April 2017

Pro Bono Net would like to highlight the volunteer efforts of Michael Fuller with Legal Aid Services of Oregon!

In honor of National Volunteer Week 2017, which takes place this week, April 23-29, Pro Bono Net would like to extend our gratitude to the thousands of volunteer lawyers who make a huge difference for those in need.  For those at risk of losing their homes, income and even their children, volunteer lawyers are an indispensable resource. Now more than ever it is important for us to support our most vulnerable communities. This wouldn’t be possible without the immense efforts of volunteer lawyers around the country and the organizations that facilitate volunteering. The following profile is one such volunteer!  

Michael Fuller, Olsen Daines PC

Michael Fuller Michael Fuller is a committed pro bono volunteer and strongly believes in increasing access to justice to low income populations.  About 20% of Michael’s case load is pro bono work.

Michael volunteers for several Pro Bono Projects with the Portland Regional Office of Legal Aid Services of Oregon (LASO).  He began volunteering with the Bankruptcy Clinic in June of 2013.  He volunteers on a regular basis for the Bankruptcy Clinic and the Senior Law Project.  The majority of the cases that Michael accepts are time intensive cases.  Michael also accepts direct referrals in the areas of consumer law, student loans and landlord/tenant.  Michael has represented almost 40 clients and dedicated 140 hours to pro bono case work through LASO.  The numbers only represent a small amount of the pro bono work that Michael does.

We greatly appreciate Michael’s dedication to pro bono work and passion to make a difference in the lives of his low-income clients by advocating for their legal rights.

How did you become interested in pro bono work?

My passion to practice law came from TV shows and movies. As a kid, I watched street-smart attorneys like My Cousin Vinny and Matlock fight for underdogs regardless of their ability to pay.

Growing up poor, we didn’t know any lawyers. The day I passed the bar was the best day in my life. I was held back in the first grade and expelled from middle school. I come from humble beginnings, was raised in a trailer park by a single mom, and am the first in my family to go to college.

Can you share a highlight from your: a) most recent, or b) most memorable pro bono case?

Last year we wiped out over $700,000 in student loans for pro bono clients in bankruptcy. Yesterday we settled our first pro bono eviction defense case from legal aid. The landlord ended up paying our client $2,450 cash and giving him 6 months free rent! The landlord also agreed to donate $2,500 to Legal Aid Services of Oregon. The landlord also agreed to pay my rate of $410 per hour, which we’re donating to the Oregon Consumer League. I’m very proud of the result – especially considering it started out as an eviction defense case!

Why do you feel it’s important for you to do pro bono work? What motivates you?

Everybody knows lawyers make too much money. Pro bono work is the least we can do as a profession. I’m motivated by evening the score for the poor. And by the constant fear of losing.

 


LASO-black-and-white-logo---small

Legal Aid Services of Oregon (LASO) is a statewide non-profit organization that provides access to legal help for people to protect their livelihoods, their health, and their families. As a civil legal aid program, LASO assures fairness for all in the justice system, regardless of how much money you have. Through our own staff attorneys and hundreds of volunteers, LASO gives free legal help to thousands of low-income and elderly clients each year in matters relating to their physical safety, access to food and shelter, and other critical legal needs.  

LASO’s mission is to achieve justice for the low-income communities of Oregon by providing a full range of the highest quality civil legal services.

Read our press release thanking volunteer lawyers across the country.

Pro Bono Net would like to highlight the volunteer efforts of David Hood with Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc!

In honor of National Volunteer Week 2017, which takes place this week, April 23-29, Pro Bono Net would like to extend our gratitude to the thousands of volunteer lawyers who make a huge difference for those in need.  For those at risk of losing their homes, income and even their children, volunteer lawyers are an indispensable resource. Now more than ever it is important for us to support our most vulnerable communities. This wouldn’t be possible without the immense efforts of volunteer lawyers around the country and the organizations that facilitate volunteering. The following profile is one such volunteer!  

