News / USA

    Concept of ‘Free Legal Help’ Gains Ground in US

    Concept of ‘Free Legal Help’ Gains Ground in USi
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    August 18, 2014 3:10 PM
    Lawyers who offer free legal help for their clients are commonly called "pro bono" lawyers. In recent years, there has been a growing number of law firms that do pro bono work. Elizabeth Lee explains the growing trend for VOA from Los Angeles.

    Lawyers who offer free legal help for their clients are commonly called "pro bono" lawyers.  In recent years, there has been a growing number of law firms in the United States that do pro bono work. Among the trend-setters is the city of Los Angeles.  

    A 65-year-old woman, who identified herself only as Linda, says she has been fighting for a year to get guardianship of her grandnephew, Michael.

    ”Because of the abuse that was occurring and the neglect, and I tried many times to get guardianship through the courts and to no avail,” says Linda of her ordeal.

    Then she found Bet Tzedek, an organization that provides free legal help to those who can’t afford a lawyer.  Bet Tzedek’s staff connected Linda with pro bono lawyers from a large law firm, and they represented her.  After a year of fighting, Linda won guardianship of Michael.

    “I was kind of numb for a while and until I said, my goodness it happened. It finally happened. Now he’s with me. Now I can go home and say to Michael, we have a home, Michael,” said Linda.

    A growing number of lawyers, many from prestigious law firms, offer free help for needy clients, says David Lash, of the law firm O’Melveny & Myers.  

    “The last 10 years has seen a substantial growth in pro bono participation among lawyers,” says Lash.

    O’Melveny & Myers handles anything from corporate law to intellectual property law.  It also has a robust pro bono program worldwide.  

    “The notion is burgeoning and growing. We’re doing a lot of pro bono work through our office in London and Brussels and lawyers in our Hong Kong and Singapore and Beijing offices are getting more and more involved in pro bono pursuits,” says Lash.

    Lash spends his workday talking to the community and organizations that offer free legal help to the needy.  He also reviews pro bono cases for his firm.

    His outreach efforts included a meeting with Bet Tzedek’s pro bono director, Diego Cartagena.  The topic: how to offer free legal help to the children coming to the United States from Central America.

    “We anticipate there will be hundreds of cases involving these children coming through the next few months,” said Cartagena.

    After this meeting, Lash got on a conference call with lawyers and advocates in another state to give advice about legal issues with immigrants.  Then, he went off to speak to a new intern about pro bono work.

    Lash says there are many reasons law firms offer free legal help.

    “In order to really maintain a competitive edge, major law firms really need to have vibrant pro bono programs. They’re invaluable ways to train young lawyers; they are great recruiting tools when we’re all interviewing at the top law schools,” says Lash.

    Lash says giving people access to justice is what democracy is all about.

    “It’s a magnificent feeling to use your skills and your profession to touch somebody’s life in a really profound way,” says Lash.  

    Linda, who got custody of Michael thanks to a pro bono lawyer, agrees.

    “They made us feel special. They didn’t make us feel like we were basically [recipients of] a handout.”

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora