start things off on a no less than fabulous note, we held our first CFTA event, “Sights and Sounds From the Courtroom” this past April 30. 

In connection with the Los Angeles Law Library’s Annual Law Week, CFTA co-hosted a free reception celebrating the rule of law through the extraordinary artwork of courtroom sketch artist, Bill Robles, and the music of Gary Green, Esq. and his Big Band of Barristers.  Bill Robles has sketched some of the most infamous trials of the past several decades including that of Charles Mansion, Rodney King, O.J. Simpson, Robert Blake, and Michael Jackson, among many others.  Attendees were treated to a display of over 20 sketches while listening to the tunes of Gary Greene and his Big Band of Barristers as well as enjoying wine and appetizers.  Additionally, Bill Robles himself was at the reception promoting The Illustrated Courtroom: 50 Years of Court Art, a recently released book featuring Bill’s art on the cover.  The book has 140 illustrations featuring a range of the most memorable trials of the last 50 years, and Bill was kind enough to sign these for purchasers.

It was an unforgettable evening of art, music, law, and socializing to say the least, and a wonderful way to jump-start the CFTA.  Thank you to all who attended! 

For those interested in helping us plan future events, you are welcome to attend a meeting Dira and I will be having in the next month to brainstorm ideas.  Please feel free to contact me (anastasia.alen@gmail.com) or Dira (dira@lhjpc.com) if you have any questions or comments! 


Anastasia Alen is an attorney who works in Legal and Business Affairs at the United Talent Agency in Beverly Hills.  Anastasia is a member of the Barristers Board of Governors.  She is the Co-Chair for the Committee For the Arts, the Liaison for the Entertainment Law Executive Committee, and a member of the Nominating Committee.   She can be reached at anastasia.alen@gmail.com or 310-210-4552.

A Match Made in Bar Heaven | by Autumn Ronda, Barristers President

Autumn-Ronda-2013Matching members of our community who are in need of free legal services with the abundance of young lawyers who are in need of practical legal experience is a simple solution to a pervasive problem.

Law School Transparency recently released data on employment rates for 2012 graduates of the 200 ABA-approved law schools. Only 56.2% of 2012 graduates were employed in full-time, long-term jobs as lawyers. For the 5 ABA-approved schools in L.A. County, this number is 54.1%, which is even more disturbing than the national average.

For me, the problem is as follows: where large firms traditionally hired and trained new lawyers, they are currently not, at least not like they used to. Moreover, small to medium firms lack the resources and/or desire to train those without actual experience. One must be an “experienced new lawyer” — it is seemingly an oxymoron!

So how does a new lawyer gain the requisite skills necessary to secure a stable job? Volunteering for a pro bono legal services organization provides a phenomenal opportunity for a young lawyer to learn how to be a working lawyer. There are an astounding amount of individuals whose financial situations hinder their access to legal services. These individuals must be paired with lawyers willing to provide them with free legal representation. The Barristers provide several services and programs to facilitate said pairing.

For many years now, the Barristers have hosted a monthly Free Legal Clinic, which is open to the public, and provides a venue for any lawyer looking to volunteer. Last year, I created a Pro Bono Committee to promote pro bono work among Barristers, and instituted a monthly newsletter highlighting opportunities at legal aid organizations, including upcoming clinics, as well as details on individual cases that require a pro bono lawyer.

Furthermore, we have strengthened our relationships with local legal aid organizations by assigning Barrister liaisons to interface with the organizations, facilitate joint programming, and assist Barristers in their involvement with the organizations. Specifically, we have enhanced our relationship with Bet Tzedek by hosting free training sessions at our offices, which prepare volunteers to serve both at their clinics, and on individual cases, involving conservatorships, guardianships, and wage and hour issues.

All pro bono programs offer volunteers the mentorship of, and training by, senior lawyers. Thus, inexperienced lawyers need not worry that they will be without guidance. I urge all new lawyers in transition to volunteer for pro bono work. Not only will you gain practical experience, but you will be providing a service that is essential to facilitating equality in our justice system.


