Volunteer Lawyers for Justice is excited to honor Philip Taylor as its June Volunteer of the Month. Phil has been volunteering with VLJ’s Children’s Representation Program for the past year. His interest in pro bono work began when he left a position practicing shareholder litigation at the law firm Abraham, Fruchter & Twersky to begin his own practice. “When I started my solo practice, I had more opportunity to do pro bono work,” said Phil. “My practice was slow initially, so I was excited by the opportunity to give back and learn about new practice areas.” After participating in VLJ’s new volunteer orientation, Phil, whose parents were both special education teachers, became interested in the Children’s Representation Program (CRP). CRP provides free legal advice and representation to parents or guardians of children with disabilities who have been denied the special education services to which they are entitled.
Volunteer Lawyers for Justice is pleased to announce Brian Yomtov, Esq. as its May Volunteer of the Month. Brian works as a Vice President, Corporate Counsel at Prudential Financial in the Technology and Enterprise Contracts Law group where his practice focuses on the drafting and negotiation of technology and service transaction agreements, including software licensing, cloud/hosting, outsourcing, and strategic consulting arrangements. Through Prudential, he has been volunteering with VLJ since 2012.
Volunteer Lawyers for Justice is honored to announce Alexandra Litvin as the April Volunteer of the Month. Alexandra has been a dedicated volunteer with VLJ since 2007, while still at Seton Hall Law School.
As a legal intern at VLJ, Alexandra witnessed first-hand the role a volunteer attorney can play in changing the trajectory of a person’s life. “It was a very rewarding experience and it opened my eyes to the need for pro bono work.” Alexandra opened her own successful firm, the Law Office of Alexandra Wolfe Litvin, LLC, where she represents clients in business and corporate matters, as well as construction litigation, real estate, and consumer issues.
VLJ’s tenancy program would be lost without the dedication and generous spirit of Denise Panzer, VLJ’s March 2019 Volunteer of the Month. Denise, the Pro Bono Administrative Coordinator at Lowenstein Sandler, has attended every Tenancy Clinic since the program began in February 2017. Denise is an essential team member at every clinic. She keeps things running smoothly, organizing cases and supporting the volunteer attorneys. Her work for the program outside of the clinic is also invaluable.
Volunteer Lawyers for Justice is honored to recognize Tim Law as the February 2019 Volunteer of the Month for his work with our New Jersey Human Trafficking Victims’ Legal Assistance Program (Trafficking Program). Tim recognizes the pivotal role a skilled and dedicated attorney can play in changing the lives of human trafficking survivors with criminal records, and he exemplifies the zealous champion for survivors’ rights.
Tim is a Partner in the Philadelphia office of Reed Smith, where he represents corporations, non-profits, and universities in liability insurance coverage litigation, arbitration, and mediation.
When he was a new associate at McCarter & English, Brett Kahn attended a luncheon where the firm’s partners discussed the importance of doing pro bono work and highlighted the opportunities for pro bono work with VLJ. After his first experience volunteering on a case, he was hooked. Over the years, Brett has worked on 37 different pro bono cases for VLJ clients. Today, almost a decade after that luncheon, Brett is a partner himself at McCarter & English, welcomed his first child in July, and is still taking on pro bono cases for VLJ.
For New Jersey’s veterans, nagging legal issues such as old criminal convictions or suspended driver’s licenses can derail their lives and make it nearly impossible for them to secure housing and employment. The Veteran’s Legal Program was started with generous funding from PSEG in January 2014 to address the critical legal needs of veterans and active military members. VLJ coordinates regular clinics in conjunction with PSEG where volunteer attorneys assist veterans with their legal challenges and honor their military service. This month, we highlight the work of PSEG attorney Matthew Jokajtys as VLJ’s volunteer of the month for his work with the Veteran’s Legal Program.
A few missed payments on a credit card bill or a student loan can bring consumers into a legal system that seems overwhelming. Volunteer lawyers through VLJ’s Consumer Law Program help to relieve some of the pressure felt by these consumers. This month, we highlight the work of Rob Nussbaum of Saiber LLC. Rob’s practice at Saiber has centered on civil litigation including collection work, construction litigation, and personal injury defense work. That experience in civil litigation made Rob a natural fit for VLJ’s Consumer Law Program.
Victims of human sex trafficking face not only the private trauma of coercion and exploitation, but also, all too often, a very public record of their ordeal in the form of a criminal history if they have been forced into prostitution and related offenses. Having a criminal record wrongly stigmatizes trafficking victims and survivors and can prevent them from finding employment, stable housing, and the other basic services that are necessary to move on with their lives. But, as attorney Meredith Walsh has experienced firsthand, that’s where a lawyer can step in to help. By helping trafficking victims use a state law passed for the express purpose of vacating their criminal records, Meredith and other pro bono attorneys give their clients a fresh start.
For many professionals, the greatest obstacle to volunteering is finding the time. But Prudential’s Kathleen DeCelie says this doesn’t have to be the case. She points to her experience, volunteering through VLJ, which has provided a variety of pro bono opportunities suitable to her schedule as a full-time attorney, wife and mother of two. “You choose how long and how much you want to do. You can volunteer for four to five hours, no more. And when you do, I promise that you will win,” says Kathleen. Nonetheless, she feels fortunate to work at a company where there is not only a commitment to pro bono but also an encouragement to do so.