Community Outreach

2017 Trial Lawyers Care Award

Each year, the American Association for Justice Trial Lawyers Care Award recognizes the efforts of members and trial lawyer-affiliated organizations that serve the community and foster positive relationships with the public through volunteer activities. Their outstanding efforts demonstrate how trial lawyers care.

In 2017, we were thrilled to receive numerous nominations from trial lawyers across the country. Below are the finalists for the 2017 Trial Lawyers Care Award.

Ben Cooper (Charles Benjamin Cooper), Cooper & Elliott – Columbus, Ohio
Ben created a name and gender marker change legal clinic in Columbus to assist the transgendered community in formally changing their names and gender markers on legal documents such as driver’s license, state-issued identity card, social security card, passport, etc.  After months of planning, he proposed the idea to Equitas Health, a large regional nonprofit that is one of the nation’s largest LGBTQ healthcare organizations and TransOhio. He then recruited and trained (both as to federal/state/local laws and sensitivity to the transgender community) dozens of lawyers to provide volunteer assistance and launched the first clinic in August 2016. To date, the legal clinic has assisted more than 150 individuals throughout Ohio in changing their names and gender markers on legal documents. Free clinics have been conducted in Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Dayton, Youngstown, and Athens. This has been a widely acclaimed success and is becoming a model for similar clinics throughout the United States.

Scott J. Corwin – Los Angeles, California
JUSTICE IN THE COURTROOM, SERVICE IN THE COMMUNITY. That is the motto of Los Angeles Trial Lawyers’ Charities (“LATLC”). The primary purpose of LATLC is to make a positive difference in the quality of life for people within the greater Los Angeles area, focusing on issues related to education, children, survivors of abuse, persons with disabilities, and homelessness, by providing financial assistance to needy persons and groups in the greater Los Angeles area. LATLC’s members are committed to making a positive impact on the lives of those in need throughout Southern California. As 2016 President of LATLC, Scott was the major driving force behind LATLC not only in 2016, but in the years 2014 and 2015 as well. Of course, LATLC is a team effort, but Scott’s donation of time and treasure is unprecedented.

Stefan Bjorn Feidler, Anastopoulo Law Firm – South Carolina
The Mauli Ola Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to providing funds, awareness, and hope to kids diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (“CF”). The foundation connects pro surfers with kids, giving them a day of surf and fun. Stefan has stepped up an organized food, refreshments, and assistance through his firm during the day of outreach. Stefan will be assisting in bringing this organization to South Carolina or East Coast Chapter, since the Foundation is based out of Hawaii and focuses on the West Coast.

*Jennifer Jon Greene – New Orleans, Louisiana
In August 2016, devastating floods hit Louisiana, killing 15 people and displacing 30,000 others. In the immediate aftermath, attorney Jennifer Greene did not hesitate. She immediately began brainstorming with fellow attorneys about how to help. Rebuilding homes was out of the question, but replacing school supplies seemed important, and do-able. Jennifer coordinated with Trial Lawyers Care and moved mountains in mere days. Within two weeks, lawyers from across the country answered Jennifer’s call and a team of volunteers in New Orleans had unpacked and organized 800 boxes of school supplies into filled backpacks for hundreds of kids. Louisiana’s First Lady, Donna Edwards — herself a teacher — brought Jennifer’s volunteer effort together with Team Comeback Kids to get the backpacks distributed. Every child who received one of Jennifer’s backpacks surely had a little bit easier time getting back to the normalcy of life.

*Jennifer was the winner of the 2017 Trial Lawyers Care Award. She accepted the award at the AAJ 2017 Annual Convention in Boston. Read more about Jennifer’s dedication and hard work.

Jefferey Ogden Katz, Patterson Law Firm – Chicago, Illinois
Jefferey is a director and co-founder of The Up Foundation. The foundation, run by Jefferey, his wife, and another couple, was formed to give back to their community.  It provides support to children and their families affected by a debilitating disease or disorder. Now in its eighth year, the foundation has raised more than $900,000 for Autism Speaks, St. Jude, and The Children’s Heart Foundation.