Autumn Ronda is a Tax and Estate Planning attorney at Valensi Rose, PLC in Century City. You may contact her at ar@vrmlaw. com or 310 277 8011.

4/30/14 Sights and Sounds from the Courtroom

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In connection with the L.A. Law Library's Annual Law Week, the BHBA Barristers Committee for the Arts are honored to co-host this free reception, celebrating the rule of law, on April 30, 2014 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. at the L.A. Law Library. Please join us for an enchanting evening featuring the artwork of courtroom sketch artist, Bill Robles and the music of Gary Green Esq. and his Big Band of Barristers. 

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March Pro Bono Newsletter

Dear Barristers,

The Barristers Pro Bono Committee created this monthly newsletter to connect you with local legal aid organizations, and to encourage you to commit to performing pro bono work, which ultimately results in assistance to the thousands of Los Angeles residents who desperately need access to legal services. Moreover, we recognize that participation in pro bono activities is a great way for young and emerging lawyers to gain the professional experience they require to launch or further their careers.

We are excited to provide you with the March installment of our newsletter and hope that you will take advantage of one or more of the many opportunities listed below!

BHBA BARRISTERS

trainingBarristers/Bet Tzedek Co-Hosted Self-Help Conservatorship Clinic Training

TONIGHT! March 31, at 6 p.m. at the BHBA offices, the Barristers will co-host a FREE MCLE providing the training necessary to volunteer at Bet Tzedek's Self-Help Conservatorship Clinic. This training will provide attendees with an overview of the Limited Conservatorship process, including a basic overview of the substantive law and procedure related to conservatorship practice in Los Angeles County.  The MCLE is offered complimentary to attorneys who commit to volunteering with the Self-Help Conservatorship Clinic.  For more information, and to sign up for the program, please click here!

Barristers/Bet Tzedek Co-Hosted Wage and Hour Training Session

On April 29, at 6 p.m. at the BHBA offices, the Barristers will co-host a FREE MCLE providing the training to participate in Bet Tzedek's Employment Rights Project, which advocates on behalf of various workers, including garment workers, day laborers, and janitors, to rectify labor law abuse. This training will prepare attorney volunteers to represent clients on a wage and hour matter, which requires drafting a trial brief and arguing the case at an administrative hearing where the rules of evidence do not apply. The MCLE is offered complimentary to attorneys who commit to taking on a pro bono wage and hour matter through the Employment Rights Project.  For more information and to sign up for the program please click here!

Barristers Monthly Free Legal Clinic

Volunteer the first Saturday of each month at our very own BHBA Monthly Free Legal Clinic at La Cienega Park in Beverly Hills, where volunteer attorneys answer legal questions presented by the public! Join us Saturday, April 5, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.  If you are interested in volunteering or want more information please feel free to contact co-chairs Brian SmithAnton Labrentz or Wil Wenzel

HARRIET BUHAI CENTER FOR FAMILY LAW

The Harriet Buhai Center for Family Law provides free family law assistance and legal education to the poor. The Center’s mission is to empower individuals and families living in poverty, improve access to the courts, and stop domestic violence. Volunteers may expect to address family problems including: divorce, custody and visitation, support, restraining orders, paternity, and division of property. For more information on volunteering, please contact the Center’s Volunteer Coordinator, Elizabeth Beaty.

April 2014 New Volunteer Training

The Harriet Buhai Center for Family Law is hosting a New Volunteer Training on Saturday, April 26th from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Loyola Law School. The deadline for registration is April 23rd (space is limited; there will be no onsite registration). The all-day training for 5.5 MCLE credits provides participants with an introduction to California family law practice and procedure. Attendees will also receive the Center’s “Family Law Basics” manual, which provides detailed information about family law pleadings. To participate in the training, individuals must commit to volunteer with the Center by either completing 50 hours of pro per assistance within a year of the training or by accepting a pro bono case within a year of the training. The cost of this program is $100 for attorneys and $25 for law students.  Click here to view a flyer with details on the program.

