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Oklahoma Lawyers Making Equal Justice for all a Reality

In the Loop: March 2013

Friday, March 29, 2013

  • By: Christa Figgins
  • Organization: Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma

Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma (LASO) announces the monthly edition of In the Loop e-mail newsletter. 

We plan to share information each month on LASO news, Pro Bono information and other relevant stories that will be of interest to our readers.  Learn how LASO and its community partners are helping Oklahomans every day. 

 

 

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Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma (LASO)
March, 2013
 
 
 
 
A Monthly E-Newsletter Connecting Oklahomans with What's New at LASO
 
 
"America is a land of opportunity and don’t ever forget it."
-- Will Rogers
 
What is LASO?
 
Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma (LASO) is a 501 (c) (3) organization that provides free civil legal assistance to eligible low-income individuals and their families and to the elderly. This service is provided through its 21 law offices that are strategically-located throughout the state so that they can serve clients in every county. These Law Offices are in Ardmore, Bartlesville, Hugo, Lawton, Muskogee, Norman, Oklahoma City, Stillwater, Tulsa and Weatherford. There are smaller satellite offices in Ada, Altus, Chickasha, Duncan, Enid, Jay, McAlester, Poteau, Shawnee, Stilwell, and Woodward. The administrative office is in Oklahoma City.
 
Our mission? To be a partner in the community making equal justice for all a reality.
 
To help handle the demand, hundreds of private Oklahoma attorneys volunteer their time and expertise to Legal Aid. Sometimes they teach in our legal clinics, but most often they advise clients and help them fill out legal forms, or they take on simple cases for full representation. In 2012, 292 private attorneys statewide handled at least one Legal Aid case, and a total of 1074 pro bono cases were closed.
 
In 2012 the LASO legal staff and pro bono attorneys closed 10,357 cases statewide. The biggest demand for the services of LASO is for family law, including cases involving domestic violence. Children are the biggest benefactors as LASO strives to stabilize their families through the issues of custody, child support, and divorce. LASO also represents the elderly seeking social security or other public benefits or in helping the elderly resolve the issues of guardianship. LASO helps individuals faced with losing their housing through evictions or mortgage foreclosures and with cases involving Medicare, Medicaid, and other health care problems, helping them gain the benefits for which they qualify. 
Making a Difference Through Pro Bono Service
 
Have you checked out ProBono.net?  If you would like to help make a difference in the lives of low-income Oklahomans, you should!  ProBono.net is a website containing helpful resources for pro bono and legal services lawyers, advocates, legal professionals and law students to assist in the representation of low-income or disadvantaged clients.
 
On the ProBono.net site you can view cases awaiting placement, view legal resource materials, sign up for the Pro Bono E-Newsletter, and register to attend webinar trainings. 
 
Please take a look at ProBono.net today and see how you can help one of our low-income neighbors!
LASO Director of Advocacy Adrienne Watt featured in Oklahoma Magazine
 
LASO Director of Advocacy Adrienne Watt is featured in the current issue of Oklahoma Magazine as a member of the 2013 "40 Under 40" class, profiling Oklahoma's top young leaders.  Adrienne, a tireless advocate for low-income Oklahomans, also serves as a Board Member for several other non-profit organizations, including OCCJ, the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra, Theatre Tulsa, and the National Federation for Just Communities.  Congratulations, Adrienne!  To read more about Adrienne and her fellow young leaders, visit Oklahoma Magazine
Free CLE Training
 
A Spring Seminar for Legal Aid's Volunteer Attorneys will be held in Tulsa on Wednesday April 24 , 2013 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the OSU-Tulsa Conference Center, 700 North Greenwood, North Hall, Room 150.  Topics will include
  • Bankruptcy
  • Counseling a Distressed Client
  • How to Handle a Paternity Case
  • Is A Living Will Really a Will?
  • Foreclosure Basics
  • Oklahoma Attorney General's Foreclosure Program
This seminar is FREE to for lawyers actively serving on Legal Aid's Pro Bono Program.
 
For more information, please contact:
 
Karen Langdon
Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma
918-295-9422
 
or visit probono.net/ok.   
Welcome to LASO's Enewsletter
We are happy you are "In the Loop"
 
Welcome to LASO's monthly "In the Loop" E-newsletter!  We know you get a lot of email, so all of us here at LASO will strive to include information each month on LASO News, Pro Bono Information, and other stories that will be of use and interest to our readers.  Please keep reading and learn how LASO is helping Oklahomans every day.
 
LASO Receives $37,715.00 Cy Pres Award
Norman Attorney M. Kathi Rawls donates again
 
M. Kathi Rawls, left, presents a Cy Pres check to LASO Program Administrator Cindy Luster
 
Norman Consumer Protection Attorney M. Kathi Rawls, long a strong supporter of LASO's work on behalf of low-income and elderly Oklahomans, has again presented LASO with another large Cy Pres gift.  
 