Jeff Korek, Gersowitz Libo & Korek, P.C. – New York, New York
Jeff has always had a passion for basketball and, after learning of a Bronx foundation started by an acquaintance after the tragic loss of six of his family members, The Gardiner Foundation, he knew he wanted to help in any way he could. While many could have just given financial support, Jeff knew he needed to do more. He has worked directly with Mr. Gardiner each year since 2009 to make sure more people, especially the youth of the community, are helped as much as possible. This help includes personal donations, firm donations, financial help requests from many of his colleagues and countless hours spent by Jeff and his staff members to make The Gardiner Foundation what it is today.

Michael Brady Lynch, The Michael Brady Lynch Firm  – Winter Park, Florida
For the past 5 years, Michael has partnered with Special Olympics Florida. His vision of improving the life and health of those in this community seemed like a natural synergy for both Michael and this wonderful organization. Each year, he works side-by-side with the Special Olympics Florida staff and their volunteers to ensure individuals are able to compete and experience the special comradery of being involved in athletics. This propelled his involvement in the event, Jack in the Park. Jack in the Park creates an “out of the ballroom” event to invoke more people to give to this amazing charity. It also provides a rewarding experience to the medaling athletes in the games by introducing and acknowledging those winners to the crowds of attendees throughout the evening. Serving on the Executive Board, Michael has been instrumental in raising thousands of dollars from local business to support this event. He has also generously contributed almost $20,000 of his own personal funds to Jack in the Park. This ingenious partnership doesn’t just get a few people focused on helping The Special Olympics of Florida, but the entire Central Florida area striving towards ensuring those with intellectual and physical disabilities discover new strengths and abilities for success in their lives.

Scott Thomas McArdle – Alabama
Scott’s dedication to Make-A-Wish Alabama is unwavering. He joined the Board of Directors in 2012, became the Board Chairman in 2013, and continues to serve in that role. Serving as the board chair for any non-profit is a tremendous time commitment, but this is even greater for Make-A-Wish Alabama as the organization became a new, independent chapter in 2012. While Make-A-Wish does have a big national brand, the local chapter is essentially a start-up organization which has required extraordinary time, resources, and old-fashioned hard work over the past five years. One of the many ways Scott has made change occur is through the development of the organization’s signature fundraiser, Rivals for Wishes. It was Scott’s creativity that led to the development of an event that raised over $450,000 in just two short years. Scott does not let anything deter him when he is working on a project. He does not like mediocrity and strives for excellence in all he does. That has never been more evident than through his work with Make-A-Wish Alabama.

Marc P. Weingarten and Melanie Garner, The Locks Law Firm – Pennsylvania
Marc and Melanie teach a monthly class in Civics in a Philadelphia Public High School (GAMP – Girard Academic Music Program). Their firm has been involved in this program for over five years. They teach classes of ninth and tenth graders about the civil justice system, constitutional principles, and current events. They also often go in as a team of two or three along with guest speakers, including a juvenile court judge, local mayors, etc. Marc and Melanie try to schedule 6 to 8 classroom visits, once per month. Other lawyers in the Locks Firm participate as well.

Mark Zamora, The Orlando Firm – Decatur, Georgia
The son of Cuban immigrants who fled Castro’s Cuba in the 1960s, Mark has been involved, and continues to be involved, with the PATH Academy Charter School in Metro Atlanta. PATH is a public/private charter with 99% of its student population coming from low-income, non-white, minority youth. Mark has been involved with the organization, not only contributing financially, but spending time by serving on the school’s governing board, including nearly three years as chair, and has also served as a coach and mentor to the school’s students. PATH, which stands for Perseverance, Accomplishment, Triumph, and Honor, is now one of the state’s highest performing schools. The mission of PATH Academy is to create a safe and nurturing learning environment in which refugee, immigrant, and local children from the Dekalb County area can develop the knowledge, skills, and character needed to succeed in top-quality high schools, colleges, and the competitive world beyond regardless of their socio-economic status. Mark’s impact has touched a community of thousands. Through his efforts, the school secured more than $350,000 in direct cash or in-kind contributions to support athletic programs for the children who attend PATH. The school has achieved both academic and athletic success while Mark has been engaged with the program.