PUBLIC COUNSEL

As many of you know, the BHBA was a founder of Public Counsel, which is the nation’s 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 level. Volunteer lawyers, law students, and legal professionals have the opportunity to work on a variety of different projects.

Volunteer Farsi Translator

Public Counsel is representing an Iranian asylum-seeker, and has five documents that need written translation from Farsi into English.  The volunteer need not be a court certified translator, but simply competent in both languages to do the translations.  Public Counsel needs the documents ideally by April 4, but if not, then by April 10.  For more information, please contact Kristen Jackson, Senior Staff Attorney in the Immigrants' Rights Project.

Bankruptcy Self-Help Desk and Clinic

Public Counsel seeks volunteer attorneys who wish to help individuals through the bankruptcy process, either by counseling individuals one-on-one at the self-help desk, or by presenting to a group in a workshop-style clinic. Volunteers will gain valuable client-counseling skills and increase the breadth of their bankruptcy knowledge due to the plethora of bankruptcy and bankruptcy-related issues that arise at the Bankruptcy Self-help Desk and Clinic. The Self-help Desk, located at the Federal Building, is open to the public on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Clinics are held every other Tuesday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Public Counsel office.  Please contact Maggie Bordeaux for more information.

Bankruptcy Reaffirmation Hearings

Public Counsel is also seeking attorneys who want to gain valuable client-counseling skills by advising debtors regarding the consequences of reaffirming a particular debt prior to their reaffirmation hearing. Reaffirmation Hearings take place at the Los Angeles Bankruptcy Court and the Woodland Hills Bankruptcy Court.  Please contact Maggie Bordeaux for more information.

ChildrenALLIANCE FOR CHILDREN'S RIGHTS

The Alliance for Children's Rights protects the rights of impoverished, abused and neglected children and youth. By providing free legal services and advocacy, the Alliance ensures that children have safe, stable homes, and access to the healthcare and education they need to thrive.  For more information on available opportunities, or if you are interested in volunteering or attending upcoming trainings listed below, please contact the Alliance's Pro bono Director, Laurel Adcock

Foster Care Benefits Advocacy MCLE

The Alliance is offering two FREE MCLE trainings on Foster Care Benefits Advocacy. The trainings are scheduled for April 30, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., and May 8, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m at 333 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 550. The MCLEs will train to represent caregivers on a pro bono basis, advocating for funding and services for children in need. After completing the training, attorneys will be eligible to work with the Alliance on foster care benefits cases.  Click here for more information.

BetBET TZEDEK LEGAL SERVICES

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.  For more information, or to volunteer for one of the listed opportunities, please contact Bet Tzedek's Pro bono Director, Diego Cartagena.

Small Claims Spanish Clinic

Bet Tzedek is seeking the assistance of Spanish-speaking attorneys to volunteer at the Spanish-language session of its Small Claims Clinic. The clinic is held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month at Southwestern Law School. The next clinic is scheduled for April 17 (please note: for April, the clinic is on the third Thursday of the month).  Click here to find information regarding the clinic!

Advance Planning Clinic for Low-Income Seniors

Bet Tzedek is seeking the assistance of individuals to help low-income seniors draft Advance Health Care Directives and Statutory Wills by volunteering at an Advance Planning Clinic to be held at the Glendale Senior Center on April 11, from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.  On April 8, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Bet Tzedek will be providing a FREE MCLE at the Bet Tzedek Legal Services Offices to provide training  on how to meet with, and prepare Advance Health Care Directives and Statutory Wills for, low-income seniors. This training and opportunity is open to attorneys and non-attorneys.

Conservatorship Case for Representation

Bet Tzedek is seeking an attorney to serve as pro bono counsel in a conservatorship case, which involves returning a developmentally disabled young man back to his home where he is supported by his father and can return to his school and support programs. You can view a memo on the issue by clicking here.

