Sharing Knowledge On Homelessness Across The Pond

We are so fortunate to have an integral role in legal help for the homeless in New Orleans.  In addition to working closely with the Homeless Experience Legal Protection program of shelter legal clinics there, attorney Sherry Dolan also acts at the coordinator of the New Orleans Homeless Court, and serves on the ABA’s Standing Committee on Homelessness and Poverty.  Recently, Sherry and Lilia Valdez-Lindsley, Veterans Justice Outreach Specialist for the New Orleans Veterans Administration, had the opportunity to host John Cassap, Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travelling Fellow, on a tour of several New Orleans area collaborative partners in that city’s efforts to end homelessness. (more…)

Amazing news here in Alabama this week, as the Southern Poverty Law Center announced that 54 towns across the State are ending their contracts with private probation company Judicial Correction Services. (Read about it here) Those who have followed my blog or the news in this area know that JCS (as well as some other private probation operations) charge a monthly fee to low income defendants on “pay only” probation, often resulting in already poor people paying hundreds or thousands more than their original fine, and sometimes being jailed for failing to pay, all because they were unable to pay in the first place. We call that debtors’ prison, and it’s unconstitutional. (more…)

Over the last several years, we’ve been proud to assist our pro bono client, River City Capital Investment Corporation, in its work to provide loan funding for small businesses in low income communities in the Memphis area. In addition to forming the entity and representing it in obtaining its 501(c)(3) tax exempt status, Carla Peacher-Ryan and others working with her in our Memphis office have had the opportunity to document and close all of the important, life altering loans River City Capital has made. So, we’re very excited that all the hard work has paid off in the form of River City Capital’s certification by the U.S. Department of Treasury as a Community Development Financial Institution, the only one of its kind in Memphis. (more…)

Work To End Homelessness Garners NLADA Award For Baker Donelson

This happy group of folks was very honored recently to accept Baker Donelson’s second NLADA Beacon of Justice Award in Washington, DC.  We were so proud to be included in the same company as firms who have been doing great work on important issues like immigration detention, housing, and serving those with mental illness through medical-legal partnership.  A full list of the award winners is available here. (more…)

I love it when a law firm mover and shaker, a legal profession mover and shaker, is also a pro bono mover and shaker. That’s why I am especially thrilled that Nancy Degan is the winner of Baker Donelson’s Firmwide Pro Bono Award for 2015. Nancy has long been a force to be reckoned with, at Baker Donelson and in the profession. (more…)

Recently, I drove about 300 miles round trip to attend traffic court in a rural Black Belt county in Alabama.

My client is a homeless veteran of the US Army. He served honorably, returned home and worked hard at a relatively low wage job, but unfortunately became involved with drugs and alcohol and his life went off the rails. During his decade long addiction, he got into a fair amount of minor trouble – traffic infractions mostly, including a misdemeanor DUI. He lost his job and became homeless. (more…)

It’s a great pleasure for a law firm to have the opportunity to partner with a nonprofit organization to provide pro bono services to both the organization itself and to the community it serves.  These are pro bono relationships we treasure, and that offer fulfilling opportunities to attorneys in varied practice areas.  (more…)

Let's Talk About Race And Pro Bono

There has been a great deal of sorely needed discussion lately about issues of racial inequality, racially disparate justice, and white privilege. I have always been one to think about these matters in my own life and work. In the world of pro bono, race is an ever present concern. Whether our society wants to admit it or not, it is obvious to those of us who do pro bono work regularly that the playing field is far from level in our justice system and otherwise. Of course, it’s even more obvious to people of color who are subjected to unequal treatment than it is to someone like me as a fairly close observer. (more…)