Legal Aid News

What's Happening in the World of Legal Aid

2016 NEWS

  • Several attorney positions have been added to the Albany Regional Office to bring the lawyer-to-poverty population in line with other regional offices. The positions will help address the needs of clients in the region, including domestic violence and housing.
  • Legal aid lawyer Shelby Tilden in the Lincoln County office received the Arno Denecke New Lawyer of the Year award from the Marion County Bar Association.
  • Portland legal aid lawyer Julie Stevens was honored with the 2016 Hans Linde Award by the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy Oregon Lawyer Chapter.
  • Julia Olsen, Managing Attorney of the Portland LASO office, is the chair of the OSB Civil Rights Section. As one part of this position, she helped plan a community forum, Facing the Truth: Race and Criminal Justice in Multnomah County, to discuss solutions and address the ways that communities of color are vastly overrepresented as defendants in each stage of Multnomah County’s adult criminal justice system.
  • In April 2016, the Marion Polk Regional Offices have moved to a new location in downtown Salem very close to the courthouse. They plan to welcome the community to an open house in their new space once they are settled.
  • Dev Parikh has been named as the managing attorney of the Ontario Office of the Oregon Law Center. Dev moved to Oregon from Illinois and looks forward to connecting with the community in Eastern Oregon.
  • Debra Dority has been hired to take the place of Robin Selig as Oregon Law Center’s State Litigation Support Unit Family Law Attorney. Debra has more than a decade of experience in advocating for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors. Robin Selig is retiring after more than 30 years at legal aid.
  • Jill Mallery and Erin White have joined LASO’s Portland Regional Office as staff attorney / pro bono coordinators. Jill is a graduate of Lewis & Clark Law School. Prior to coming to LASO she coordinated the Marion County Circuit Court Mediation Program. Erin is a graduate of the University of Oregon Law School. Prior to joining LASO she worked for legal aid in Hawaii. Jill and Erin have a wealth of volunteer coordination experience and are doing a great job overseeing LASO PRO’s pro bono projects.
  • Guillermo Ramos has been hired under a Justice Reinvestment Act grant to work exclusively with domestic and sexual violence survivors referred by Gateway Center for Domestic Violence Services. Guillermo has experience as a public defender, and prior to that, served in the Navy and worked on mental health and homeless issues.
  • Legal aid and Miller Nash Graham & Dunn teamed together to create Oregon’s first “Virtual Legal Clinic” that serves clients from the Bend service area. The clinic links Oregon attorneys from MNGD’s urban offices in Oregon (Bend and Portland) and Washington State (Vancouver and Seattle) with legal aid clients from in rural Central Oregon living in Jefferson, Deschutes, and Crook counties.


2015 NEWS

  • Legal Aid Moves
    • As a part of legal aid’s strategic plan and the retirement of several senior lawyers, there have been new hires across the state in the past year. Here are a few of the new attorneys we welcome at legal aid:
      • Marisa Antonia Samuelson is now in the Portland OLC office. She has a JD from Hastings, a Masters of Journalism from Northwestern University, and a Bachelor Degree in English and Spainish. She is fluent in Spanish and worked as a Public Defender serving Natives in Pascua Yaqui Tribal Court near Tuscon, AZ.
      • Juhi Aggarwal is now in the Hillsboro OLC office. She has a JD from Georgetown and a Bachelor Degree from Universtiy of Michigan. She is fluent in Hindi and speaks some German, and joins legal aid following an attorney position with Disability Rights Oregon.
      • Georgina Paz Santos began working as a staff attorney in the LASO Roseburg office in June. Georgina graduated from U of O Law School in 2014, where she was articles editor of the law review. She was a summer associate with Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt and she got courtroom experience as a student attorney with the Lane County DA’s office. Georgina clerked for Lane County Circuit Court before joining LASO.
      • Matthew Austin will join NAPOLS in August 2015. Before his recent move to Oregon, Matt was an Indian Law staff attorney at Wisconsin Judicare. He is a graduate of University of Wisconsin Law School and also has a masters degree in Economics from U of O.
      • Emily Sitnick will return to LASO as a staff attorney in August 2015. Emily began her legal career in the Hillsboro legal aid office years ago in a support staff position and was later hired by the Portland office to be a bilingual legal secretary. She then left to attend law school at St Thomas Law School in Minnesota. She then went on the the Victim Rights Law Center where she did a range of work for survivors of domestic and sexual violence in immigration, protection orders, housing and employment.
      • Jill Mallery has also joined the Portland LASO office as the pro bono staff attorney. Jill has been working with the Marion County Circuit Court as their Mediation Coordinator, where she coordinated their pro bono panel of mediators. Before that, she was a pro bono coordinator and staff attorney for Memphis Area Legal Services in Tennessee, where she represented seniors and coordinated their Pro Bono Senior Law Project and Hurricane Katrina Project. For a video featuring several other new legal aid lawyers, please click here.
  • Legal Aid Services of Oregon launches a new Statewide Pro Bono Effort with a grant from Meyer Memorial Trust.

    Maya Crawford, who assumed the Statewide Pro Bono Manager position on June 1, was a managing attorney of the Volunteer Lawyers Project in Portland and also worked at the Campaign for Equal Justice. She will help regional legal aid offices develop pro bono opportunities; develop systems to maximize the use of Portland metro area attorneys in representing clients throughout the state; and will increase client services through the use of innovative programs. Crawford looks forward to working with legal aid staff around the state, as well as with the Oregon State Bar, local bar associations, private law firms, corporate legal departments, government attorneys, individual attorneys, the judiciary, Oregon law schools, the Campaign for Equal Justice and other community organizations. When asked about her new position, Crawford stated, We are blessed in Oregon to have a wealth of private attorneys who want to partner with legal aid to achieve justice for low-income Oregonians. I feel energized to work with my colleagues to expand pro bono opportunities to all parts of the state!  Please stay-tuned for opportunities in your region.”

  • Training on Section 8 Housing Law Legal aid also received grant funding from Meyer Memorial Trust to create materials and curriculum to help clarify recent changes to Oregon’s Section 8 housing law. Training events led by legal aid in twelve communities are already underway. Landlords, landlord employees, tenants and other stakeholders have been very positive about what they have learned. Check out this great new video from legal aid that is a part of the training materials. Housing authorities and landlords will use the materials in their own trainings.
  • Robin Selig, Family Law Support Unit Attorney, Oregon Law Center, Portland was recently awarded the Multnomah Bar Association Professionalism Award for the highest ethical standards and exemplary conduct in the practice of law and for making the practice of law more enjoyable. One nominator stated it well: “With a career-long focus on family law, and particularly the needs of victims of domestic violence, Robin is the ‘go to’ person on those issues, whether it’s a matter of drafting legislation, representing victims at trial or on appeal, revising court forms to reflect law changes or best practice developments – or teaching and mentoringthe next generation of lawyers who will continue to tackle these social problems.” Robin’s thoughtful work is also felt statewide in the many committees and boards where she advocates for individual protections and systemic change, and in the trainings she offers to nonprofits who focus on domestic violence and sexual assault. The Oregon legal system is lucky to have Robin, and we celebrate her accomplishments with this much-deserved award.


2014 NEWS

  • Racheal Egan Baker, a staff attorney with the Central Oregon Office, received the Harpole Attorney Award from Lewis & Clark Law School. This award is presented to individuals who personify professionalism and dedication to the pursuit of justice.
  • David Thornburgh, Executive Director of the Oregon Law Center, received the Award of Merit from the Oregon State Bar. This award is the highest honor that the Oregon State Bar bestows, given to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the bench, bar, and community at large, and who exhibits the highest standards of professionalism.
  • Attorney James Young and legal assistant Nicole Bradley, both of the Coos Bay Oregon Law Center, received awards given by the Southern Oregon chapter of NALs, a nonprofit association for legal professionals. James was named the 2014 Boss of the Year, and Nicole was named the 2014 Legal Support Professional of the Year.
  • David Henretty of Oregon Law Center has been selected as one of the recipients of the 2014 Outstanding Achievement in Immigrant Rights Award from the Oregon Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. The Award is given in recognition of the
    pathbreaking collaboration between litigators and activists on ending immigration and customs enforcement detainers in Oregon.
  • Prior to leaving her position as Director of LASO’s Portland Regional Office in spring of 2014, Leslie Kay was honored by the Multnomah Bar Association for her many years of service to the bar, her professionalism, and her exemplary mentoring, especially to women lawyers.
  • Julia Olsen was named Regional Director of the LASO Portland Regional Office, replacing Leslie Kay.
  • Pam Haan, a staff attorney in the LASO Portland Regional Office, was hired for the Supervising Attorney position formerly held by Julia Olsen. Pam is a graduate of Lewis and Clark Law School who started with legal aid as an Americorps attorney in 1999 and has focused her practice on family law and family violence issues. She has been a leader in the community collaboration to end domestic violence.
  • The Bend LASO office welcomed new staff attorney Elizabeth Oshel in April. Elizabeth is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and Lewis and Clark Law School. While in law school, she clerked for the Portland region’s legal aid office and later clerked for Judge Maureen McKnight of Multnomah County Circuit Court. Elizabeth was living in Qatar when she interviewed for the position and has now moved halfway around the world to work with legal aid in Oregon.
  • Tatiana Achcar, who was an intake specialist in the LASO Portland Regional Office, has been hired for a farmworker staff attorney position in the Woodburn office. Tatiana graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1999 and has worked with a number of law firms and non-profit organizations helping immigrants, low-income families and communities of color.
  • Walter Fonseca was hired as the new staff attorney in the Ontario OLC office. He is a 2013 graduate of Lewis and Clark Law School, who demonstrated a commitment to serving the low income communities in Oregon by representing clients with family and housing law cases in the law school civil clinic, interning at the Community Development Law Center and volunteering at the Metropolitan Public Defenders and St. Andrew Legal Clinic.
  • Tomas Hernandez began work as a staff attorney in the LASO Albany office. Tomas is a 2013 graduate of Willamette Law School. He is a former army recruiter and army reservist who operated his own law office before joining legal aid. Tomas’ position was added to the Albany office under the strategic plan.
  • Ed Johnson was hired as Director of Litigation at OLC. A graduate of Columbia University School of Law, Ed joined the legal aid community as a staff attorney in 1996. He was the OLC state support unit attorney assigned to housing law from 2002-2013. In this role he worked on cases that created important precedents on a broad range of substantive issues that are helpful for housing advocates and low-income clients. Ed has a reputation for building enthusiasm for legal aid’s work.
  • Beth Englander joined the Portland OLC office. A graduate of the University of Oregon Law School, she started as a legal aid lawyer in the Oregon City Office from 2001 – 2006 where she earned a good reputation for her litigation and other advocacy for low income people on a broad range of cases, and then worked for Disability Rights Oregon from 2006 to 2014.
  • Steve Walters has been hired by OLC as a support staff attorney and will be focusing on complex litigation. After graduating from Stanford University Law School, Steve clerked for Chief Justice Warren E. Burger of the U.S. Supreme Court and then joined the newly formed Legal Services Corporation. He spent three decades working on complex litigation at Stoel Rives and Allen Matkins. He chaired several OSB task forces on legal aid, including the Walters Task Force that adopted the Mission, Equal Justice Values, and Core Capacities that guide the advocacy work of legal aid programs in Oregon. Steve has earned a reputation for being an effective mentor.

2013 NEWS
  • Four legal aid programs working in cooperation with the State Unit on Aging at DHS received a national grant to improve services for senior clients in Oregon.  The first part of the grant involves reaching out to partners across the community to identify the most important services.  The goal is to expand legal aid’s ability to assist the most vulnerable seniors who are unable to connect to legal help currently, such as immigrants, those in rural areas, shut-ins, and those with no internet, family, or very few community connections.
  • Eight years ago, Joe got a little rowdy in a Portland bar after watching a Timbers game that came down to the last seconds, with the Timbers winning.  In his excited state, Joe left without paying his bar tab.  The subsequent conviction has held him back from housing, and getting a good job, even though he has never committed any other offenses. Legal aid has received a new United Way grant in Hillsboro to expand pro bono services to help with the paperwork and court filings that will clean up a record in order to gain employment in this type of scenario.
  • Once a month IRCO (Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization) and legal aid pair up and go onsite to community centers to answer questions and meet legal needs for a very diverse group of people. Recently, OAPABA (Oregon Asian Pacific American Bar Association) has joined in the fight! They are providing additional support for issues that are a focus for Asian and Pacific Islanders. The lawyers at the clinic answers questions about housing and employment cases. Often a simple bit of advice goes very far towards empowering a person to get the help they need.
  • Since March 2013, a highly experienced attorney, Barbara Creel, has been available full time to provide representation to indigent clients in the tribal court. She also is working with the tribe to strengthen the justice system. Examples of her work include assisting a family in getting a birth certificate for their grandmother so that they can prove eligibility for services, such as tribal housing and access to health services. She is also working with lay advocates and others in the tribal court to create forms and documents that will make the filings and court procedure more efficient.
  • Legal aid welcomed Matt Erdman to the head of the Tax Clinic, which is sponsored by a matching grant from the IRS. Matt is clearly a numbers guy, stating how busy this clinic has been  statewide in the first half of the year in definite terms: with 72 cases, 26 presentations, 8 outreach events and over 6,500 contacts, they are taking their place in the fight for justice. In addition, Matt has been focusing on making contacts and connections throughout the state to get every office ready to help low income Oregonians navigate tax season. Here is an example of a great case the tax clinic resolved: a family came to legal aid after not receiving their full refund. There were worried they had done something wrong. Legal aid discovered that their unlicensed tax preparer had spelled their daughter’s name wrong and reversed the last two digits of her social security number. This was easily resolved with the IRS.

 

2012 AND EARLIER

Beverly Pearman of Stoel Rives Named President of Oregon Law Center Board

-April 23, 2012. CEJ Press Release 

Lane County Bar Association First Recipient of CEJ's Justice Cup

-April 4 2012. Lane County Bar News (see page 4) 

LASO Appoints New Executive Director

-March 14, 2012. CEJ Press Release 

Funding Cuts Force Closure of Oregon City Legal Aid Office

- February 14, 2012. LASO Press Release 

Funding Cuts Force Legal Aid Layoffs

- August 13, 2011. CEJ Press Release 

The Campaign for Equal Justice wrapped up its 2009 fund drive in March, 2010 and Oregon lawyers once again answered the question “Do You Believe in Justice?” by contributing $1 million to support legal aid.

- April 2010.  "We Believe in Justice"  Multnomah Lawyer

Legal Aid Services hosts clinics in response to growing demand for bankruptcy legal advice.

- April 8, 2010.  "Nonprofit Offers Free Legal Advice on Low-Income Bankruptcy Filing"  Bend Bulletin

Like many organizations trying to keep up with increasing needs caused by the recession, Legal Aid is struggling to keep up with more requests for services.

- November 23, 2009.  "As Economy Struggles, Legal Needs Escalate"  Bend Bulletin

"Fasten Your Seat Belts — It’s Been a Bumpy Ride," a bus tour exploring historic sites of discrimination in Portland, brings the past to life with its narrative on pertinent historical laws and events.

- September 15, 2009.  "Bus tour journeys through Portland’s discriminatory history"  The Asian Reporter

The Legal Services Corporation joined the nation in mourning the death of Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) last week, a champion for the poor and underprivileged and a leader in the effort to establish and maintain a strong federal role in providing civil legal aid to low-income Americans.

- September 3, 2009. "Kennedy Played Leading Role in Creating of LSC" LSC Press Room Updates

Wilcox Farms Settle EEOC Sexual Harassment Retaliation Suit.  Oregon Law Center and Legal Aid Services of Oregon represented victim, who was forced to quit to escape abusive supervisor. 

- August 20, 2009.  "Oregon Farm Worker Settles Sex Harassment Suit, $260K for Latina Worker."  Salem-News.com.

Some people covered by both Medicare and Medicaid (because they have low incomes and are disabled or over 64) still have trouble finding doctors or buying prescriptions -- proof that expanding insurance coverage isn't enough to lower costs or improve health care.

- August 19, 2009. “Even With Coverage of Two Major Plans, Some Oregonians Struggle to Get Health Care.” The Oregonian.

Leslie Kay, director of Multnomah County Legal Aid, will lead the 4,400 attorney organization for the upcoming year.

- August 7, 2009. “Legal Aid Director to Head Bar.” Portland Business Journal.

Low-income Oregonians struggle to pay back thousands of dollars in food stamp “overpayments” caused by DHS case workers wrongly calculating benefits.

- August 4, 2009. “Food Stamp Overpayments Cause Concern for Single Mom.” The Skanner.

The Community Development Law Center, a program of Legal Aid Services of Oregon, provided over 3 years of legal assistance on the development and funding of Plaza Los Robles.

July 30, 2009. "City’s Fears of Farmworker Housing Fears Melt into Pride." The Oregonian

Senate appropriators recently agreed to lift almost all restrictions on how legal aid offices may use non-federal funds and have given legal aid lawyers the right to seek reimbursement of attorneys’ fees in litigation underwritten with non-federal money.

July 13, 2009.  “A Fair Shake for Legal Aid.”  The Washington Post 

Legal aid societies across the country are being overwhelmed by growing numbers of poor and unemployed Americans. Tony Pugh reports on the dramatic impact of the recession on the delivery system for civil legal aid.

July 9, 2009.  “Growing Number of Poor People Swamp Legal Aid Offices.”  McClatchy Newspapers 

The Oregon legislature showed its commitment to civil legal services for low-income residents through the passage of two bills including a general fund biennial appropriation of $1 million for legal services.

July 8, 2009.  “Legislature Supports Legal Services.”  Capitol Insider

The Legal Services Corporation held a board meeting in Portland on April 24th & 25th, 2009. The Board visited the Portland LASO office and learned more about services LASO offers to migrant farmworkers and Native Americans.

May 8, 2009.  “LSC Board Meets in Portland, Oregon.”  LSC Press Room Updates

The Legal Services Corporation presented pro bono awards to five members of Oregon’s legal community. Awards presented to George Galloway, Lisa Neal-Graves, Paul Saucy, the Honorable Elizabeth Perris & Evans Van Buren.

May 8, 2009.  “LSC Board Honors Oregon Pro Bono Attorneys.”  LSC Press Room Updates

The Oregon Legislature is working on Senate Bill 952, a law that would protect tenants living in homes that are in danger of being foreclosed.

May 5, 2009.  “Renters, too, can face the hit of foreclosure.”  The Stump, Oregonian

Guest opinion by Helaine Barnett about the importance of legal aid and the need to keep working towards equal access to justice for all.

April 23, 2009. “Legal Aid: Equal Access to Justice.”  The Stump, Oregonian