CHRISTIANCHRISTIAN LEGAL AID OF LOS ANGELES

Christian Legal Aid of Los Angeles (CLA-LA) believes that pursuing "justice for all" is the best way to offer a hand-up to the most vulnerable in society. CLA-LA is a non-profit corporation, which assists clients regardless of their religion, race, color, creed, national original, ancestry, disability, gender, sexual orientation, or age. CLA-LA offers free legal services to the poor throughout Los Angeles County and provides volunteers with training, fellowship, and FREE MCLE opportunities. For more information on CLA-LA and their offerings, please contact their Legal Fellow, Sarah McKendricks.

Legal URGENT Care Clinic & Training on Traffic & Expungement Issues

On April 5, starting at 11:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., CLA-LA will be hosting a Legal URGENT Care Clinic and FREE MCLE covering Traffic & Expungement Issues. The event will take place at Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles.

Legal URGENT Care Office Hours

Each week, CLA-LA also hosts legal URGENT Care “office hours” throughout Los Angeles County. This month, office hours will be held at 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 16 at the Faithful Central Bible Church in Inglewood, and on April 25 at the LA Law Library.

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

Very truly yours,

Rachel Balchum, Pro bono Committee Co-Chair, and

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

Who Needs a Mentor? | by Autumn Ronda, Barristers President

Autumn-Ronda-2013Everyone! The importance of mentorship cannot be understated. Oftentimes it can mean the difference between a budding professional’s determination to succeed, and their tangible success. Though a mentor relationship can exist in many forms, it always guides the mentee to the most clear and advantageous path to attaining their goals and the mentor will find the experience equally enriching.

I am fortunate to have maintained mentorship relationships with both attorneys and non-legal professionals alike. Though I am glad to have mentors within my firm, having mentors outside of one’s organization is imperative. It is often these individuals who can provide the most impartial view of a problem or obstacle. Sometimes I ask my mentors to comment on the strategy I’ve selected for a particular client, edit something I’ve drafted, or simply brainstorm with me. Other times, I’m looking for advice on the “big picture.” Regardless of the scale of my request, their experienced opinions and helpful reassurances help me to achieve my short and long-term goals.

This all seems very one-sided, right? It seems impossible for one to reciprocate the generosity of someone who is willing to invest so much of themselves in other individuals, but the answer is simple; you can’t repay them, so you must pay it forward instead. Personally, I have mentored at least ten individuals in a meaningful way, so I know the feeling of gratification and accomplishment, which a mentor feels when their mentee succeeds, is immeasurable.

How can you find yourself in a mentor relationship like the ones I described above, you ask? To facilitate meaningful mentoring relationships among BHBA members, my Co-Chair, Zev Shechtman and I have formed the new Barristers Mentorship Committee. Participants will submit detailed applications and the program administrators will make appropriate and thoughtful matches. Student members will be matched with Barristers as mentors. Barristers will be matched with more experienced members as Mentors. Mentor/Mentee matches will design their own guidelines for their relationship and a social event will be held in the spring to “kick-off” the Mentorship Program.

Please go to www.bhba.org/mentorship to complete an application to become a mentor and/or mentee today. I promise, regardless of which end of the relationship you fall on, it will be one of the most beneficial things you do as a member of the BHBA!


Autumn Ronda is a Tax and Estate Planning attorney at Valensi Rose, PLC in Century City. You may contact her at ar@vrmlaw.com or 310 277 8011.

Barristers Monthly Pro Bono Opportunities Newsletter

Dear Barristers, 

We hope your 2014 is off to a great start!

Since the the introduction of this monthly newsletter in October 2013, it has already proven to be an excellent resource for connecting Barristers with local pro bono opportunities through collaboration with various legal services organizations. In December 2013, the Barristers co-sponsored a CLE event with Bet Tzedek in which complimentary training and CLE was offered to a sizeable group of attorneys who each committed to take on a pro bono matter with the Bet Tzedek Guardianship Program. This year, we have more pro bono trainings for CLE credit planned for you! We are also working to team up with new legal aid organizations, so that Barristers can have even greater access to pro bono activities.