David HoodProfile: David Hood

Legal Aid’s Stillwater Law Office  signed up new pro bono attorney, David Hood at our October 28, 2016 free CLE.  David agreed to take a case and was willing to accept a case assignment that very day! Grateful, LASO Staff member, Stacy Boyles let Mr. Hood know that the case documents and notes would be sent to him the following Monday.

This case involved a senior citizen, a veteran living in Logan County requesting help  with a divorce to end an abusive marriage.  The client had obtained a protective order on his own but did not have the money for a divorce.  His wife had 2 domestic violence convictions.   On Monday morning, as Stacy prepared the case documents for Mr. Hood, he called to let Legal Aid know that he was able to reach the client and the client was sitting in his office.  Needless to say, David’s efforts were extraordinary!  Mr.. Hood’s quick response enabled this client to get the protection he needed close the divorce by the end the year.

Legal Aid truly appreciates the extraordinary efforts of all of our volunteer attorneys but it is especially nice when an assignment is wrapped up so quickly!

About David

David Hood is a life-long Guthrie resident.  He earned his undergraduate degree in history at the University of Oklahoma, followed by graduate degrees in law and international relations at the University of Washington.  Following law school, David worked overseas with an American Bar Association program in the Central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union helping organize grass-roots legal institutions such as judicial associations, legal clinics and student bar associations.  He also taught law in Lithuania.

Upon returning to the U.S., David worked for a decade for a variety of firms in the Oklahoma City area.  For the last eleven years, he has maintained his solo practice in Guthrie, where he engages in a wide variety of practice areas typical of a small-town attorney.  For the past eight years, David had served as the Municipal Judge for the City of Guthrie, and he was also recently appointed as the Municipal Judge for the Town of Wellston.  David’s real job is being father two his two beloved daughters, ages 9 and 5.  He and his family attend the First Christian Church in Guthrie.

This profile originally appeared on probono.net/ok, March 2017.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s volunteer profile!

LASOLegal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc. (LASO) is a non-profit, statewide organization that provides civil legal assistance to low-income people throughout Oklahoma. LASO has 18 offices throughout Oklahoma. LASO is a proud partner with Pro Bono Net providing information and resources to support our volunteers and staff through www.probono.net/ok.

Read our press release thanking volunteer lawyers across the country.

Pro Bono Net would like to highlight the work of Dora Galacatos, Executive Director of The Feerick Center for Social Justice, for her work in leveraging volunteer work through AmeriCorps VISTA fellows!

In honor of National Volunteer Week 2017, which takes place this week, April 23-29, Pro Bono Net would like to extend our gratitude to the thousands of volunteer lawyers who make a huge difference for those in need.  For those at risk of losing their homes, income and even their children, volunteer lawyers are an indispensable resource. Now more than ever it is important for us to support our most vulnerable communities. This wouldn’t be possible without the immense efforts of volunteer lawyers around the country and the organizations that facilitate volunteering.

DoraGalacatos 2017Dora Galacatos
Executive Director, The Feerick Center for Social Justice

As Executive Director of the Feerick Center for Social Justice at Fordham Law School, Dora Galacatos oversees diverse initiatives aimed at combating poverty and addressing common challenges faced by low-income New Yorkers.

The programs developed by the Feerick Center work by leveraging limited resources through volunteer engagement. In addition to overseeing the design and implementation of these efforts, Dora sponsors and coordinates a rotating team of AmeriCorps VISTA fellows, who in turn, are largely responsible for marshalling student, alumni, lawyer, and community volunteers.

One project made possible by Dora’s work with AmeriCorps VISTA fellows is the Unaccompanied Children Resource Center. This website provides curated legal resources and highlights pro bono opportunities for attorneys interested in working with unaccompanied immigrant children. By encouraging and facilitating pro bono engagement, this project aims to address the legal needs of children who would otherwise be forced to represent themselves in immigration proceedings.

The highlight of my work related to access-to-justice at the Feerick Center is collaborating with extraordinary partners to build volunteer capacity. Through our partnerships we are able to harness the work of volunteer attorneys to carry out social justice work and to make access to justice meaningful for low-income and vulnerable clients. It is such a noble and inspiring effort and I am so very honored and privileged to be able to do it with the community of stakeholders with which the Center is involved. – Dora Galacatos

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s volunteer profile!

Fordham Law’s Feerick Center for Social Justice works with students, alumni, lawyers, and community volunteers to connect low-income New Yorkers to the legal resources they need and cannot afford. We train law students and others to engage in social change efforts.

Read our press release thanking volunteer lawyers across the country.

 

There is an online form available from the New York Courts which allows adults to change their name in the State of New York. The form can be used statewide and it is one of the most popular online forms in the United States, hosted by Pro Bono Net’s LawHelp Interactive. From just October to December 2016, the form was created almost 15,000 times.

Online Form Name ChangeLegal Name Changes via Online Form

Transcend Legal, https://transcendlegal.org/ – a new nonprofit that serves the needs of the trans community in NY state – reached to Claudia Johnson, Pro Bono Net’s LawHelp Interactive Program Manager, in late 2016 to find out more about the online form. The form is created and hosted by the NY Courts Access to Justice Program, and is accessible here: http://nycourts.gov/courthelp/Namechange/forms.shtml

The ability to change their legal name is an important right for transgender persons. Having a name that matches their gender identity can minimize discrimination, increase their personal safety, and make it easier to obtain and maintain employment. However, the ease of changing names can vary, affecting a great many transgender individuals.

With this in mind, Claudia connected Noah Lewis, and Charlie Arrowroot (Transcend Legal) and Milo Primeaux (Empire Justice Center) with Rochelle Klempner, Chief Counsel at the New York State Courts Access to Justice Program. A discussion ensued about the practice of some New York counties adding hoops for the applicants in addition to submitting the printed form. These hoops often require waiting periods, multiple court visits, and additional costs. The New York Access to Justice Program contacted the local courts to inquire about those additional requirements that were creating a hardship for filing pro se in those counties.

A Successful Outcome

By early February 2017, the local requirements and hurdles were removed, and the form can now be filed in all counties in NY State as is, without extra requirements. This is an important victory for the transgender community in New York and is one step further down the road of increasing access to justice for transgender and non-binary individuals.

In addition to developing innovative technologies, Pro Bono Net specializes in connecting members of the civil legal community to facilitate increased access to justice. In NY, the partnership between the New York Courts and Pro Bono Net allowed Transcend Legal and Empire Justice Center to bring the legal needs of the transgender community directly to those who could help make changes. The simplification of the process that makes it easier for adults to change their identity documents allows more people to live safely in the state of NY.

Looking to the Future

Transcend Legal, Empire Justice Center, and the New York Courts Access to Justice Program are now exploring further simplification opportunities to remove access to justice barriers to adult name changes and other forms. They will explore remote work flows and further clarifications on the instructions for those who use the form to change their name in months to come. Collaborations of this kind are crucial in ensuring that the justice system runs smoothly and is accessible to those who cannot afford an attorney.


Transcend LegalTranscend Legal cultivates equitable social, medical and legal recognition of transgender people by offering culturally competent, transgender-led legal representation, public policy advocacy, community education & organizing, and public education.

 

Empire Justice is a statewide, multi-issue, multi-strategy public interest law firm focused on changing the “systems” within which poor and low income families live. With a focus on poverty law, Empire Justice undertakes research and training, acts as an informational clearinghouse, and provides litigation backup to local legal services programs and community based organizations.  As an advocacy organization, we engage in legislative and administrative advocacy on behalf of those impacted by poverty and discrimination.  As a non-profit law firm, we provide legal assistance to those in need and undertake impact litigation in order to protect and defend the rights of disenfranchised New Yorkers.

 

NYCourts ATJ ProgramThe NYS Courts Access to Justice Program is one of the Unified Court System’s many programs and initiatives which strive to increase access, improve the delivery of justice and promote public confidence in the courts. Prior to March 2009, the responsibilities of the NYS Courts Access to Justice Program were overseen by the former Office of the Administrative Judge for Justice Initiatives.