Each of these nominees embodies the mission and spirit of Trial Lawyers Care and we thank them for their passion, dedication, and action on behalf of their communities and ours. Please be on the lookout for trial lawyers doing good in your community to nominate for the 2018 Trial Lawyers Care Award.

Thank you.

Posted on December 7, 2017 at 2:39 pm in Community Outreach, General by Marie D'Avignon - RSS 2.0

TLC Takes on 2017

Although we are not yet finished, 2017 has proved to be a challenging year for Trial Lawyers Care (TLC). Within the span of one month, we faced challenges assisting communities destroyed by hurricanes and wildfires in Houston, Florida, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Northern California.

When we are looking to serve communities in natural disasters, the hardest part is to make sure the efforts are helpful on a long-term basis. As Jessie Hoerman, TLC co-chairperson, explains:

“Immediately after a natural disaster, we are contacted by many lawyers who desperately want to be a part of relief efforts. There is no more reassuring feeling than to be overwhelmed with offers to help during a disaster. The tricky part of our job at Trial Lawyers Care is to make sure our efforts don’t further complicate the immediate needs of a community destroyed by a natural disaster. We have found that sometimes the best fit for our incredibly charitable community of trial lawyers is to look for ways to serve long term needs.”

TLC member Karen Beyea-Schroeder of the Woodlands, Texas, was key to our long-term efforts in Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Karen stepped up immediately as we sifted through ideas to help Houston. Through her connections with the Houston Federation of Teachers, Karen learned that the best fit for trial lawyers would be in the days to come — when the immediate relief efforts were finished and the schools were struggling to reopen.

TLC successfully organized a school supply drive which provided supplies to seven schools in the Houston area. Supplies were purchased through an online wish list and shipped directly to the Lanier Law Firm in Houston. Mark and Becky Lanier graciously offered to store packages at their home, despite already hosting a number of hurricane evacuees. TLC then organized and distributed the donations with additional assistance from Sam Houston Area Council Boy Scout Troop 889.

Thanks to the many donations from trial lawyers, friends, and family members across the country, TLC collected 124 backpacks and close to 4,000 other items for students in need. In addition, although it wasn’t requested, TLC received several cash donations which helped create classroom activity centers at Hilliard Elementary school.

Our work in Houston is not done. Many children have been displaced by Hurricane Harvey and Houston is still struggling to serve the needs of all of their students while rebuilding their schools. We expect to continue working with the Houston Federation of Teachers to assure every child has the opportunity to learn despite their challenges.

Additionally, TLC continues to look for ways to support those affected by the natural disasters in other areas. Thank you for your support.

Posted on November 30, 2017 at 2:49 pm in Community Outreach, General by Marie D'Avignon - RSS 2.0

Hurricane Relief

Please see below for information on how you can help victims of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. We will continue to update this page.

September 13, 2017 – How to Help in the Virgin Islands

Texas firm Ferrer, Poirot, & Wansbrough is working with St. Thomas businesses to send helicopters and planes with supplies to help people in the Virgin Islands following the destruction left by Hurricane Irma. So far, two planes with supplies have made it in and out, and a plane full of generators is also expected this week. More information can be found on the fundraising page.

We have also been in contact with the Florida Justice Association, Texas Trial Lawyers Association, and are also checking with Georgia Trial Lawyers Association. We will update you when we learn more about what is needed. You can also check for updates on AAJ’s Trial Lawyers Care Facebook page.

 

September 5, 2017 – TLC School Supply Drive for Houston Schools:

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The severe and deadly flooding from Hurricane Harvey devastated many Houston public schools just before the start of the 2017 school year. The Houston Independent School District (HISD) serves over 200,000 students and over 75% of those children are economically disadvantaged. Houston is working hard towards recovery, but the need for assistance is great. Trial lawyers are looking to support the great efforts of the Houston schools as we did last year with students affected by the Louisiana flooding.

While HISD works to make sure students have a safe learning environment, we are working hard to gather supplies to support that environment. Many students, teachers, and schools have been left with no school supplies and no ability to shop for new supplies—and that is where we are looking to step in and help. Here is how you can help:

Trial Lawyers Care has created a school supply “wish list” on Amazon.com. 

TLC/AAJ School Supply Wish List

Please select “Becky Lanier’s Gift Registry Address” for shipping when making your purchase.

This wish list will be open until 9/24/17. Please make purchases and share this list in your own networks soon!

This Amazon wish list has been pre-populated with supplies to serve 100 children in each of the grades, Kindergarten through Middle School. When you make a purchase through this link, the supplies will go directly to the home of Mark and Becky Lanier where we will  be unpacking, sorting, and distributing shipments. Trial Lawyers Care Committee member, Karen Schroeder, is organizing a team of volunteers to do this work. If you would like to assist with the efforts to sort and distribute on the ground in Houston or if you have any questions, please email Jessie Hoerman – Jess@THLawyer.com or Karen Schroeder – Karen.Schroeder@Schroeder-lawoffice.com.

Thank you for your help with this effort!

 

August 31, 2017 – Request from Texas Trial Lawyers Association (TTLA):

TTLA members and their families have been forced out of their homes and their law offices, and many of you have reached out to us asking, “How can I help?”

TTLA is setting up a database to connect members who need shelter or office space with members who have space available.

If you are in need of assistance, please complete this form.
If you would like to offer assistance, please complete this form.

 

August 28, 2017 – Message from AAJ President and Donation Links:

AAJ President Kathleen L. Nastri sent the following message to AAJ members:

“Our thoughts are with those in Houston and throughout Texas and Louisiana as the devastation from Hurricane Harvey continues. As we have in the past, we stand ready to assist the victims of this disaster. We are in contact with the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, the Trial Lawyers Care Committee, and AAJ members in Texas and around the country to provide resources to the victims. Many of you have asked, and we have put together the following list of organizations to which you can contribute to help with immediate relief efforts:

Houston Food Bank

Corpus Christi Food Bank

Greater Houston Community Foundation

Donations both big and small are needed to assist in recovery efforts. Thank you for your support.”

Posted on August 28, 2017 at 10:12 pm in Community Outreach, General by Marie D'Avignon - RSS 2.0

Keeping Education in Reach: Trial Lawyers Give Back in Louisiana

Each year, the American Association for Justice (AAJ) presents the Trial Lawyers Care Award to an exemplary AAJ member who serves the community and fosters positive relationships with the public through volunteer activities.

The 2017 honoree is attorney Jennifer Greene of New Orleans.

Jennifer Greene headshot

(Jennifer Greene, 2017 TLC Award Honoree)

In August 2016, devastating floods hit Louisiana, killing 15 people and displacing 30,000 others. All told, the state suffered losses of more than $10 Billion. Hardworking folks lost everything in the state’s worst disaster since Hurricane Katrina. Families watched as their belongings, including their children’s backpacks, literally floated out of reach.

In the immediate aftermath, attorney Jennifer Greene did not hesitate. She immediately began brainstorming with fellow attorneys about how to help. Replacing school supplies seemed important, and do-able. While families began the long process of rebuilding their homes and their lives, their children could at least be prepared to go back to school right away.

A colleague suggested the attorneys coordinate with Trial Lawyers Care. Once connected, they moved mountains in mere days.

