San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program (SDVLP) held its annual Justice For All Celebration on September 29 at Farmer & The Seahorse, honoring its 2022 pro bono service award recipients:
- Community Service Award:Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association
- Outstanding Law Firm: Latham & Watkins LLP
- Pro Bono Publico Award: Liliana Menzie, Attorney, DLA Piper LLP
In addition to the awards program, the event celebrated the volunteers, supporters and community members that allow SDVLP to continue to increase access to justice by providing pro bono legal assistance to members of the San Diego community. All proceeds from the event directly support SDVLP’s work to provide services to San Diegans struggling with devastating legal problems.
SDVLP’s Board President Elizabeth Brann kicked off the ceremony with a story about how she first got involved with the organization and briefly explained how SDVLP works. “We don’t just pay attorneys to do legal work; we pay attorneys to supervise other attorneys doing work pro bono,” said Brann. This model enables SDVLP to leverage volunteer attorneys to help the community in a way that goes beyond their typical practice areas.
Every year, SDVLP’s staff of fewer than 20 attorneys and 13 legal assistants provide services to over 6000 clients. “Our staff works alongside volunteer attorneys to mobilize their legal skills and share with them the work that we do to exponentially increase the number of clients we can serve,” said SDVLP CEO Jennifer Nelson.
Since the onset of the pandemic, SDVLP has seen an outpouring of support from the San Diego community and some of the highest volunteer hours donated in recent years. “In a period that should have broken an organization built on human connection, our staff’s ability to adapt and the legal community’s willingness to leap into action made SDVLP stronger than ever before,” added Nelson.
Recognized during the evening was one such organization, the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association (EBGBA), recipient of SDVLP’s Community Service Award. Supportive of SDVLP’s Microbusiness and Nonprofit Support Program, EBGBA recently played an instrumental role in helping SDVLP plan and publicize a Juneteenth Black Business Empowerment Clinic for low-income Black entrepreneurs.
Additionally, Latham and Watkins, recipient of SDVLP’s Outstanding Law Firm Award, donated hundreds of hours across SDVLP’s programs providing crucial pro bono legal services to low-income and disadvantaged San Diegans.
Lastly, Liliana Menzie of DLA Piper, recipient of SDVLP’s Pro Bono Publico Award, was recognized for donating over 500 hours of her time to pro bono representation of SDVLP clients, with a particular focus on guardianship matters.
“SDVLP exists because of the volunteer attorneys willing to donate their time and skills to help those in critical need of legal services,” said Nelson. “Whether you have two or 200 hours to give, we look forward to working with you as we take SDVLP to new heights.”
For more information about SDVLP and its mission to provide equal access to justice, visit www.sdvlp.org
San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program, Inc, founded in 1983, assists over 6,000 individuals annually, making the organization one of the largest providers of pro bono legal services in San Diego County. Lawyers from large firms to sole practitioners volunteer their time in a wide range of practice areas to assist abused women, children, the homeless, veterans, immigrants, the seriously ill and many others who otherwise would go without legal representation. SDVLP’s staff of 37 attorneys and administrators, working in four locations county-wide, train and mentor volunteers to make it easy and rewarding for any attorney to donate their time and provide access to justice for vulnerable populations. www.sdvlp.org
Photo ID: (L to R) Jessica England, Associate, Latham & Watkins LLP; Maresa Martin Talbert, President, Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association; Liliana Menzie, Attorney, DLA Piper LLP