December 16, 2017

Colorado Gives: Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center Compassionately Transforms the Lives of Abused and Neglected Children

Colorado Gives: CBA CLE Legal Connection is focusing on several legal charities in honor of Colorado Gives Day, December 5, 2017. These charities, and many, many others, greatly appreciate your donations of time and money.

childrens-law-center-logo-gFor over thirty-five years, the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center has provided compassionate legal advocacy and clinical services to children who have been abused or neglected. Through a team of legal professionals and social workers, the Children’s Law Center serves at-risk children and considers the whole child with each recommendation regarding the child’s best interest.

The Children’s Law Center also works for public policy change, working to make children a political priority at the local, state, and national levels. The Children’s Law Center has made great progress in this area. They created the first Colorado Child Protection Ombudsman Program, promoted a 2013 Senate Bill to reduce the number of child abuse fatalities in the state, promoted a 2013 House Bill to streamline the process to report child abuse, and much more.

The Children’s Law Center has several programs devoted to legal advocacy for children. The Education Program promotes the adoption of policies and procedures in the schools and legislature to recognize the impact of trauma on children’s learning behaviors, reduce school transfers for children in the child protection system, and redirect children in the school disciplinary system from the school-to-prison pipeline. The Children’s Law Center also has a caregiver advocacy program, a domestic violence program, a trauma-informed yoga program, and a therapeutic garden.

The Children’s Law Center relies on donations to continue providing compassionate legal advocacy to abused, neglected, and at-risk children. Their annual operating expenses total over one million dollars per year. Donate on Colorado Gives Day by clicking here or any day by filling out the form on this webpage.

Colorado Gives: Disability Law Colorado Recognizes the Inherent Value of All People and Embraces Empowerment

Colorado Gives: CBA CLE Legal Connection will be focusing on several Colorado legal charities this week in honor of Colorado Gives Day— Tuesday, December 5, 2017. These charities, and many, many others, greatly appreciate your donations of time and money.

Disability Law Colorado (formerly known as The Legal Center for People with Disabilities and Older People) was created in 1976 out of the dream of a small group of parents who came together to secure equal rights for their children with developmental disabilities who were living in state institutions. These parents wanted a better life for their children and believed that all people with disabilities deserved the right to live full and rewarding lives. Disability Law Colorado’s early successes included requiring school districts to pay for children’s education in public schools, allowing children with severe disabilities to attend school for the first time. Disability Law Colorado also succeeded in preventing sterilization of people with developmental disabilities and preventing workplace discrimination against people with disabilities.

In 1977, the governor designated Disability Law Colorado to be Colorado’s Protection and Advocacy (P&A) System for people with developmental disabilities. Today, Disability Law Colorado is recognized as a leader in the National Disability Rights Network made up of Protection and Advocacy programs from all the states and territories.

For Colorado Gives Day, Disability Law Colorado has a $15,000 fundraising goal. By donating through Colorado Gives, your gift will go further thanks to a $1 million dollar incentive fund. Click here to donate.

Colorado Gives: Metro Volunteer Lawyers Provides Representation to Low-income Coloradans

Colorado Gives: CBA CLE Legal Connection will be focusing on several Colorado legal charities this week in honor of Colorado Gives Day—Tuesday, December 5, 2017. These charities, and many, many others, greatly appreciate your donations of time and money.

MVL-50-Year-Logo (png) SmallerMetro Volunteer Lawyers (MVL) is a program of the Denver Bar Association and is co-sponsored by the Adams/Broomfield, Arapahoe, Douglas/Elbert, and First Judicial District Bar Associations. MVL is committed to bridging the gap of access to justice by providing pro bono legal services to people who could not otherwise afford legal assistance.

MVL offers pro bono opportunities to attorneys, especially in the areas of estate planning, guardianships and conservatorships, family law, and consumer law. By volunteering with MVL, attorneys can receive valuable experience while assisting Colorado’s most vulnerable populations with their legal needs. Under C.R.C.P. 260.8, Colorado attorneys providing uncompensated pro bono legal representation may apply for 1 general CLE credit for every 5 billable-equivalent hours of representation, up to a maximum of 9 credits in each 3 year compliance period.

