July 30, 2014

Community Action Network School Supply Drive Starts July 21!

School Supply Drive Flyer(1)Each year, the Community Action Network holds a school supply drive to benefit the Denver Public Schools Educational Outreach Program, which provides assistance to homeless children in the Denver Public School System, including school supplies, breakfast and lunch assistance, uniforms, and more.

This year’s school supply drive starts Monday, July 21, 2014 and will run through Friday, August 1, 2014. Barrels for school supply donations have been set up in the lobby of the CBA/DBA and CLE offices at 1900 Grant Street on the 3rd and 9th floors. Donations may be dropped off from Firms may also participate in the drive by collecting school supplies in easy-to-carry boxes at their offices; Ricoh will pick up the boxes the week of August 4.

Items needed for this year’s drive include:

  • Backpacks of all sizes;
  • Pencils, pens, crayons, and markers;
  • Binders, notebooks, folders, and paper;
  • Scissors, rulers, staplers, staples, glue, and glue sticks;
  • Pencil cases;
  • Scientific calculators, compasses, protractors, and geometry sets;
  • Dictionaries and thesauruses;
  • Navy and red polo shirts in all kids’ sizes;
  • And more!

For information on firm donations, click here or contact Alexa Drago or Kate Schuster.

Denver DA Mitch Morrissey is Keynote Speaker at the 16th Annual Senior Law Day on July 19

Layout 1Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey is the keynote speaker for this year’s 16th Annual Denver Senior Law Day. As the chief prosecutor in Denver, he is responsible for the prosecution of more than 6,000 felony and 18,000 misdemeanor criminal cases every year, and is a staunch advocate for fraud prevention and education in the Denver community.

With incredible resources and educational workshops, this event is not only for seniors in the community, but also valuable for adult children and caregivers who are helping aging parents, relatives, or friends. The event is from 8:00 a.m. to 1:20 p.m. on Saturday, July 19 at the Denver Mart.

The 16th Annual Senior Law Day offers the public the opportunity to hear from experienced elder law attorneys and other professionals involved in elder care issues.  This year there are thirty-three unique, informative workshops to choose from that will help seniors learn how to better manage family and financial issues and prepare for retirement.

Workshops this year include “How Hospice and Palliative Care Can Save Your Life,” “Aging in Place – Maintaining Your Independence at Home,” “ Assisted Living and Nursing Home Issues,” “ Estate Planning: Wills, Trusts & Your Property,” “ Hanging Up the Car Keys for Good,” “ Living Wills, Advance Medical Directives, DNR Orders, Proxies, and End of Life Issues,” “Medicaid and Medicare 101,” “ Planning For Your Pets,” “Powers of Attorney and Guardianship & Conservatorship,” “ Social Security,” “To Marry or Not to Marry—That is the Question,” “ VA Benefits,” and “ What to do When Someone Dies.”

Attendees are also available to meet with an attorney at the “Ask-A-Lawyer” Session, a free 15-minute meeting with an attorney to ask about elder law and trust and estate issues. For more information on this and a full list of workshops, go to http://www.seniorlawday.org/denver.

Much of the content presented at Denver Senior Law Day also can be found in the comprehensive 2014 Senior Law Handbook, which is distributed free at the event. The Senior Law Handbook is supported through the generous contributions from organizations and law firms, including Rose Community Foundation—an organization that supports efforts to improve the quality of life throughout the Greater Denver community through its endowed grantmaking programs, and by advising and assisting donors who wish to make thoughtful charitable investments to better the community.

A $10 contribution is suggested but not required to attend the event. Registration is requested; call (303) 860-0608 or dial toll-free (888) 860-2531, or go online to register at  www.seniorlawday.org and click on the “Denver” tab. Business vendors and potential exhibitors should contact Sherrill Wolf at (303) 860-0608.

Full details on the event are available at  www.seniorlawday.org/denver.

Fostering Success Legal Clinic — Why MVL is Addressing the Needs of Foster Kids!

By Peggy Hoyt-Hock, MVL Board Member

Foster Children. . . What comes to mind when you read this term? When I think of foster children, I tend to visualize something out of Oliver Twist . . . a group of young kids, hanging together, with little supervision. Then of course, I think of Jane Eyre, Annie or Harry Potter. Upon further reflection, I recall a few friends and acquaintances,who have on occasion mentioned that when young, they were fostered until perhaps being adopted or otherwise growing into successful, professional adults.