Within two weeks, lawyers from across the country answered Jennifer’s call and a team of volunteers in New Orleans had unpacked and organized 800 boxes of school supplies and filled backpacks for hundreds of kids. Louisiana’s First Lady, Donna Edwards – herself a teacher – brought Jennifer’s volunteer effort together with Team Comeback Kids to get the backpacks distributed.

Every child who received one of Jennifer’s backpacks surely had a little bit easier time getting back to the normalcy of life.

 classroomflood(Flooding of schools in Louisiana, 2016)

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boxes 2

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(School supply donations from trial lawyers over the course of two weeks)

Posted on July 19, 2017 at 10:18 pm in Community Outreach, General by Marie D'Avignon - RSS 2.0

Giving Back in Boston

AAJ members will be busy in Boston next week, not only attending educational events at the AAJ Annual Convention, but also giving back to the local community. Please see below for a list of community service opportunities available to AAJ members in Boston.

On The Rise Service Project

AAJ Trial Lawyers Care Committee members will be volunteering at On The Rise (OTR) Saturday, July 22. Founded in 1995, OTR is a daytime resource and community for women in Greater Boston who are homeless or living in crisis. In a dignified home in Cambridge, Mass., OTR’s Safe Haven Program provides women with the essentials for daily survival (safety, clothes, food, showers) and builds trusting relationships that help women move beyond crisis toward greater well-being. The Saturday event is now full, but volunteers are needed to help purchase essential items to support the women at OTR. Items can be purchased directly from an Amazon wish list and shipped to OTR.

Donation Bins at Convention

Additionally, we are asking convention attendees to donate toiletries for OTR (including un-used or slightly used hotel amenities) in donation bins located in The HUB during exhibit hours. For those unable to attend a service project, this is a great way to still show your support for those in need.

Cradles to Crayons Service Project

The AAJ New Lawyers Division (NLD) will volunteer on Friday, July 21, from 9:00 a.m. to12:00 p.m. at Cradles to Crayons, an organization focused on providing clothing, school supplies, toys, and more to children in need.

The LGBT Caucus and Minority Caucus will also help at Cradles to Crayons. The two groups are joining forces to make the greatest possible impact for this amazing organization. The group will be at Cradles to Crayons from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Friday, July 21.

Anyone who has attended a service project in the past can attest to what a great experience it is – helping out in the community while bonding with your fellow AAJ members.

All of the AAJ community service projects are also listed on the  AAJ 2017 Annual Convention website and app. If you have any questions or want to volunteer, please email marie.davignon@justice.org.

We look forward to seeing everyone in Boston and giving back to our host community!

Posted on July 14, 2017 at 7:51 pm in Community Outreach, General by Marie D'Avignon - RSS 2.0

A Lawyer’s Job is to Help: Pickert is Jacksonville Lawyer of the Year

Alan Pickert, longtime partner at Terrell Hogan and AAJ member, is 2017’s Lawyer of the Year in Jacksonville, Florida. The Jacksonville Bar Association (JBA) and Daily Record chose Mr. Pickert as this year’s honoree, out of 2200 lawyers, because of his efforts both inside and outside of the courtroom. Pickert has been practicing law for 27 years, handling a wide range of personal injury cases for his firm.

He first became involved with JBA more than 20 years ago when he volunteered to join their work with the Special Olympics. Over the next two decades, Pickert became increasingly involved with both the JBA – joining their Young Lawyers Section, then the Board of Governors, eventually serving as president of the association – and with JBA’s philanthropic activities. JBA is heavily involved in the Jacksonville community. In addition to supporting the Special Olympics, the association is involved in projects ranging from aiding foster children to providing legal aid for the homeless to making it easier for Jacksonville kids to read classic literature.

Outside of JBA, Pickert is heavily involved with a nonprofit organization known as the HEAL Foundation which seeks to inspire, educate, and fund services for those affected by autism. In 2003, Pickert began representing clients with autistic children and soon became aware of the lack of programs available in the area for autistic children and families. Pickert, and a group of other determined individuals, helped create HEAL (an acronym for Heal Every Autistic Life) to fill that niche.