Give your expertise, as well as supporting MVL with a cash donation. Click here to donate and/or submit an online application to volunteer.

Attorney Volunteers Needed for Hurricane Harvey Victims

The Colorado Bar Association extends its heartfelt sympathy and support to those affected by Hurricane Harvey. In light of the severity of the situation, the Texas Supreme Court has issued an order allowing attorneys licensed and in good standing in another U.S. jurisdiction to practice in Texas for six months so that they can volunteer their services to assist victims of this natural disaster. According to the ABA Journal, lawyers will be needed for disaster appeals with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to help people secure temporary housing, to get money for home repairs, and to deal with insurance claims. Click here for more information and to volunteer.

Out-of-state lawyers without practice-area expertise or the time to handle cases may consider donating money to area legal services groups, particularly Lone Star Legal Aid. Lone Star Legal Aid suffered a double blow from the hurricane when their flood-damaged Houston office exploded. Currently, their Angleton/Clute, Beaumont, Bryan, Conroe, and Galveston offices also remain closed. The Colorado Bar Association Young Lawyers Division is holding a donation drive for Lone Star Legal Aid from now through next Friday. Click here to donate to Lone Star Legal Aid through the CBA-YLD donation drive.

Other legal aid organizations providing help through the area are also accepting donations, including Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid and Southeast Louisiana Legal Services.

The CBA thanks those Colorado attorneys who are willing and able to help.

Colorado Gives: Volunteers Needed for Sturm College of Law’s Tribal Wills Project

Colorado Gives: CBA CLE Legal Connection will be focusing on several Colorado legal charities in the next few days to prepare for Colorado Gives Day, December 6, 2016. These charities, and many, many others, greatly appreciate your donations of time and money.

Each year, students from the Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver participate in the Tribal Wills Project (TWP). In January, March and May, TWP participants travel to a tribal reservation in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona or Montana for a week to draft wills, medical powers of attorney, living wills, and burial instructions for tribal members on a pro bono basis. This work is extremely important for the following reasons.

Under the American Indian Probate Reform Act (AIPRA), if a tribal member dies without a will and his or her interests in trust land total less than specified amount, such interests automatically pass to the tribal member’s oldest living descendant to the exclusion of his or her remaining descendants. If the tribal member is not survived by any descendants, such interests pass back to the tribe. This is often in contravention of the tribal member’s intent. In some instances, tribal members are unaware of these default provisions under AIPRA; in other instances, tribal members may be aware of the default provision but are without the means or resources to have a will prepared to avoid the foregoing results. TWP gives tribal members a voice so that desired family members are not excluded from inheriting interests in trust land.

Additionally, TWP provides a unique opportunity for law students to gain hands-on experience with real clients. Initially, a student is paired with a client to conduct an interview. Thereafter, the student prepares initial drafts of the desired documents, which are then reviewed by a Colorado supervising attorney. The student and attorney work through the revision process together, which provides an essential learning opportunity for the student. Once the documents appear to be in order, the documents are further reviewed by an attorney who is licensed in the particular state where the reservation is location. Once the documents receive final approval, the student participates in the execution process.

TWP was initially developed in February 2013 by John Roach, who is a Fiduciary Trust Officer for the Southern Ute Agency of the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians; former Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory J. Hobbs, Jr.; and University of Denver Professor Lucy Marsh, among others. The first trip occurred in March 2013 when the students and supervising attorneys travelled to the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute Reservations in southern Colorado. Since then, TWP has grown exponentially. Each year, students apply for limited positions on the TWP team; many must be turned away based on the limited availability of funds and supervising attorneys.

In January 2017, twenty students and four supervising attorneys will travel to two reservations outside of Phoenix, Arizona. Similar groups will travel to New Mexico in March and Montana in May. It costs approximately $15,000 to fund each trip, which is funded primarily by donations.

TWP is actively seeking volunteer supervising attorneys to assist with future trips. If you are unable to serve as a supervising attorney for any reason, you can still help by making a tax-deductible donation to TWP.