We encourage you to make pro bono work one of your 2014 resolutions, and take advantage of the following opportunities to volunteer at legal clinics, attend pro bono trainings, and to take on individual pro bono matters offered by the BHBA Barristers, Bet Tzedek, Christian Legal Aid of Los Angeles and the Alliance for Children's Rights:

BHBABHBA BARRISTERS

Barristers Monthly Free Legal Clinic

Volunteer the first Saturday of each month at our very own BHBA Monthly Free Legal Clinic at La Cienega Park in Beverly Hills, where volunteer attorneys answer legal questions presented by the public! Join us next month on Saturday, March 1st from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. If you are interested in volunteering or would like more information please feel free to contact co-chairs Brian SmithAnton Labrentz or Wil Wenzel

trainingBarrister/Bet Tzedek Co-Hosted Self-Help Conservatorship Clinic Training

On March 31st at 6:00 pm at the BHBA offices, the Barristers will co-host a CLE providing the training necessary to volunteer at Bet Tzedek's Self-Help Conservatorship Clinic. This free CLE training will provide attendees with an overview of the Limited Conservatorship process, including a basic overview of the substantive law and procedure related to conservatorship practice in Los Angeles County. The CLE is free for those attorneys who commit to volunteer with the Self-Help Conservatorship Clinic. For more information, and to sign up for the program, please click here!

Barrister/Bet Tzedek Co-Hosted Wage and Hour Training Session

On April 29th at 6:00 pm at the BHBA offices, the Barristers will co-host a CLE providing the training to participate in Bet Tzedek's Employment Rights Project, which advocates on behalf of various such workers, including garment workers, day laborers, and janitors to rectify such abuse. This training will prepare attorney volunteers to represent clients on a wage and hour matter, which requires drafting a trial brief and arguing the case at an administrative hearing where the rules of evidence do not apply. The CLE is free for those attorneys who commit to take on a pro bono wage and hour matter through the Employment Rights Project. For more information and to sign up for the program please click here!

BetBET TZEDEK LEGAL SERVICES

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. For more information, or to volunteer for one of the listed opportunities, please contact Bet Tzedek's Pro Bono Director, Diego Cartagena. Bet Tzedek invites volunteer attorneys to participate in the following activities:

Identity Theft Matter Available for Pro Bono Placement

You can help a disabled senior expunge a fraudulent consumer bankruptcy by accepting this case. The matter involves an elderly woman who has been a victim of identity theft, which involves a fraudulently filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition. In light of the timeline on the facts in the case, an attorney familiar with Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings is kindly requested to prepare the necessary motions immediately. Please find a full description of the case here.

Self-Help Conservatorship Clinic

Bet Tzedek is seeking the assistance of attorneys interested in volunteering with Bet Tzedek's Self-Help Conservatorship Clinic. Every month, Bet Tzedek holds a clinic workshop for litigants at its office located at 3250 Wilshire Blvd. The upcoming clinics for English-speaking families are scheduled for February 17 and March 17 from 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm. The next clinic for Spanish-speaking families will be held on February 24th, from 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm.  For those interested in participating in a clinic, a training session can be arranged for the day of the clinic at 12:00 pm, with prior notice.

CHRISTIANCHRISTIAN LEGAL AID OF LOS ANGELES

Christian Legal Aid of Los Angeles (CLA-LA) believes that pursuing "justice for all" is the best way to offer a hand-up to the most vulnerable in society. CLA-LA is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation, and assists clients regardless of their religion, race, color, creed, national original, ancestry, disability, gender, sexual orientation or age. CLA-LA offers free legal services to the poor throughout Los Angeles County and provides volunteers with training, fellowship, and free MCLE opportunities. For more information on CLA-LA and their offerings, please contact CLA-LA's Legal Fellow, Sarah McKendricks. To sign up to volunteer, or join CLA-LA's email list, please email volunteer@cla-la.org. This month, CLA-LA invites volunteer attorneys, paralegals, legal secretaries, and law students to join them at the upcoming event:

Legal URGENT Care Clinic Office Hours

Each week, CLA-LA also hosts legal URGENT Care clinic "office hours" where clients are able to see an attorney for free regarding their legal matter. Office hours are held every Tuesday afternoon from 12:30 – 3:30 pm at Homeboy Industries near Downtown LA. Every Wednesday from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm office hours are also held at Faithful Central Bible Church in Inglewood.

