Give Back by Funding Scholarships for Law Students

The Beverly Hills Bar Association and Beverly Hills Bar Foundation have a history of over 50 years of scholarship support for economically disadvantaged law students in Southern California.  The Barrister Board of Governors is working hard to help raise funds for these scholarships, but we can use your help.

These scholarships are given to students who show a financial need during law school and show a commitment to future public service after graduating from law school.  Scholarships are awarded only to deserving and hard-working students who are willing to use their legal education to give back to the community.  The funds will help pay for living expenses like rent, food, gas, utilities, medical expenses and other necessities.

For more information, click on the link below or on your left.  Every little bit counts!

Click above to donate today!

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.

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

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

Barristers Can Facilitate Career Enhancement | By Doron Eghbali, Barristers President

Doron EghbaliMy friends and colleagues often ask me how their involvement in the Beverly Hills Bar Association’s Barristers could help them with their career. My response to them is often simple: become sincerely involved and you will appreciate the tangible and intangible benefits.

In fact, given more than 20 projects and programs that our Barristers’ section offers members and non-members alike, any serious and sincere Barrister would find a program to get involved with or even spearhead, of course with our help and support.

Such Barristers’ programs not only help the community, but also reward those dedicated Barristers who spend their weekends or evenings planning and executing such programs with credibility in the eyes of their employers and clients. This credibility often translates into new and lucrative attorney-client relationships.

Community

Indeed, impeccable reputation and integrity are sine qua non for a successful legal career. Community involvement on the level that Barristers have accomplished undoubtedly helps those volunteers with name recognition.

For instance, on October 25, 2014, Rachel Balchum and Elizabeth Peterson diligently and deftly planned and executed a legal clinic involving more than 30 volunteer Barristers serving more than 100 people as part of L.A. Law Library Pro Bono week.

Kudos to Rachel and Elizabeth who undertook this colossal endeavor under the able aegis of Barristers Immediate Past President Autumn Ronda. In addition, on November 8, 2014, Barristers presented “What Every Tenant Needs to Know,” a substantive two-hour free Landlord-Tenant seminar to the public, at Roxbury Park.

The other examples of Barristers’ constant involvement in the community would be our monthly Roxbury Park Free Legal Clinic and Samoshel. Every first Saturday of the month our volunteers, run by our able Barristers’ President-Elect William S. Wenzel, provide free legal advice to the public.

Every second Saturday of the month, at Santa Monica Shelter, our dedicated Barristers’ volunteers cook and feed around 60 homeless people under the tutelage of our own chef extraordinaire, LeRoy Williams. Another project involved a toy drive in December, before the New Year, to help the greater Los Angeles’ impoverished children.

Legal Community

In addition to community involvement, Barristers are also involved in the legal community by planning and executing a few substantive MCLEs a month, geared mostly toward the needs of the younger attorneys. Our revived “Lunch with…” Power Lunch Series, run by our own Brian Schaller and Yan Goldshteyn, brings together illustrious attorneys in different practice areas with a small group of younger attorneys for an informal and candid round table discussion.

Career Enhancement

Given more than 20 or so events and programs the Barristers spearhead, any member of this proud and humble community should feel rewarded. Hence, when Barristers state these accomplishments on their resumes, LinkedIn, Avvo, Twitter, or Facebook pages, clients and employers take notice.

Clients know that such dedicated lawyers will steadfastly champion their rights, while employers realize that such competent and accomplished lawyers are invaluable assets to their law firms.


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

LA Veterans Stand Down — Volunteer Dec. 20 or 21

Dear BHBA Barristers,

We need your help to deliver free legal assistance to homeless veterans on December 20-21, 2014, at the “Los Angeles Stand Down” held at the LA Convention Center in Downtown LA.  We anticipate that 2500 homeless veterans will attend the LA Stand Down, and many will be seeking legal assistance. These veterans need help and we cannot do this alone. Please join us to serve those who have served us.

What is a Stand Down?  Stand Downs are typically one to three day events where homeless Veterans can receive food, shelter, clothing, health care, benefits counseling, legal assistance, respite, and more. These collaborative events bring together local Veterans Administration staff, other government agencies, and community-based organizations to provide comprehensive help and support to homeless Veterans.

How can I help?  At the Stand Down, volunteers will conduct intake interviews of veterans and help issue spot in the following areas:  (1) Veterans’ Benefits; (2) Citation defense; (3) Family law; (4) Housing/Evictions; and (5) Expungements.  All volunteers will receive training on how to spot these issues and learn answers to basic legal questions in these areas.  Volunteers also will receive reference materials that they can use and refer to during the intake interviews.

How do I sign up?  To register for the LA Stand Down, please visit https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1EOkxQSkRhmVLAP8j7x8SNxDNTj7GU3-pWOnvqtdxYoU/viewform. The event is being coordinated by Legal Aid Foundation Los Angeles (“LAFLA”).  Your responses in the sign-up form are private and will be viewed by LAFLA staff only.

Volunteers must also register (on the google document) to attend a training on one of the following days:

  1. Monday, December 15th, 5:30-7:00 p.m. at LAFLA, 1102 Crenshaw Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019
  2. Wednesday, December 17th, 5:30-7:00 pm at Patriotic Hall, 1816 S. Figueroa, Los Angeles, CA 90015

For more information about legal assistance at the LA Stand Down, contact Nicole M. Perez, LAFLA’s Veterans Justice Center Coordinator at nperez@lafla.org.

Looking forward to seeing you at the Stand Down!

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