For more information, please contact Lucy Marsh at (303) 871-6285 or lmarsh@law.du.edu.

Toni-Anne Dasent Named Executive Director of Metro Volunteer Lawyers

toni-anne-dasentThe Denver Bar Association is pleased to announce Toni-Anne Dasent as the new director of Metro Volunteer Lawyers (MVL). She assumed her responsibilities on August 22, 2016.

Dasent holds a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Windsor, Canada, where she also served as director and group advisor of the university’s Community Legal Aid Program. She went on to become a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada in Ontario, and after spending some time working for Canada’s largest law firm, she relocated to Colorado in 1994.

Shortly after moving to Colorado, Dasent started as an intake volunteer for the Legal Aid Society (now Colorado Legal Services). After passing the bar exam, she continued to work as a volunteer attorney, devoting her energies to Project Safeguard in Judge Brian Campbell’s Denver courtroom. There, she assisted clients who were seeking restraining orders. Her dedication to helping underserved populations with their civil legal matters fueled her longstanding commitment to volunteering with MVL’s Family Law Court Program and taking on individual cases in a pro bono capacity.

Dasent is well-versed in MVL’s 50-year history and wants to ensure that the organization remains a dynamic force in promoting a more equitable society. “As director of MVL, I am looking forward to working with a dedicated and knowledgeable team to continue to provide access to justice for those in our community who would otherwise not be able to obtain fair and competent legal representation,” commented Dasent. She feels fortunate to have a team that works with Colorado Legal Services to assist many clients through the Family Law Court Program, Pro Bono Attorney Program, Post Decree Clinic, Power of Attorney Clinic and Legal Clinic at the Denver Indian Center. “I am grateful for the dedication and hard work of the current and past team members and past directors who have achieved so much in their time,” she said.

For Dasent, MVL is more than a job: It is a passion infused with responsibility. “My intent is to steadfastly promote those aspects of legal services in which we excel and work toward achieving greatness in those areas where there is room for improvement,” she explained. “I look forward to working with the Denver Bar Association and Colorado Legal Services in this new capacity and to continuing to provide exemplary services to our community.”

Nancy Elkind Honored with Colorado Lawyers Committee Outstanding Sustained Contribution Award

NancyElkindOn Monday, May 23, 2016, the Colorado Lawyers Committee held its annual awards luncheon at the Marriott Denver City Center. Nancy B. Elkind, founding partner of Elkind Alterman Harston PC, received the organization’s Outstanding Sustained Contribution Award. Ms. Elkind is on the Board of Directors for the Colorado Lawyers Committee, and she was chair of the committee from 2011 to 2013. She contributes extensively to her community through her work with the Colorado Lawyers Committee, helping the organization provide high-impact pro bono work while advocating, negotiating, and litigating for children, the poor, and other disadvantaged groups. She has practiced immigration law for over 30 years, and has provided counsel and guidance to hundreds of immigrant families and individuals, as well as to employers that are seeking to hire the “best and the brightest.” Ms. Elkind is also the managing editor of CBA-CLE’s treatise, Immigration Law for the Colorado Practitioner, and she also lectures frequently on topics related to immigration law.

AaronBoscheeAaron A. Boschee, senior associate at Squire Patton Boggs, received the Colorado Lawyers Committee’s Individual of the Year Award. Mr. Boschee is the Colorado Lawyers Committee Task Force Chair, and lead class counsel for the Taylor Ranch Litigation, through which he coordinates the pro bono efforts of over 30 lawyers at numerous law firms throughout the region. Mr. Boschee practices in the areas of commercial litigation, arbitration, and debt restructuring, focusing on debtor-creditor disputes, asset recovery and loss mitigation, real estate-based lending and litigation, creditor-lien priority, shareholder and director disputes, and fraud. He received his undergraduate degree from Minnesota State University and his law degree from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

SchmidtLaurenEBrownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP, received the Committee’s Law Firm of the Year Award. The Law Firm of the Year Award is given to firms whose attorneys and staff made significant pro bono contributions to Lawyers Committee projects during 2015. Lauren Schmidt, BHFS’s pro bono partner, and Martha Fitzgerald are members of the Colorado Lawyers Committee’s Board of Directors and Schmidt serves on the Executive Committee. Tenley Oldak serves on the Leadership Board of the Colorado Lawyers Committee Young Lawyers Division. Under Ms. Schmidt’s leadership, BHFS’s pro bono program has increased dramatically, and the firm is a signatory to the national Pro Bono Institute’s Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge. The firm has pledged to average 50 hours of pro bono work per lawyer per year.