ChildrenALLIANCE FOR CHILDREN'S RIGHTS

The Alliance for Children's Rights protects the rights of impoverished, abused and neglected children and youth. By providing free legal services and advocacy, the Alliance ensures that children have safe, stable homes, and access to the healthcare and education they need to thrive.The Alliance depends on generous volunteer lawyers to help clients. For more information on available opportunities, please contact the Alliance's Pro Bono Director, Laurel Adcock. All cases are extensively screened by Alliance staff and carefully supervised. Training manuals and sample documents are available. Two areas of current volunteer need at the Alliance are:

Probate Legal Guardianship

Over 300,000 children in Los Angeles County live with non-parent caregivers. Guardianship gives caregivers legal authority over a child's educational and medical welfare. It also allows guardians access to financial support, while providing vital emotional and physical security to children who have experienced trauma.  Pro bono attorneys prepare the petition and represent caregivers at hearing in unopposed cases. The typical time commitment is 15 to 20 hours over 2-4 months.

Foster Care Benefits

Financial benefits are routinely denied to children in out-of-home care, largely because of improper or inadequate assessments. Without legal advocacy, these children may never receive the appropriate level of support for their most basic needs. Pro bono attorneys prepare briefs, question experts and present evidence at administrative hearings.  The typical time commitment is 40-60 hours over 4-6 months.

We hope this newsletter helps you to help others and make a difference in our community!

All the best,

Rachel Balchum, Pro Bono Committee Co-Chair, and

Autumn Ronda, Pro Bono Committee Co-Chair and Barristers President

Barristers…An Incubator for New Lawyers | by Autumn Ronda, Barristers President

Autumn-Ronda-2013Each year, law schools continue to produce more and more graduates, and yet there are not enough jobs to employ these young and emerging lawyers. Many newly admitted attorneys are accepting job offers with salaries that do not even allow them to make the minimum payments on their student loans. Some new attorneys have been forced to take jobs outside of legal practice, while others are prematurely beginning solo practices in order to avoid a delay in their careers.

Given these unfortunate circumstances, the good work of the Barristers continues to be one of the most critical functions of the Bar. We offer these struggling new lawyers a place to come together and obtain the support they need to launch their careers, despite the grim state of the job market.

The Barristers is a unique division of the Bar because of the many ways it provides new lawyers with invaluable opportunities that can jump-start their careers, or further enhance their maturing professional practices. Barristers is not a section or committee restricted to a particular area of law, or with a specific mission or set of projects; rather, Barristers is what each Barrister chooses to make of it.

With the support of the Barristers Board, all Barristers have the opportunity to design a Continuing Legal Education program on virtually any legal topic of interest to them. The rewards Barristers can reap from chairing CLE programs are endless. For instance, Program Chairs locate and solicit a prominent professional, knowledgeable on the topic of choice, to serve as speaker for the program, thereby developing a relationship that may have not otherwise been enjoyed. Program Chairs also make themselves known within the Bar and the legal community as practitioners who are integral in the planning of valuable professional education programming. If qualified, they may even serve as co-speakers or moderators for the program.

Even more exciting, if a Barrister has a project that he or she is passionate about, and is willing to commit him or herself, the Barristers Board will provide the Barrister with the necessary support needed to design and form his or her own committee. These resources allow the Barrister to participate in community outreach, pro bono or other projects they personally feel are most important and valuable.

Because the Barristers are a group comprised of such enthusiastic, inclusive, diverse, and supportive Bar members, there is built-in flexibility which allows each member to focus on whatever is most personally meaningful to them, while simultaneously giving back to the legal profession and our community. For this and so many other reasons, I am proud to be a BHBA Barrister!


Autumn Ronda is a Tax and Estate Planning attorney at Valensi Rose, PLC in Century City. You may contact her at ar@vrmlaw.com or 310 277 8011.