HEAL started as a small organization, but has grown to create an enormous impact within its community. The foundation’s first fundraiser earned just $400 net; over the past 10 years, it has raised almost $2 million. Fundraising efforts support summer camps, sports leagues, support groups, and educational seminars. The foundation also supplies iPads to aid in the education of non-verbal students and service dogs for those with special sensory needs.

Pickert has encouraged his own four children to get involved with the organization as well. He explained, “Helping the community has an altruistic effect, but also gives you great perspective in life – there is a big world out there.”

For lawyers, Pickert argues a different reason why they should get more involved in their communities and organizations like HEAL. “A lawyer’s job is to help people.” If a client contacts a lawyer, it is because he or she needs help in some way. “Volunteering is just taking what lawyers do in the office every day and extending it to the rest of the world.”

Learn more about HEAL at www.healautismnow.org and keep reading the Trial Lawyers Care website for information on other volunteer opportunities.

Posted on June 28, 2017 at 8:26 pm in Community Outreach, General by Marie D'Avignon - RSS 2.0

Finding Closure for Victims of Tragic Fire

On February 20, 2003, a catastrophic fire at the Station nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island, killed 100 people and injured more than 200 others. In May of this year, the surviving victims and their families came together to honor their memories at the opening of a memorial park.

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The Station Fire Memorial Park, standing on the same site as the catastrophic fire, was formally opened Sunday, May 21, at a gathering of 500 survivors, family members, and community leaders. In addition to multiple gardens and a courtyard, the one-acre park includes stone monuments inscribed with the names and birthdays of each victim.

The Station fire was the fourth deadliest nightclub fire in U.S. history, with former Rhode Island Governor Don Carcieri describing it as the “state’s worst tragedy.” As AAJ member and Rhode Island attorney Mark Mandell explains, “Rhode Island is a small state; there aren’t that many degrees of separation among its residents, and the fire just devastated Rhode Island and people from surrounding states as well.”

Mandell’s firm, Mandell, Schwartz, & Boisclair, Ltd., teamed up with other plaintiff firms to lead the litigation in the civil case surrounding the fire. The case served to provide a sense of closure that the victims and their families weren’t able to receive from criminal prosecution. The fire forever changed the lives of those involved; in a positive way, so did the lawsuit.

The opening of the memorial park is another step toward that closure.

Spearheaded by the Station Fire Memorial Foundation and a woman named Gina Russo, a client of Mandell’s who lost her fiancé and suffered severe injuries in the fire, the opening of the memorial park involved more than a decade of planning and difficult fundraising. In the end, several different groups came together to support the cause. The memorial park now serves as a beautiful place to remember those who were lost.

To make a donation toward continued maintenance of the Station Fire Memorial Park, please visit: http://www.thestationfirememorialfoundation.org/.

station park2

Posted on June 27, 2017 at 1:48 pm in Community Outreach, General by Marie D'Avignon - RSS 2.0

Standing Up for Warriors

Trial Lawyers for Warriors is a nonprofit organization that assists U.S. special forces, including Navy SEALs, Delta Force, Green Berets, and Army Rangers — as well as other military personnel. P. Craig Morrow, senior partner at Morrow, Morrow, Ryan, Bassett, & Haik in Opelousas, La., founded the organization.

Initially, he simply wanted to take some special operations personnel hunting and fishing with him to give them a break.

Morrow still takes military personnel hunting and fishing, but he also represents them pro bono and helps them and their families in other ways — such as buying plane tickets so that family members can be with their wounded warrior at a hospital.

morrow2-min

Now called the “Legal SEAL” by some special ops personnel, Morrow gained some clout when he stuck up for veterans at a town hall meeting about the Gulf Coast oil spill. Some veterans asked Morrow to attend, and he saw how they were being mistreated. “I almost didn’t stand up,” he said, but then he decided he needed to speak up. “I grilled this BP rep, and I got a standing ovation.”