Congratulations to all the honorees of the Colorado Lawyers Committee Awards.

Join Metro Volunteer Lawyers’s “50 Hours for 50 Years” Challenge

MVL-50-Year-Logo (png) SmallerThis year marks the 50th year anniversary for Metro Volunteer Lawyers! In honor of its anniversary, MVL is encouraging lawyers to achieve 50 hours of pro bono service this year. MVL is a program of the Denver Bar Association and co-sponsored by the Adams/Broomfield, Arapahoe, Douglas/Elbert, and First Judicial District Bar Associations. MVL offers pro bono opportunities in such areas as Wills, Probate, POAs, Family Law, Guardianship/Conservatorship, and Consumer law. You can even sign-up to take a case conditioned on MVL finding you a mentor, or be a mentor yourself.

Reasons to Volunteer with MVL: 

  • Helping MVL clients is a rewarding way to serve the needs of the less fortunate in your community, helping work towards our constitutional mandate of providing equal justice under the law.
  • Advance the reputation of the legal profession.
  • Obtain practical legal experience.
  • Fulfill your professional responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay. A lawyer should aspire to render at least fifty hours of pro bono public legal services per year. Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 6.1.
  • You can receive CLE credits for pro bono work. Under C.R.C.P. 260.8, Colorado attorneys providing uncompensated pro bono legal representation may apply for 1 general CLE credit for every 5 billable-equivalent hours of representation, up to a maximum of 9 credits in each 3 year compliance period.
  • MVL provides attorneys with malpractice insurance for the cases they take through its organization.

Want to Help MVL in Other Ways? Donate!

MVL_donatebuttonYour tax-deductible donation to MVL can help the organization provide legal services to more low-income individuals in Colorado. Click the “Donate” button or visit ColoradoGives.org to find MVL’s donation page.

Read More About Metro Volunteer Lawyers and How to Get Involved at www.metrovolunteerlawyers.org.

Metro Volunteer Lawyers: MVL Honors Dianne Van Voorhees and Looks to the Future

Van Voorhees

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on the MVL Blog on January 4, 2016. Reprinted with permission.

By Candace Whitaker, MVL Board Chair

After eight years as Executive Director, Dianne Van Voorhees leaves us on January 7 to serve the Arvada community as a part-time Municipal Court judge, and to start a private practice. Although we are all very happy for Dianne and this new phase of her legal career, she will be sorely missed at Metro Volunteer Lawyers. Dianne reflected recently on her tenure at MVL, stating “leading MVL has been one of my happiest experiences. Our clients get the assistance they need to prevent potentially devastating consequences. I am enormously proud of the staff, too. Our little team of 5 is responsible for ensuring that we could handle over 1400 cases this year. It is a pleasure to work with dedicated professionals, and we could not do it without our volunteers – our legal community is exceptional. I know that MVL will continue to thrive and grow, and I am excited to see what the future brings.”

How do you adequately thank someone who has given her heart and soul the past eight years for the betterment of Metro Volunteer Lawyers? “Thank you” doesn’t seem quite enough to recognize and honor the many contributions of Dianne Van Voorhees, but I’ll try to convey the debt of gratitude we owe her. In thanking her, let’s recall some of her many contributions and how they impacted MVL. From the outset, Dianne’s goal was to raise awareness of MVL within both the legal community and the community at-large. She was innovative on many fronts, including creating and maintaining MVL’s website and social media accounts, and involving MVL in the Colorado Gives Day from its inception and continuing participation, as well as using the Colorado Gives platform to allow individual fundraisers to solicit and collect donations for MVL electronically.