Then, consider this statistic: In the US, just over 30 percent of typical kids obtain a bachelor’s degree by age 25. When compared to children from the foster care system this number drops to two percent! Until writing this blog, I was unaware of the gap; honestly never giving the topic much thought. This difference presents just one example of the significant challenges children who age-out of the foster system must face.

The phone call came out of the blue. A professional young attorney, in fact an MVL Rovira Scholar introduced herself. “I am calling to ask you to serve as a volunteer for the first MVL Fostering Success Legal Clinic in July.” I asked her to tell me more about it. In the course of our conversation, I confirmed my commitment and discovered that Leeah Lechuga had direct personal experience with the foster care system.

If time would allow, we would both place individual calls to each good hearted attorney we know asking them to volunteer for this new Fostering Success Legal Clinic. Since neither of us have time, we are publishing this blog.

MVL has been fortunate to have had our recent Rovira Scholar, Leeah Lechuga. She reached out to share some of the challenges faced by an individual who ages-out of the foster care system. Leeah is a young and dynamic Colorado attorney, who recently left MVL for a Clerkship in the 18th Judicial District. If you happen to see her there, please join us in thanking her for arranging to have MVL partner with others to establish the new MVL“Fostering Success Legal Clinic.”

Snippets of the interview follow:

Peg, Q: You have personal experience with having to navigate the system. Can you share what it was like?

Leeah, A: My experience with my only out-of-home placement was wonderful. My foster parents made my experience with the system transformative.

It was the other systems that were difficult, after I aged out — student financial aid, finding an apartment, buying a car — I felt lost and incompetent constantly. I also felt lost in other ways, particularly recognizing the value in healthy relationships and building a healthy community. That is so important, but it took me a long time to get here.

Peg, Q: What can you tell the attorneys who read this blog, and may consider volunteering for this clinic — particularly those who may not have volunteered with MVL before — with regard to specific knowledge, skills, or experience they need?

Leeah, A: Attorneys, your willingness to be there is the biggest thing.

It is followed closely by a willingness to be an open book. Most of the legal issues won’t be complex. But you never know what seemingly trivial answer will unlock a whole new level of understanding and way of thinking for these young people. Something you say may connect with something that was said or overheard in a previous encounter. You can be transformative.

If you have not signed up to help with this clinic yet, please do so now. Let’s see how many lives the “Fostering Success Legal Clinic” can help transform over time! If you are interested, please contact diannev@denbar.org.

This article originally appeared on the MVL blog on July 3, 2014.

DBA Awards Reception on June 26 – All Are Invited!

GabrielThe Denver Bar Association is hosting a reception on Thursday, June 26, 2014 to honor its 2014 award recipients. Judge Richard L. Gabriel received the Award of Merit, the highest honor bestowed by the DBA. Judge Dennis A. Graham received the Judicial Excellence Award for his exemplary judicial service. Ilene Lin Bloom received the DBA Volunteer Lawyer of the Year Award, given to an attorney who proudly provides outstanding services to the community. Margrit Lent Parker received the Young Lawyer of the Year Award, recognizing her achievements as a young lawyer.

Everyone is welcome to attend the award reception on Thursday, June 26, 2014 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Ralph L. Carr Judicial Center. RSVP online, by emailing lunches@cobar.org, or by calling (303) 860-1115, ext. 727.

Workers’ Comp Section Recognizes John Sbarbaro for Outstanding Achievement

sbarbaroThe Colorado Bar Association Workers’ Compensation Section held its Annual Dinner on Thursday, June 12 at Maggiano’s in Denver. The Dinner included the presentation of the Lance Butler Award to section member John Sbarbaro. The Lance Butler Award is given annually to an attorney for outstanding service, dedication, and commitment to the field of Colorado Workers’ Compensation Law. This celebrated honor is bestowed after nomination from within the Workers’ Compensation Executive Council, based upon an attorney’s contribution to the Workers’ Compensation system. Among the speakers at the dinner were Michael Kaplan, Tom Kanan and Neil O’Toole.

Wheels of Justice Kicks Off Ninth Year in Courage Classic

WOJThe DBA and CBA sponsored Wheels of Justice Cycling Team hosted their kick-off event on Thursday, June 5, 2014 at the Denver Post building. The team, comprised of attorneys and non-attorneys who participate in the Courage Classic, gathered to celebrate the start of training and fundraising for the three-day, 157-mile cycling tour through the Rockies benefits Children’s Hospital Colorado.  In the past eight years, the Wheels of Justice has raised just under $2 million for Children’s Hospital Colorado, directing its funds to the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.

