Pro Bono Net would like to recognize the thousands of volunteer lawyers who make a huge difference for those in need and the incredibly important work of pro bono volunteers in building our capacity to meet the vast unmet need for civil legal services.  To kick off our Pro Bono Week celebration, we would like to share the profiles of two dedicated Oklahoma based volunteers, Jessica Ortiz Sanchez and Brent S. Howard, who volunteer with Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc (LAOK). 

 

Jessica I. Ortiz Sanchez
Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc.

As I grew up, I dreamed to be an attorney to help people, to make a difference in their lives. My main motivation has always been to work for access to justice for all.

I began volunteering for the Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma in 2015 with a Chapter 7 case; which was my first bankruptcy case. The amazing Donna Ellsworth, paralegal for the Lawton office motivated me and guided me thru the process. Thanks to that experience I am now skilled in bankruptcy law and have done one more pro-bono bankruptcy case.

Another memorable case was a name change for a minor child. The parents needed to correct the spelling and last name of their child in the birth certificate. While it seems like an easy task it was a complicated legal issue for the parents who do not understand the process and are not proficient in the English language. Since I am fluent in Spanish and familiar with their culture I was able to relate with the clients and complete the process promptly.  The clients were satisfied and very grateful for my work.

Pro Bono net has many resources available for volunteers. The HotDocs platform for documents templates, LawHelp Interactive, is very convenient and the CLE programs curated on the calendar are outstanding. Moreover, the extraordinary people from  LAOK are always available to mentor when needed. Besides fulfilling the dream to help people, this experience has equipped me with new skills, vast knowledge and understanding of legal topics.

I’m also involved with the Oklahoma’s Lawyers for Hero’s Program. Thru this program I have the opportunity to serve active duty, retirees and veterans in need of legal services. As of today, I have spent several volunteer hours representing those who have dropped their own affairs to serve our Country.

It might be time consuming and challenging at times but it’s satisfying knowing you have made a difference in the client’s life. I will definitely recommend it to my colleagues attorneys.

I am a proud supporter of the Pro Bono Net and LAOK, and will continue to work to remove barriers and bring access to justice for all.


Brent S. Howard
Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc.

Brent S. Howard is a homegrown attorney.   He attended grade school and High School in the rural surrounds of Altus, Oklahoma.  He attained an Agricultural Economics and Accounting Degree from Oklahoma State University and a Law degree from University of Oklahoma.  He then went on to attain Legal Masters (LL.M.) in Taxation from the New York University School of Law.  He has been certified to practice by the Oklahoma Bar Association as well as the United States Tax Court.

Mr. Howard has now come home because he “saw that there was a lack of information and a lack of people knowledgeable in implementing estate and tax planning on a comprehensive basis.”  Since returning home Mr. Howard has become a valued asset to the community he volunteers in all aspects of the community.  He is the Chairman of the Board of Regents for Western Oklahoma State College, committees at the First United Methodist Church, he is the past President of the local Bar Association, a member of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau and he is a State Director for the Young Farmers and Ranchers Association.

Mr. Howard uses his knowledge “to help tax-exempt organizations organize their paperwork.  For all Non-Profit Organizations he “donates half of his time when he helps with filing for IRS recognition, organizing documents with the State, or other non-litigation work.”  Some of his most memorable work he has done is with the youth of our community.  He holds much esteem in a quote he heard at a local seminar “Your job or profession should not define who you are, it should only be a platform for you setting that definition.”

Mr. Howard continually helps with annual legal clinics involving the youth in our high schools featuring the Oklahoma Bar Association own guide “You are 18 now”.  He thrives on being a mentor to local youth and giving guidance into future endeavors.  Although he may not be the traditional Pro Bono Attorney Legal Aid sees daily he brings a world of knowledge to other areas of law we do not delve in so that our clients have a growing appreciation for our referral systems.  We are a small rural community that work hand and hand with other local Non-profits and by Mr. Howard helping these smaller non-profits it brings more advantages to our communities.  For example, one such non-profit he has been helping is our local House of Grace and Mercy which would help mothers and children be provided the basic skill sets to be independent or less dependent on others to care for their children.  This would help mothers reintegrate with their children after separations have occurred.  This also extends to the local Exodus House which is a “proven effective program for ex-offenders to get on their feet and prepare to be an asset to the community.  This program has succeeded in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa areas.

Without Mr. Howard’s help and initiative to serve this community these smaller non-profits may not be able to move forward.  He should be acknowledged for his long standing help and the guidance he provides for both the youth of our community as well as the overall community.  We would like to thank him for his service and we look forward to our futures together in this community.


Legal 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 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.