Who Does Pro Bono?
Some examples of the many who do Pro Bono work follow:
A mother of five children, our client was trying again to leave her husband of fourteen years. She could see that the violence between herself and her spouse was now being reflected in their children’s behavior.
The parties had been separated for a month. Our client was living in a one-bedroom apartment with three of the children and her spouse was in the marital home with the two others.
When the client contacted Utah Legal Services, she had filed for a Protective Order but the Judge dismissed her request because the Judge told her it was a communication problem and not something that should be dealt with through a Protective Order.
The client described locking herself in the bathroom a number of times to get away from her husband. He would sometimes still try to force the door open or would hit his head against the door. Another time, our client was cooking food in a hot pan when her husband got angry and hit the wall with the hot pan. He threatened to hit her next time instead of the wall. Our client continued to describe several incidents of domestic violence including restraining her from leaving a room by grabbing her wrists. Her husband was also starting to treat their children, and in particular, the oldest girl, with verbal threats and abuse. Our client feared that her oldest son was learning to treat her the same way his father had treated her for the last fourteen years.
After two failed placements with pro bono attorneys, Tracey Watson stepped in and agreed to represent our client and help her obtain a divorce. With diligence and perseverance, Ms. Watson managed to settle the case and work out a custody arrangement that was agreeable to both parties. Our client and her children are now in counseling and are on the road to learning how to develop healthy productive relationships with each other.
Mr. Fetzer litigated a contested adopton case and helped ensure that a seven year old girl could stay with the mom who provided a safe and stable home life for her.
Our client had been given the child by her biological mother when she was four years old. Our client was a third cousin to the mother,and had been around the girl since she was born. She had filed a uncontested petition for guardianship but determined she needed to adopt the child to receive financial assistance.
The child had been abused and raped by her biological mother’s boyfriend’s son, she was been treated for mental problems, her teeth were rotten with caps, and she had bugs in her hair. When she first started to live with our client, she lied and tried to steal things. However, our client had her in therapy and she was doing much better. The biological mother had seven other kids all who were taken away form her. She had been arrested on several occasions for drug use.
When Mr. Fetzer accepted the case, we were hopeful that the adoption would proceed uncontested. Unfortunately, the biological mother immediately started to demand the physical return of her daughter and contested the adoption. Mr. Fetzer proceeded with trial and was eventually victorious and terminating the parental rights and getting the adoption ordered.
Smith Hartvigsen, PLLC - Steven Stewart
Smith Hartvigsen, led by Steven Stewart, has been covering the second Tuesday of every month at the Guadalupe Clinic for the last three years.
The Guadalupe Clinic which meets every week for two hours on Tuesday evenings at the Guadalupe School sees a wide variety of legal issues. Over the course of the last few years, Mr. Stewart has recruited a group of volunteer attorneys from his firm that attend the Clinic.
These individuals are: Bryan Bryner, Kyle Fielding, Jeffry Gittins, James Morgan, Christopher Preston, and Kathryn Steffey.
Smith Hartvigsen have been instrumental in expanding the Clinic to allow for an internet connection and have been known to provide their own printer and paper so participants leave with information in hand. We would like to thank Mr. Stewart and Smith Hartvigsen for their commitment and hard work at the Clinic each month.
The Law Firm of Ballard Spahr
We would like to thank Ballard Spahr for their donation of $1000.00 to Utah Legal Services’ Pro Bono Program.
Tony Kaye and Steven Burt received an award from Ballard Spahr for work they did on a ULS foreclosure scam pro bono case. Mr. Kaye & Mr. Burt then designated ULS as the recipient of the donation and award.
We would like to thank Ballard Spahr, Tony Kaye & Steven Burt for their numerous hours of pro bono time and now money!
Anthony C. Kaye is a partner in the Litigation Department of Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, LLP. He focuses his practice on business litigation and complex civil litigation at both the trial and appellate levels in federal and state courts throughout the United States. He is a member of the firm’s Business Litigation Group, Construction Group, Product Liability and Mass Tort Group, Intellectual Property Group, Franchise and Distribution Group, Life Sciences/ Technology Group and Telecommunications Group. Mr. Kaye is also a member of the firm's Pro Bono Committee and coordinates the firm's pro bono program in Utah. Steven D. Burt is an associate in the Litigation Department of Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, LLP. He concentrates his practice in civil litigation as well as labor, employment and immigration law. Mr. Burt has represented clients in a variety of industries, including a resort developer in a contract dispute with a general contractor, a large multinational corporation suing a former employee for divulging trade secrets and violating a noncompete agreement, and a former business partner seeking to recover ownership in a business. Mr. Burt regularly represents businesses and individuals in employment and contract dispute matters. Mr. Burt is committed to and has participated in the pro bono representation of those with limited access to legal representation, garnering him the honor of being named to the Utah Pro Bono Honor Roll.
Maria–Nicolle Beringer, on a pro bono fellowship with the firm Dewey LeBoeuf, started to volunteer with Utah Legal Services in March of 2009.
In the last six months, she has taken a case in every subject matter possible at every stage of the process.
Mrs. Beringer has:
1. Assisted clients at the intake and screening stage;
2. Provided brief advice on the Bankruptcy hotline;
3. Represented petitioners at their Protective Order hearings;
4. Investigated and developed foreclosure scam cases and then,
5. Helped place the foreclosure scam cases with volunteer attorneys;
6. Researched legal issues in a wrongful garnishment consumer case’
7. Litigated a contested divorce case; and
8. Drafted documents for our Domestic Relations Manual.
There is not a task too small or too large for Mrs. Beringer to handle. We thank you Nicolle for your time and hard work at Utah Legal Services
Utah Legal Services was contacted by a Legal Services organization in Pennsylvania asking if we could find local counsel to help with a contested adoption case. The attorney in Pennsylvania was representing the birth mother. The adoption agency in Utah had not followed Pennsylvania law and had illegally taken the child to Utah. A case was pending in Utah and required an attorney to let the Utah Court know of the Pennsylvania matter. This was not the sort of case a low income single mother of three could afford to handle as a pro se litigant. In fact, she could barely get enough money together to travel the distance for the hearing.
Much to the relief of the birth mother and her family, as well as the Pennsylvania Legal Services attorney, Lisa Lokken accepted this difficult case, on a pro bono basis. Ms. Lokken has already spent well over 300 hours briefing and arguing the issues. We are still waiting for a final decision in this case.