More than 70 people were in attendance and speakers included team captain Heather Leja, Dr. Tom Smith, and his former Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders (CCBD) patient Michaela Hennig who told her story. When she was 3, Michaela was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma on her leg and underwent more than a year of aggressive chemo, radiation, and surgery.  Today, Michaela is an active and poised 26-year-old who is getting ready to climb her first fourteener.  She said that she’s grateful not just for the terrific medical care but also for the way the CCBD allowed her to “just be a kid” through all of the challenges. Because of the incredibly positive spirit and great care at the CCBD, most of her memories of that time are very positive.

There is still time to register for the Courage Classic – click here to registerTo see the excellent publicity and benefits available to Wheels of Justice Team sponsors, please e-mail info@wheelsofjusticecycling.org.

Support the Legal Aid Foundation

LAF logoLegal aid assures fairness for all in our justice system, regardless of how much money someone has.  It provides access to legal help for people to protect their health and safety, their livelihoods or other means of support, and their families. Your donation today will help provide timely access to legal aid for those who have nowhere else to turn. The Legal Aid Foundation’s 2013-14 Campaign For Justice concludes on June 30th so there is still time to make a difference in someone’s life. Make a tax-deductible donation today at www.legalaidfoundation.org.

Colorado Lawyers for Colorado Veterans Honored as DBA Outstanding Program

This is Part 2 of a series of posts about the DBA Award winners (for Part 1, click here; for Part 2, click here; for Part 3, click here; for Part 4, click here; and for Part 5, click here). The article originally appeared in the May 2014 issue of The Docket.

When John Vaught returned home from Vietnam, something was missing: support from his fellow Americans.

Fast forward decades and a law school education later to Vaught’s involvement with Colorado Lawyers for Colorado Veterans (CLCV). Determined to provide the support he didn’t get for those who have served our country, Vaught approached Mark Fogg (then CBA President) about creating a veterans affairs program. As it turns out, Chief Justice Bender was working on a similar idea. So, several factors and ideas converged, and Vaught and Ben Currier, the CBA YLD Chair at the time, were tasked with getting CLCV started.

Their immediate mission was to form clinics around the state where CBA volunteer lawyers could meet with veterans who needed legal assistance but couldn’t afford it. Now, there are nine clinics around Colorado, and the initial program concept has expanded to form the CBA Military & Veterans Affairs Section. The members of that section are responsible not only for maintaining and improving the clinics, but also for developing other ways to help veterans in the community.

Since its inception in 2011, the CLCV clinics have served more than 400 veterans and assigned 175 pro bono cases to volunteer lawyers. Common legal topics addressed include VA benefits, landlord–tenant issues and domestic issues. Lawyers across the state have been instrumental in volunteering their time to participate in these clinics and help veterans. Sometimes, all that’s needed is 15 minutes of advice or legal direction, while other times a pro bono case or reduced-free relationship is arranged. Any way you look at it, CLCV is a highly valuable program that’s helping to unite our community.

“There’s a huge satisfaction in helping,” Vaught says, “in reaching out to these people and saying ‘I get it, I understand what you’ve been through. I welcome you home and want to try to help you in a real way.”

Volunteers Needed for Denver Public Schools Adult Self-Sufficiency Programs

The Mile High United Way, Denver Public Schools, and the Denver Bar Association are collaborating to implement Adult Self-Sufficiency service programs for the Denver Public School community. DPS has chosen to implement the Adult Self-Sufficiency programs to ensure that families receive the services they need to be economically self-sufficient and support their children’s learning. Each program site is picked based on high-need neighborhoods where a greater-than-average percentage of families qualify for free- and reduced-price lunch. Studies have shown that parental or guardian financial instability and family mobility because of financial instability often make it difficult for students to stay on track academically.

The first program site will be College View Elementary at 2675 South Decatur Street in Denver.  We are looking for family law attorneys to provide a 20 minute phone consultation on domestic issues to parents at College View Elementary. For more information, contact Meghan Bush at (303) 824-5303 or mbush@cobar.org.

Craig Dehning of Skinner Middle School and Theresa Storto of Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy Awarded DBA Education in the Legal System Award

This is Part 2 of a series of posts about the DBA Award winners (for Part 1, click here; for Part 2, click here; for Part 3, click here; for Part 4, click here). The article originally appeared in the May 2014 issue of The Docket.

EDUCATION IN THE LEGAL SYSTEM AWARD WINNER:
CRAIG DEHNING, SKINNER MIDDLE SCHOOL

“It’s critically important that we teach civics in 8th grade because they’re not necessarily getting it later. It’s the foundation of law.”

Craig Dehning, an 8th grade U.S. History teacher at Skinner Middle School, is serious when it comes to shaping the future generation. He explains that for many, the last year of middle school is the only time kids will learn about the Constitution in Denver Public Schools. There is an elective civics class in high school, but it isn’t mandatory. And, the high school where many of his kids continue on has a shockingly high drop-out rate. So, he takes every chance he can get to impact their education.

“It’s so important for the kids to have some idea about the beginning of our country, the creation of the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights—among others,” Dehning says.

Although he was almost a lawyer, Dehning has clearly found his knack in teaching. His voice fills with enthusiasm when describing the value of showing kids how success feels. His favorite part of teaching is seeing the learning curve—how those kids take that knowledge and become confident. Dehning encourages his students to always ask questions, explaining: “Learning comes from questioning.”

Praising the “We the People” program, Dehning says that it’s a really great way for kids to dive into the Constitution and learn more about legal topics, such as the structure of our government and the Fifth Amendment. He hopes that more schools will become involved in it in the future.

“We need to make sure the foundation of our government and society is taught to kids,” Dehning says.

EDUCATION IN THE LEGAL SYSTEM AWARD WINNER:
THERESA STORTO, KUNSMILLER CREATIVE ARTS ACADEMY

Typically, growing up means learning from your mistakes.

That same idea is often applied—in a more general sense—to education. The more students learn about the past, the better they can shape the future. Eighth-grade social studies teacher Theresa Storto believes this is a critical aspect of her history curriculum. She teaches the students at Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy that to improve the future, you have to understand the past.

An important part of Storto’s social studies teaching plan is the “We the People” program. She encourages her students to participate in Mock Congressional Hearings each year, where they become experts in parts of the Constitution.

“They’re the future and they need to know the Constitution to understand that they do have power,” Storto explains, “so that they can make the changes they feel are necessary for a better world.”

Along with the legal knowledge, students also gain confidence in their expertise and abilities throughout the program. Storto says that showing kids how they can make a difference is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a teacher. She strives to always provide them with inspiration and hope for the future—and the courage to believe in who they are and what they can do.

Ilene Lin Bloom Receives DBA Volunteer of the Year Award

IleneLinBloom

This is Part 4 of a series of posts about the DBA Award winners (for Part 1, click here; for Part 2, click here; for Part 3, click here). The article originally appeared in the May 2014 issue of The Docket.

“I hope we can reach a point where volunteering is just a part of a lawyer’s practice, and not out of the ordinary.”

Ilene Lin Bloom is very grateful to be honored as the Denver Bar Association’s Volunteer of the Year, and she’s also hopeful that in the future a greater number of attorneys will take on volunteer projects. She wants to inspire other lawyers to integrate volunteering and pro bono into their practice and everyday legal lives.

Bloom refutes the excuse “I don’t have enough time.” As an attorney, volunteer, wife, mother and former DBA President, she does it all. In fact, during her 2011–12 presidency, Bloom worked to increase pro bono education within the community, and strove to help lawyers find room for volunteering on their list of priorities.

An enthusiastic activist, Bloom attended school knowing she wanted to help children through the law. She went through a first-of-its-kind Child Law program at Loyola Law School in Chicago, and trained to advocate on behalf of abused and neglected children.

Since moving to Denver, Bloom has been consistently involved in the DBA. She chaired the DBA Legal Services Committee for seven years and served on the Access to Justice Commission, testifying as a commissioner in state hearings. She helps administer Legal Nights at El Centro, and recently increased her community involvement by chairing a silent auction for the local charity WeeCycle.

Bloom is the current co-chair of the Fit to Practice Task Force as well, channeling her energy into promoting a healthy lifestyle for the local legal community and making the DBA more relevant to its members.

“It’s very important for lawyers to be physically fit,” Bloom explains. “It helps them be mentally fit and it helps their happiness levels and their ability to step away from the practice of law and create a work–life balance.”

Finding a healthy life balance is vital for all professionals —and lawyers are no exception. Bloom notes that the happiest lawyers she’s met are those who are able to manage their professional aspirations, their health and their family as best as possible. In other words, follow Bloom’s impressive example.

Volunteers Needed for Clinic on Collecting Child Support

The DBA Access to Justice Committee will be providing a training for the presenters of the newly created “How to Collect Child Support” public clinic. This clinic is a great way to get involved with the Denver community, gather information, and teach basic techniques for collecting support. The child support collections training will be on June 13 from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the CBA offices, 1900 Grant St., 9th floor. One CLE credit available. Contact Meghan Bush to register.