In an area of law dominated by creditors and debt collection agencies with years of experience in court procedures, it’s easy to see how not just clients but even attorneys unfamiliar with the litigation process might lack confidence. But as Richard Dennis can report, even the most basic advice and assistance can make an enormous difference for low-income debtors who feel confused and powerless. Richard worked for AT&T for 17 years, first handling corporate matters including mergers and acquisitions, and then working in the company’s global operations legal team. He is also a long-time volunteer at VLJ’s Consumer Law Clinic
Retired Judge Patricia Costello, Esq. is of counsel at Chiesa, Shahinian & Giantomasi P.C. in West Orange, NJ. She served more than 25 years as a New Jersey Superior Court Judge, including as the Presiding Judge in Essex County Family Court. She concentrates her practice on mediation and arbitration of civil chancery and matrimonial matters.
William Krovatin, Esq. is Senior Vice President and Assistant General Counsel at Merck & Co., Inc. in Kenilworth, NJ, where he specializes in intellectual property law.
Mary Frances Palisano, Esq. is the Director of Criminal Defense as well as the Pro Bono Coordinator at Gibbons, P.C. in Newark, NJ. She is a longtime VLJ volunteer and has been handling criminal cases for about 20 years and focuses her practice on criminal defense, juvenile proceedings, school discipline matters, and special education. She also serves as the Chair of the firm's Pro Bono Committee.
Geoffrey Rosamond, Esq. is a partner and former chairman of the Pro Bono Committee at McCarter & English, LLP, in Newark, NJ. He is a longtime VLJ volunteer and practices criminal defense and commercial litigation where he represents corporations and individuals in a broad array of criminal and regulatory investigations and proceedings.
Nearly 40,000 people face eviction each year in Essex County. The number seems overwhelming, but as Eduardo Santiago-Acevedo explains, even if attorneys can assist only a small percentage of families, “for those individuals, it means everything in the world.”
Volunteer Lawyer for Justice’s second annual Summer Soiree was a huge success, raising awareness and funding for VLJ’s Children’s Representation Program (CRP). Hosted by VLJ’s Generation Now Young Professionals Committee, the event was attended by almost 100 professionals at the Essex Fells Country Club on June 8, 2017 and featured an impassioned speech by exemplary volunteer Michael Malia.
Kaitlyn Stone was named Volunteer Lawyers for Justice Pro Bono Attorney of the Month for July! Kaitlyn, an associate at Gibbons P.C., is a regular at VLJ’s monthly expungement clinic for low income New Jersey residents with a criminal background.
The primary wish of so many low-income clients struggling with debt is simply to have a fresh start. That is exactly what Matt Leff has been providing for the past seven years through his volunteer work with VLJ.
Matt, a patent attorney at Merck & Co., leads the Bankruptcy in a Box Program, which offers low-income clients a new financial future after they have become overwhelmed by debt. Merck attorneys and paralegals work together to prepare and file Chapter 7 petitions on behalf of their clients.
VLJ is excited to announce two new legal programs this year. The Veterans Legal Wellness Clinic is the first legal services clinic to be held regularly at the East Orange VA Hospital; VLJ is proud to partner with the legal departments of BASF and Panasonic, as well as the law firms, Day Pitney LLP, Nukk-Freeman & Cerra PC, and McGuire Woods LLP on this ground-breaking new program. The Tenancy Clinic is our second new program and it is co-sponsored by Prudential and Lowenstein Sandler.
There are 40,000 evictions filed in Essex County alone – the most in the state. VLJ helps low-income tenants facing eviction through a monthly legal clinic at the courthouse in partnership with Prudential and Lowenstein Sandler. Learn why tenants face an uphill battle in this WNYC piece featuring our clinic: http://www.wnyc.org/story/why-tenants-lose-against-lanlords-newark.
PSEG’s legal department approached VLJ about starting a pro bono program to address the legal needs of veterans in New Jersey, which led to the creation of VLJ’s Veterans Legal Program in 2014. Three years later, PSEG’s tireless attorneys and support staff have hosted 30 legal clinics and provided much-needed legal services to this underserved community. PSEG has demonstrated a long-lasting commitment to assisting NJ’s veterans and is most deserving of this honor!
On November 14, 2016, VLJ hosted our 15th Anniversary Celebration at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ. The night was enormously successful; nearly 300 guests attended the event and helped raise over $300,000 for VLJ. In addition, BASF Corporation was presented with the 2016 Pro Bono Award (accepted by Matthew Lepore, Senior Vice President, Chief Compliance Officer).
VLJ is always in need of your support in order to keep taking cases and changing lives---cases like Aidan and Lisa's.
VLJ is always in need of your support to keep taking cases and changing lives---case like Danny's.
VLJ is always in need of your support to keep taking cases and changing lives---cases like Feleasha's.
VLJ is always in need of your support to keep taking cases and changing lives---cases like Margaret and her son Joshua's.
When Joshua was 16-years-old, he had already been retained once and his school district was seeking to hold him back again due to excessive absences.