Morrow has helped members of the military in various ways, including stopping predatory lenders from taking advantage of military personnel while they were away at war in Iraq and Afghanistan because they couldn’t afford to hire a lawyer; helping someone get his Purple Heart; defending a Marine who was falsely accused of a crime in Afghanistan; and drafting legal LLC documents to help people start their own companies.

“I felt that if these warriors were willing to sacrifice their lives and fight for our freedoms on the battlefield, then why shouldn’t I use my unique legal skills and help them in the legal battlefield we call the courtroom?” Morrow said. “I feel that trial lawyers have a unique skill set that we can and should use to protect and defend the warriors who protect and defend our way of life in America.”

Morrow represents some of the SEALs portrayed in the movies Lone Survivor and American Sniper. “They trust me, and I will say it was difficult at first because of the false propaganda spewed against our profession as trial lawyers,” Morrow said. “And I have personally witnessed a complete turnaround from countless military warriors that are now defending trial lawyers through social media.”

Morrow sees this chance to fight negative lawyer stereotypes as a secondary benefit of his efforts. “Trial Lawyers are in a helping profession, and, in my opinion, it is time to turn the tables and demonstrate that we are the good guys and not the people that our critics make us out to be.”

Trial Lawyers for Warriors has also collaborated with the organization Suiting Warriors to give veterans suits to wear to their first job interviews. “I was amazed at how almost none of our veterans had a nice suit to wear to a job interview,” Morrow said. “Who do you know that has more suits than trial lawyers?!”

“Founding Trial Lawyers for Warriors has given me an enormous sense of pride and inner peace in knowing that I am helping those who protect and defend our very freedoms — including the practice of law,” Morrow said.

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Learn more about this organization at www.triallawyersforwarriors.org.

Posted on June 26, 2017 at 4:46 pm in Community Outreach, General by Marie D'Avignon - RSS 2.0

Passion for Justice: Resources to Help Detained Immigrants

Please check back regularly as this content is occasionally updated with new information. Last update: June 2018.

Policy changes under the new administration have led to a new and complicated immigration environment in the United States. One of the biggest effects we are seeing, is an increase in deportations and a lack of constitutional protections for detained immigrants. Many AAJ members have expressed concerns over this new dynamic and asked how they can help.

To begin, you can join the Immigration Justice Campaign and the fight to ensure a fair day in court for detained immigrants. With only 14% having legal representation, TLC members have the skills to help meet this need. From writing a legal brief from the convenience of your office, to being part of a team at a detention center, the Campaign offers pro bono opportunities for attorneys of every background. Training, mentorship, and technical assistance are provided. Sign up today!

After signing up with the Justice Campaign, there are three main ways trial lawyers can help:

  • In person – Volunteers can sign up to provide legal services in person at detention centers across the country. After you sign up as a volunteer, you can access a list of in person opportunities, including the Dilley Pro Bono Project.
  • Remote – Volunteers who are unable to travel can provide remote services including representing immigrants at bond hearings, providing telephonic translation services, conducting country condition research for asylum seekers, and more. (Non-lawyers may also help in many of the remote roles.)
  • Donate – Members can make donations to support the Justice Campaign’s legal services and training programs.

 

TLC has compiled a list of additional resources and volunteer opportunities below for anyone who would like to lend a hand or learn more about the issues.

Resources:

  • Through the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), you can sign up to be a volunteer or mentor in specific legal areas and receive training specific to immigration cases.
  • AILA’s Immigration 2017 webpage is a one-stop-shop for legal and policy analyses of the recent executive actions on immigration.
  • AILA and the American Bar Association have teamed up to encourage lawyers to stop “Notario Fraud” – individuals who falsely represent themselves as qualified to offer legal advice, often taking advantage of immigrants. The Stop Notario Fraud website provides legal resources to help prevent fraud at both the federal and state levels. They also provide resources for attorney and law enforcement and training materials including recorded webinars.
  • Stay up-to-date on legal and political actions related to immigration with AILA’s Immigration Politics Ticker.

