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 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.
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.