Denver Bar Association
December 2007
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A Letter of Thanks to DBA Volunteers

by Carolyn Gravit

Dear Volunteers:

On Sept. 26, 2007, the Denver Bar Association and the DBA Access to Justice Committee hosted a volunteer appreciation party at the Grant-Humphreys Mansion. The party was to thank the many individuals who volunteer their time, energy, expertise and resources in service to the community. More than 400 attorney, paralegal and court volunteers were invited to toast their successful community contributions and efforts.

The DBA is honored to have so many service-oriented members who commit themselves to performing works of service in the community. The DBA–ATJ Committee, under the dedicated leadership of co-chairs Matthew Willis and Ilene Bloom, is an example of a DBA group that emphasizes service within community.

Pro Se Clinics

The volunteer programs of the DBA are a collaborative effort. Without our partners, we wouldn’t be able to offer these legal services to the community. We have had record public attendance at all of the pro se clinics during 2007. Our heartfelt gratitude is extended to the following:

  • The Denver District and County Courts, for opening courtrooms for our divorce clinics

  • The judges in the Denver County Court Civil Division, for the use of your courtrooms for the small claims and collections clinics

  • The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the use of space; Donna Reigner for coordinating the bankruptcy clinics; and Jon Nicholls for leading these clinics

  • Michelle Chorens and the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development, which conducts a monthly clinic that covers child support and alimony issues.

We could not have these clinics without all of our volunteer instructors: Joan E. Smith, Katherine Karuschkat, Darlene Mann, Robert Wolf, Robert Butcher, Kerri Page Parker, David Neslin, Tom Wagner, Elizabeth Strapp, Tom J. Dougherty, Scott Kelley, Jordan Hochstadt and Susan Larsen.

Legal Night at Mi Casa

In February 2006, attorneys Timothy Macdonald and Matthew Willis co-founded and organized Legal Night at Mi Casa. This is a project of the DBA–ATJ Committee, DBA Young Lawyers Division and the Colorado Lawyers Committee. Attorney volunteers provide free legal information regarding immigration, employment, housing, criminal and family law to indigent clients. Since it opened its doors to the community, approximately 100 people have attended Legal Night at Mi Casa each month.

Legal Night was so successful in serving the community that an "offshoot," Legal Night at El Centro San Juan Diego, started in February 2007. These Legal Nights have served more than 1,500 people in the last year.

Susan Cole, a senior legal assistant at Arnold & Porter received this year’s Pro Bono Paralegal of the Year award by the Colorado Bar Association. Susan coordinates Legal Night at Mi Casa and Legal Night at El Centro San Juan Diego.

The Colorado Lawyers Committee, under the direction of executive director Connie Talmage, created a task force that also helped create the Legal Nights, and it continues to support Legal Nights in countless ways.

Lawline 9

The DBA Lawline 9 program will celebrate its 15th anniversary in 2007. This is a weekly program where attorneys field legal questions from the public. Lawline 9 would not be possible without the partnership of 9News and the program’s champions, Ann King and Paula Woodward. Ann, Paula and the 9News team have successfully developed a program that works. They welcome each volunteer; provide food and beverages; give tours of the studio; and are quick to attribute the program’s success to the work of the volunteers (with 222 volunteers a year, that is a lot of cookies!).

In 2007, the DBA and 9News also started the DBA Young Lawyers Division morning Lawline 9 on the second Thursday of each month. A special thank-you is extended to DBA–YLD Executive Committee members who have made themselves available at 5:30 a.m. to staff this Lawline 9! We expect this program to be around for many more years.

Community Events

Numerous community events take place throughout the year. Volunteer attorneys and paralegals are always on hand to staff these events, and the DBA extends its appreciation to them. Among the events are:

  • People’s Fair
  • Educating for Citizenship — CELD Conference
  • High School Mock Trial
  • We the People class curriculum
  • Classroom Speaker’s Bureau
  • Constitution Day
  • Court Tours
  • Homeless Veterans’ Stand-Down

On Sept. 17, 2007, the DBA Democracy Education Committee and co-chairs Jim Carr and Sue Kim supported national Constitution Day by getting involved with youth education to teach students about the Constitution and the American system of democracy. Thirty-three volunteers devoted 55 classroom hours and visited 15 Denver Public Schools: Bruce Randolph, Hamilton, Henry, Horace Mann, Rachel B. Noel, and Rishel middle schools; Bryant Webster, Centennial, Dora Moore and Slavens K–8 schools; Emerson Street School; Emily Griffith Alternative School; John F. Kennedy and North High Schools; and MLK Early College. Thanks to all of the volunteers who participated in this successful day.

Thank You, Volunteers!

These services work like a well-tuned car. The programs are the vehicles, and our partners are the motors that make it run. But no car runs without fuel, and our volunteers are the fuel that makes these programs move forward.

The DBA greatly appreciates our partners and volunteers for all of their efforts in providing much-needed legal services in our community. During my eight years of working with state bar associations, I never have derived more pleasure from my job than I do from working with the wonderful volunteers each day. On behalf of the DBA, I would like to express my immense gratitude to you for your good work and support of public legal education and legal services in Denver.

Sincerely,


Carolyn P. Gravit
Director, Public Legal Education
Denver Bar Association


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