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Local Law Firms Join LACBA to Help Veterans

Miguel is an honorably discharged veteran of the United States Navy who worked as a gunners mate, and was deployed several times from West Africa to Central America. He distinguished himself, earned several awards and commendations, and was the USS Yorktown Sailor of the Year.

After his discharge, Miguel struggled to hold a job. Several times he found himself without stable or permanent housing, including at the time of his citations.

Miguel hoped to remove any encumbrances or holds on his license. When he sought help from the LACBA Veterans Legal Services Project, he had recently gained employment in VOIP/Telecomm sales but was living in temporary veterans housing. Without a valid driver’s license, Miguel was unable to advance in his position and improve his living situation. 

With help from Project volunteers, Miguel was able to clear two of his three outstanding citations. He received community service for the final citation and is confident he will soon overcome all remaining barriers to reobtaining his license.

The Project, located at Patriotic Hall in downtown Los Angeles, assists veterans with removing legal barriers to employment in three areas: resolving ticket and warrants; clearing criminal records; and reinstating driver licenses. The Project provides thousands of hours of pro bono legal services thanks to the commitment of many area law firms and corporate legal departments. To highlight a few of these dedicated firms:

Foley & Mansfield—Partner and pro bono coordinator Louis Klein has marshalled the firm’s attorneys to “headline” the veterans’ legal clinic three times in the past two years. Each clinic sees a group of approximately 30 veterans who bring, on average, five outstanding matters each—tickets or criminal convictions, or both. “For the last one and half years, Foley & Mansfield, PLLP has had the distinct honor of joining with LACBA’s Veterans Legal Services Project to sponsor two yearly legal clinics for veterans.  Each of our attorneys who have participated has come away from the clinic with a greater sense of gratitude for those who have served this country and are now in need of our help. That is exactly why Foley & Mansfield participates—to help those who have given so much of themselves to protect us and this country. Each time we prepare for a clinic, we look forward with anticipation to assisting Andrew Culberson and the clinic staff. Each time we do, we come away feeling rewarded for our small efforts.  Many of our attorneys have told me that the clinics take them away from their offices, from their day-to-day grind, to a room that matters even more. We are grateful for the opportunity we have had and look forward to continuing our work with the Project.”           

Lou has recently become a member of the LACBA Armed Forces Committee (AFC) and will be instrumental in raising funds to support the Project. Foley & Mansfield has been an outstanding partner with LACBA, supporting veterans not only with their strong pro bono contributions, but also with significant financial support as well.

Proskauer—Led by Colleen Hart, Proskauer partner and LACBA Counsel for Justice Board Member, Proskauer attorneys have “headlined” three clinics at Patriotic Hall, in addition to providing substantial financial support to the Project.

The Project provided Colleen with a great opportunity to get her colleagues at Proskauer’s Los Angeles office involved in the firm’s commitment to supporting veterans through its corporate social responsibility and pro bono programs. A veteran herself, Ms. Hart stated, “The Project is doing important work to empower veterans to remove barriers to employment by resolving issues such as outstanding warrants and traffic tickets. These legal issues—even those that are relatively minor—can show up on a background check and make it difficult for veterans to obtain work. Our Proskauer volunteers had the opportunity to see first-hand how a relatively small commitment of time and service can have an enormous impact on the lives of our veterans.”

Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliff—Mike Owens, a managing associate at Orrick has been a leader with the Project since its inception, is an active AFC member, and has taken on a leadership role in coordinating the pro bono efforts of the Project and AFC. Since 2014, he has attended nearly every clinic where he now mentors new pro bono attorneys and assists with logistics and organization. Mike’s efforts earned him the Hon. Benjamin Aranda III Outstanding Public Service Award in 2016. In addition, an Orrick partner is an active clinic volunteer while also lending his time for case management duty at LACBA. The firm is clearly committed to assisting veterans in our community and has provided significant financial support to the Project as well.

Gibson Dunn and Crutcher—Led by Gibson Dunn Partner and past LACBA President Linda Curtis, the firm, which was one of the earliest proponents of the Project, has continued its involvement and support by headlining the clinic twice, making a significant contribution and providing leadership to AFC. Jimmy Santiago from Gibson Dunn is a recent addition to AFC, and long-time volunteer at the clinics. A Navy veteran himself, his enthusiasm, knowledge and ability to personally connect with the veterans seeking assistance have made him an invaluable member of the team. Gibson Dunn’s support over the years has enabled the Project to grow and increase its services to help veterans in our community.

In 2015, the Project helped more than 450 veterans with 300 volunteers providing over 1,880 pro bono hours valued at nearly $560,000. 

November is the month when we focus on our country’s veterans. We thank all of the volunteers and generous contributors who have supported the Project and so greatly impacted the lives of these brave men and women.