October Volunteer Feature: Second Acts® Attorney Helps Senior Citizen Regain Deed to Home and Life Savings
Roger Hawke, a retired partner formerly with Sidley Austin LLP, is a Second Acts® attorney with The Legal Aid Society's Brooklyn Office for the Aging ("BOFTA"). Second Acts® is a pilot project, funded by the Pro Bono Institute, to establish innovative and replicable public interest law opportunities for transitioning and retired attorneys. Since January of 2009, he has worked two days a week with BOFTA, providing outstanding legal assistance to low-income elderly Brooklyn residents and expanding the office's scope of services.
Mr. Hawke's exemplary representation of an elderly veteran exposed a scam to fraudulently gain title to the client's home and steal his life savings of $25,000. The client had met an "advocate" in Family Court where she had offered to assist him with a child support case. Believing that she was helping him, the client gave her documents, including the deed to his home. Unbeknownst to the client, the "advocate" forged his signature on a transfer deed and on a power of attorney form, enabling her to withdraw funds from client's bank account. Mr. Hawke initiated two separate successful New York State Supreme court actions to have the forged deed expunged and the wrongfully taken life savings returned to its rightful owner. The case was covered by the New York Daily News in which Mr. Hawke stated, "It's so easy to take the property away but so difficult to correct it." Mr. Hawke will be recognized for his exemplary lawyering at 2009 The Legal Aid Society's Pro Bono Awards presided over by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman.