ATTORNEY SPOTLIGHT: SUZANNE KLAR (PSEG)
Suzanne M. Klar is an example of how one person can spark beneficial and lasting change—in this case, for veterans. In 2013, the PSEG associate general litigation counsel approached Volunteer Lawyers for Justice about a broader pro bono role by attorneys in her company’s legal department. A VLJ board member since 2008, Suzanne had been focused on pro bono work for years. In particular, she noticed that veterans and active service members had critical legal needs.
In February 2014, more than 40 PSEG attorneys and paralegals attended a VLJ training session on veterans’ issues, and a monthly clinic was launched that March at PSEG’s offices in Newark. The clinic handles driver’s license suspensions, criminal records, and child support issues. The attorneys obtain records, do legal analysis, write letters, and draft motions so the veterans can represent themselves. The goal is to remove barriers to a successful post-service transition.
Veterans “are often confused about what their rights are and what they can do. They want to move forward, but they are stuck,” says Suzanne, who handles defense litigation as well as bankruptcy, collection, and commercial matters in her role at PSEG, where she has been for 22 years. Moreover, the clinic gives veterans “a clear message that people care,” she adds. The PSEG Foundation funds the clinic, which is staffed by VLJ and PSEG attorneys. Gibbons and McCarter & English attorneys participate in alternate months.
“We are so grateful to Suzanne for her vision and dedication. In addition to leading this enormously successful program, she attends practically every clinic. She identified this unmet legal need and helped design an innovative solution,” says Karen Sacks, VLJ’s Executive Director. “And it’s so fitting that Suzanne works at PSEG, which graciously gives its attorneys and paralegals the time to volunteer. The company is truly a leader in pro bono. Its commitment is deep and long-term.”