Volunteer Opportunities:

  • The Immigration Advocates Network has a Pro Bono Resource Center with a state-by-state map of organizations looking for pro bono volunteers and a calendar of upcoming trainings by state.
  • Advocates for Human Rights has a volunteer program with details on their take action page.
  • Volunteer opportunity in Georgia: The 1,800-bed Stewart Detention Center (run by private prison company CoreCivic) in Lumpkin, Georgia, is one of the largest – and most underserved – immigration detention centers in the country. The Detention Watch Network has written this report on this notorious facility, as part of its “Expose and Close” campaign. Volunteer lawyers will be doing intake, case/litigation prep, and bond hearings. Contact AILA for more information.
  • Volunteer opportunity in Texas: The Dilley Pro Bono Project needs volunteers to help represent detained immigrant children and their mothers – most of whom have fled horrific violence in Central America – at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, TX. The detention of these families is a shameful policy, and AILA has been at the forefront of advocacy to end family detention once and for all. Resources and background information on this fight can be found here. More than 20,000 children and mothers have been represented through the volunteer efforts in Dilley. If you are interested in volunteering, please email the project’s volunteer coordinator Crystal Massey at crystal@caraprobono.org. To learn more about additional opportunities to volunteer at a second family detention center in Karnes, TX, please see the CARA Family Detention Project

Thank you for your support!

Posted on June 15, 2017 at 1:40 pm in Community Outreach, General by Marie D'Avignon - RSS 2.0

West Virginia Continues to Rebuild After Devastating Floods

It’s been just over two months since devastating floods in West Virginia killed 23 people and left thousands more homeless. The hardest-hit communities are struggling to rebuild. They could use our help.

A series of catastrophic storms pounded the state on June 23, dumping up to a foot of rain in some areas over a 12-hour period. State streams and rivers rose rapidly, burying communities under several feet of water, debris, and mud. FEMA declared eight counties federal disaster areas. The National Weather Service called it a “one-in-1,000-year event.”

West Virginia AAJ members pitched in to help their communities, spending the days after the floods digging out homes and roads, providing food and shelter for displaced residents, hosting fundraisers for local relief efforts, and even providing legal assistance. But, much more needs to be done, and we can’t forget those who are still fighting to rebuild.

This unprecedented flooding affected hundreds of homes that are not within flood plains, so most homeowners were without flood insurance and have lost everything. Many of those affected were already struggling to provide for their families. They had little to no savings or existing lines of credit that can help them rebuild. Entire neighborhoods were washed away and have been replaced by tent cities—and winter is just months away.

We encourage you to find ways to help West Virginians rebuild, and have included some organizations for you to consider supporting. Be sure to designate each donation for the “June 2016 West Virginia Floods.”

  • Mountain Mission’s The HOPE Project (1620 7th Ave., Charleston, WV) is dedicated to helping people in Kanawha County rebuild homes damaged by the floods. You can learn more at mountainmission.com/flood-relief/.
  • Save the Children worked in three counties directly affected by the flooding and continues to provide health and early education programs for children across the state. You can learn more at Savethechildren.org.
  • The Greater Greenbrier Valley Community Foundation and the Country Roads Recover Project is working with local citizens, business leaders, relief organizations, and government agencies to rebuild communities destroyed by the floods. Please visit countryroadsrf.org to learn more.
  • Local community foundations are also accepting donations. The Nicholas County Community Foundation, the Hinton Area Foundation, and the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation can all use our support.
  • You can also support the Red Cross by texting “WV FLOODS” to 90999 to make a $10 donation or donate to the Salvation Army.
  • And, please help our furry friends by supporting the Greenbrier Humane Society. Learn more at greenbrierhumane.org.

Thank you for all your support!

Posted on August 31, 2016 at 8:08 pm in Community Outreach, General by admin - RSS 2.0

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