She also raised awareness of MVL by being acutely attuned to the legal community and attending every local meeting and event related to access to justice where she tirelessly advocated for MVL and its clients. Importantly, she achieved this not with an overbearing presence, but with a poise and warmth that reflects her personal and gracious nature. To refuse Dianne is unthinkable not for fear of repercussion, but because she is so highly respected. Having such a command of others based on integrity and mutual regard is a rare commodity these days, and one to be remembered and emulated.  Thank you for always being there for MVL and representing us well, Dianne!

While raising the profile of MVL, Dianne also expanded programming and created significant new programs. The Post-Decree Clinics, serving parents coping with parenting time, child support and maintenance issues, expanded beyond Denver and Jefferson Counties to include Adams and Arapahoe.  Dianne also added more law firm partners to the post-decree clinics, including the Attorney General’s Office, expanding the number of volunteers and the clients served. The Post-Decree Clinics are the only clinics of their type in Colorado and now accept approximately 260 clients annually. From the Post-Decree Clinic clients and volunteers, thank you, Dianne!

In 2012, Dianne, along with Danielle L. Demkowicz, MVL Board Member, also pioneered a monthly, walk-in clinic at the Denver Indian Center. As a descendant of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, the project was near to Dianne’s heart. Her experience with a wide variety of legal areas and specific experience with Native issues added depth to this clinic, and addressed the needs of a chronically underserved community, which Colorado’s Access to Justice Commission has identified as having one of the biggest gaps in access to justice. The first legal clinic was held on April 4, 2012 and continues as a monthly event.  From the Denver Indian Center and clients, thank you, Dianne!

As Executive Director, Dianne also managed staff responsible for acceptance of approximately 1,800 cases annually on a wide range of civil legal issues for clients who could not otherwise afford representation. She also managed over 400 annual volunteers, and expanded staff and capacity for interns and externs to work with MVL. Such administration is a daunting task, and Dianne researched and advocated for a new, scalable, relational case management system for MVL that also enhances and improves direct intake communication with Colorado Legal Services. This is a technological improvement that will carry MVL well into the future.

Dianne provided oversight to two essential MVL programs: the Family Law Court Program (“FLCP”) and the Rovira Special Programs created by the Rovira Scholar Fellowship, which Dianne helped develop. The FLCP assists pro se clients with uncomplicated, uncontested divorce or custody matters, where the other party is also pro se. The Rovira Programs are special programs and include the Power of Attorney Clinic, which partners with community nonprofits and low-income senior housing facilities to assist seniors with completing powers of attorney and living wills, and the Fostering Success Legal Clinic, a quarterly clinic aimed at helping current and former foster kids navigate legal issues.

Dianne’s responsibilities also included working closely with students, interns, the MVL Governing Board, the CBA/DBA, Colorado Legal Services, and the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network. Thank you, Dianne, for always making it look easy. You leave MVL a better organization for which we are forever grateful. Good luck and Godspeed, Judge Van Voorhees.

As for the future of MVL, we welcome Philip Lietaer as new Director.  Philip knows he has big shoes to fill (at least figuratively), and he is up to the task. Philip received a J.D. from the Western New England University School of Law, and a B.A. from the University of Western Ontario. His legal experience includes an impressive history of public service, including working with indigent clients at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, South Brooklyn Legal Services, and the Vail Center for Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles, California.  Philip also worked for the law firm of Goldstein & Lee, P.C. in New York City.

Philip is intimately familiar with the inner workings of MVL, having served in multiple positions within the organization. He first began working at MVL in 2013 as a Rovira Scholar Fellow. In 2014, he became Family Law Court Program Coordinator, where he has done an outstanding job working with clients with sensitive issues. About the FLCP Philip states, “I have had the opportunity to help many people in need while getting to work closely with many exceptional attorneys, students, paralegals, as well as our outstanding staff. Seeing our clients treated in a professional manner by a compassionate and capable legal professional, often providing a moment of dignity, has been one of the most rewarding aspects of this type of work.”

Philip states, “It is an honor to be selected as MVL’s new Director. I have come to know the organization very well, and I look forward to the honor and challenge of continuing to improve our ability to provide quality help to a large number of people in need.” We look forward to working with you, too, Philip.

Donate to Paris Relief Efforts

parisguidetower

We are heartbroken at the news of the Paris terrorist attacks, and extend our support and condolences to the victims and their families. Legal Newsance, a/k/a Similan Labs, has put together a list of organizations to which we can donate in order to help our Parisian brethren.

Many people around the world are looking for ways to help the victims of the tragic attacks that took place on Friday, November 13th.

While we at Similan Labs are powerless to provide direct aid or comfort to these victims and their families, we felt one small way we could help was to create a space that provides centralized info on organizations that can assist.

Please take a moment to visit the websites of these organizations. If you know of any others, please let us know and we’ll add them to this page!


INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF RED CROSS AND RED CRESCENT SOCIETIES (IFRC)

About. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest humanitarian network that reaches 150 million people in 189 National Societies through the work of over 17 million volunteers.

Funding Allocation. The Federation spends 93.5% of its resources on its humanitarian activities (source).

Can You Donate Online? Yes.

Link.http://www.ifrc.org/en/get-involved/donate/

Twitter Feed.https://twitter.com/federation


MÉDECINS SANS FRONTIÈRES (DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS)

About. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international, independent, medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural disasters and exclusion from healthcare. MSF offers assistance to people based on need, irrespective of race, religion, gender or political affiliation.

Funding Allocation. MSF spends over 80% of its resources on its humanitarian activities (source).

Can You Donate Online? Yes.

Link.http://www.msf.org/donate

Twitter Feed.https://twitter.com/MSF


SECOURS POPULAIRE FRANCAIS

About. Born in 1945, Secours populaire is a non-profit making association declared to be a great National cause. It is authorised to receive gifts, legacies and donations. The aim of the association is to fight against poverty and exclusion in France and throughout the World. It brings together people of all views, circumstances and origins who wish to live in solidarity.

Funding Allocation. Secours populaire spends 68% of its resources on its humanitarian activities (source).

Can You Donate Online? Yes, but the donation page is in French.

Link.https://www.secourspopulaire.fr/don#.VkbMBa6rRBy

Twitter Feed.https://twitter.com/secourspop


SECOURS CATHOLIQUE

About. Au Secours Catholique-Caritas France, more than 67,000 volunteers and nearly 1,000 employees act against poverty and in favor of solidarity, in France and in the world. As a service of the Catholic Church whose mission is to support the most fragile, the organization – founded in 1946 – is mobilized on the French territory and overseas, through its 4000 local teams. Internationally, it supports in more than 70 countries and territories in line with the global network Caritas Internationalis.

Funding Allocation. Secours Catholique spends 74% of its resources on its humanitarian activities (source).

Can You Donate Online? Yes, but the donation page is in French.

Link.https://don.secours-catholique.org/don_non_affecte/~mon-don/

Twitter Feed.https://twitter.com/caritasfrance


SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL

About. For over 30 years, the humanitarian aid organization SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL has been committed to providing aid in the event of conflict and natural disasters. Our mission is to provide aid as quickly and as efficiently as possible to endangered populations by meeting their vital needs: drinking water, food and shelter.

After providing emergency aid, our humanitarian teams accompany the most vulnerable families and communities until they recover their livelihoods and self-sufficiency, to enable them to deal with the challenges of an uncertain future with dignity.

Funding Allocation. Solidarités International spends 93% of its resources on its humanitarian activities (source).

Can You Donate Online? Yes.

Link.https://dons.solidarites.org/b/my-donation

Twitter Feed. https://twitter.com/solidarites_int

 

Attorney Volunteers Needed for “Ask an Attorney” Sessions at Legal Resource Day

The Colorado Judicial Branch is hosting Legal Resource Day on Friday, October 2, 2015 for people representing themselves in court. This event will allow pro se litigants to visit the Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center (2 E. 14th Avenue, Denver, CO 80203) to learn more about court processes, legal information, and resources through a series of informational clinics, “Ask an Attorney” sessions, tours, and vendors. There is no cost to attend the event.

We are looking for attorneys who would be interested in volunteering at the “Ask an Attorney” sessions. The sessions are in two-hour blocks: 10:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. and 12:45 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. The pro se litigant would have a chance to sit with an attorney for up to 15 minutes in the areas of family law and general civil law, to include evictions, small claims, money cases, etc. Chief Justice Nancy Rice will kick off Legal Resource Day at 10 a.m. with opening remarks welcoming participants and providing an overview of the informational sessions being offered.

If you would be interested in volunteering for either of the “Ask an Attorney” slots, please contact Brigitte Smith, Self-Represented Litigant Coordinator, at brigitte.smith@judicial.state.co.us or call 720-772-2503.

Metro Volunteer Lawyers: The Government Lawyer and Pro Bono: How Can I Help?

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on the Metro Volunteer Lawyers blog on October 3, 2014.

MVLBy Nate Lucero, MVL Board Member

I’ve been practicing law for over 12 years now and I’ve spent my entire career in the public sector.  Why do I work for the government?  Because I, like many of my colleagues, have a genuine interest in public service.  What I’ve noticed throughout my career is that often times, public law offices are the biggest firms within their respective jurisdiction.

I’m sure that’s not news to anyone, especially those of us who work in the public sector.  So, why do I mention it?  Because, this means that our government law offices have some of the biggest pools of lawyers that can provide pro bono services within our respective jurisdictions and elsewhere.  I have heard many government lawyers give reasons for not participating in providing pro bono services.  Among those reasons, ironically, is the very reason we work for the government in the first place – i.e. “I meet my obligation every day since my daily practice involves public interest issues.”

The Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct (the “rules”) provide that every lawyer has a professional responsibility to provide legal services for those unable to pay.  That said, government lawyers may face a number of limitations including conflict of interest restrictions, limitations on the use of office resources and statutory restrictions.  Never fear, the rules provide some guidance by encouraging us to fulfill our pro bono public responsibility by delivering legal services at no fee or a substantially reduced fee to, among others, individuals, charitable, religious, civic, or educational organizations in furtherance of their organizational purposes, where the payment of legal fees would deplete the organizations resources or be otherwise inappropriate; delivering legal services at a substantially reduced fee to persons of limited means; or participating in activities for improving the law, legal system or the legal profession.

There are many ways in which we, as government lawyers, may fulfill our professional responsibility. Operating under the assumption that you, as a government lawyer, fulfill your obligation every day by simply going to work is a false assumption.  In fact, the comments to the rules indicate that this does not constitute compliance with the rule.  You would be surprised at the number of areas in which you may be able to lend your expertise to MVL, such as family law, landlord-tenant disputes, or probate to name a few.

I’m not trying to guilt anyone into providing pro bono services. I merely want to encourage you to consider it, and remember the reason you are a public sector attorney in the first place.  Of course, you will need to check with your employer to see what your office’s specific limitations are.  Once you’ve done this (and assuming you get a thumbs-up), consider helping with MVL’s Family Law Court Program, or having your office sponsor a Post-Decree Clinic coordinated and managed by MVL.  Working through MVL may address malpractice insurance concerns you have.  If you feel that you don’t have the expertise to handle a particular matter, no worries, MVL has a mentoring program for that.

I guess what I’m saying is be like Mikey and try it, you might like it.

Please see the article at http://www.cobar.org/tcl/tcl_articles.cfm?articleid=823 for the CBA’s policy for voluntary pro bono public service by government attorneys for guidance in establishing a policy for your public law office.

Nathan “Nate” Lucero is a Metro Volunteer Lawyers Board Member. With a dedication to public service, Nathan has made his career in the public sector, spending over ten years as an Assistant County Attorney in Adams County, Colorado prior to joining the Denver City Attorney’s office in 2014.  With Adams County, Nathan worked in human services for several years and spent the better part of his tenure with Adams County focusing on Land Use/Zoning, Prosecution of Code Violations, and Assessment Appeals.  Since working for the City and County of Denver, Nathan continues to focus on Land Use/Zoning and is expanding his repertoire to include Parks and Recreation and Environmental Law.