The Cy Pres doctrine (from the Norman French term "cy pres comme possible," (meaning ‘as near as possible’) is a court-approved method of distributing a damage fund when the original purpose cannot be achieved.
 
In class action lawsuits, if there is to be a payment of damages to class members, a fund is created. After class members’ claims are paid, there is often an amount remaining. Under the doctrine of Cy Pres, judges and class counsel can recommend that residual funds be distributed to the "next best" use. The Cy Pres Funds may be distributed to purposes that have a nexus to the underlying purpose of the litigation. The courts have broad discretion in this area and can define nexus in 1) very broad, general terms, 2) by specific populations to be served, or 3) in terms of a particular legal or subject area. 
 
Most court awards now being distributed to legal services programs are happening as a result of settlement discussions between the parties, where there is an agreement between them that a charitable donation to legal services is in order. Such contributions are often being offered by defense counsel.
 
Kathi recently settled a class action consumer case and proposed that LASO be the recipient of any residual funds.  Opposing counsel and the Court agreed, resulting in a $37,715.00 donation to LASO that will be used to fund legal advocacy on behalf of consumers.  This is not the first Cy Pres gift Kathi has directed to support LASO; four prior gifts initiated by Kathi in her cases have previously generated $31,500.00 in awards to LASO.   
 
All of us at LASO would like to thank Kathi for her kindness to LASO and for her efforts to help provide legal services to our low-income neighbors.
 
If you would like more information on how to direct Cy Pres or other court-directed funds to LASO, please contact Christa.Figgins@laok.org
 
Your Contributions Make a Difference
LASO Client Story
 
Mrs. Jones* came to LASO for a divorce from her abusive spouse, with whom she had two small children.  Mr. Jones had a drug problem and had been abusive to Mrs. Jones, a stay-at-home mother, throughout their marriage, including punching Mrs. Jones in the face in the presence of their children.  They separated after a later incidence of violent abuse, which also occurred in front of their children. 
 
When Mrs. Jones applied for services at LASO, she vowed to get out of the abusive relationship and make a better life for herself and her children. 
 
A temporary order was entered giving Mrs. Jones full custody of the children.  In the final decree, LASO obtained an order granting Mrs. Jones child support and Mr. Jones supervised visitation with his children upon completion of alcohol treatment, drug treatment, and passage of a drug test. 
  
Ms. Jones, free from her abusive marriage, is now attending college so she can obtain suitable employment to support herself and secure a bright future for herself and her children. 
 
Your help makes it possible for LASO advocates to assist clients like Mrs. Jones make a better life.  Thank you!
 
*Name changed to protect identity.
 
March 2013 Feature Volunteer
Daniel Ede
 
 
Lawyers at LASO's Tulsa Law Office refer to Daniel Ede as a committed, dedicated and tireless pro bono volunteer.

For two decades, Ede has donated hundreds of hours of pro bono legal assistance to clients in the Tulsa area as well as six surrounding counties through his work with LASO. “Daniel has been very active for years, handling at least one family law case at all times.” stated Karen Langdon, Pro Bono Coordinator, “but this winter, because the need was so great, he agreed to take on seven cases at once.” Ede also agreed to learn new areas of the law, such as expungement, even though he had little familiarity with them in his prior practice.
 
In 1988, Ede graduated with a Juris Doctor from Stetson College of Law, St Petersburg, FL. He then served as a Florida Assistant State Attorney and later worked in private practice in suburban Chicago. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Oral Roberts University and a Master of Sciences from Oklahoma State University. Prior to practicing law, Ede taught at ORU and later on, obtained Insurance Licenses in Life and Health in Oklahoma and South Carolina. He currently works in private practice in Tulsa County in the areas of Domestic Relations, Estate Planning and Insurance & Benefits consulting.
 
Ede’s dedication to reach out to serve Oklahoma’s neediest continued even during a challenging time in his own family’s life. One year ago his teenage daughter, a competitive trampolinist, suffered a spinal cord injury, a diagnosis which expected to leave her a quadriplegic. Supported by family and friends, she set out to beat the odds. What looked like a hopeless situation soon shifted to an outcome of remarkable recovery.
 
As a volunteer attorney, Ede helps achieve successful outcomes for low-income persons who may feel hopeless and find themselves in a difficult civil legal situation. His pro bono work increases LASO’s capacity to provide representation to our state’s otherwise legally deprived families, individuals, and seniors.
 
All of us at LASO would like to thank Mr. Ede for his dedication:  Thank you!
 
Funders
LASO's work would not be possible without the assistance of the Legal Services Corporation, the Oklahoma Bar Foundation, and the United Way.  Thank you! 
 
 
   
 

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