Law Student Volunteers

David Gutierrez and Brett Hastings are law students who volunteer regularly at the Street Law Clinic where low income clients are given brief advice about their legal questions. The Street Law Clinic is a joint initiative of the University of Utah’s Pro Bono Initiative and Utah Legal Services.  The Street Law Clinic does not provide full representation, so when a client leaves the clinic they are on their own to find a resolution to their legal issues.  Recently a client came in to Street Law to get help with an unemployment claim.  The client had been denied unemployment benefits by the Department of Work Force Services and wanted to make an appeal.  He was looking for work, but needed the unemployment benefits in order to get by until he got a new job.  He was being threatened with eviction from his home, he was out of money, and desperate for help.  The client was going to need more than just brief advice.  Brett and David took the initiative to help the client beyond the brief advice available at Street Law and took the case under the supervision of Lauren Scholnick and Kass Harstad from Strindberg & Scholnick, LLC.  After reviewing all of the information that the client provided, the issue seemed to weigh heavily in the client’s favor.  There were conflicting reports as to why the client was fired and David and Brett were confident that they had a good case to bring on appeal. 

David and Brett researched the issues and prepared arguments and witnesses for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.  They prepared the client for the hearing, and examined witnesses on direct and cross examination.  They presented the evidence and arguments and, at the end of the hearing, felt confident that their client had the law on his side.  When the denial of the appeal came, all involved were very disappointed. 

The client had one more possibility of recourse; an appeal before the Workforce Appeals Board.  The Workforce Appeals Board reviews decisions by the ALJ, but getting them to hear the appeal is a difficult task.  Confident that their client had a good case Brett and David drafted a brief and made the appeal.  The whole process was much lengthier and more time consuming than they had anticipated when taking the case, but David and Brett stuck with it and saw it through to the end.  After all of their time and effort, the Workforce Appeals Board approved the appeal and the client was awarded unemployment benefits for the months that it had been denied.  The client was able to pay off his debt, keep his apartment, and has found a job.  Great work by some dedicated, compassionate, and smart law students!



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