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July Volunteer of the Month Andrew Ogilvie

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

  • By: Psyche Philips
  • Organization: VLSP


Andrew Ogilvie Helps Consumers Navigate the Twists and Turns of Consumer Law

By Psyche Philips, VLSP Program Administrator

Andrew Ogilvie cannot remember how he heard about the Volunteer Legal Services Program, but he knows that "it was more than 20 years ago." In his long history of volunteering for VLSP, Andrew has helped many clients stay afloat; one of his VLSP debt collection cases even went to the California Supreme Court. "The bank was obstinate, I was tenacious, and the client had faith," he remembers about that particular trial. Andrew Ogilvie is July's Volunteer of the Month because of his dedication to pro bono work and long-standing commitment to helping low-income clients through VLSP's Consumer Project.

VLSP's Consumer Project helps clients out of the cycle of poverty through effective budgeting and bankruptcy advice, collection defense, and education on consumer scams.

Andrew says that his most recent case through VLSP is "an example of one of thousands of cases that come through San Francisco every year," in which companies literally buy debt from creditors and demand immediate payment from the consumer. "These debt buying companies only have a print-out with the consumer's information and a dollar amount, and they are often unable to prove their case in court when challenged," Andrew says. Most of the time, consumers lose these cases because they cannot afford a lawyer, and there currently aren't enough pro bono attorneys to meet the demand. "The bank plays a very technical game and you have to play it too. Having an attorney balances the system out for clients who don't know consumer law."

"It's always interesting to deal with pro bono clients," Andrew observes. "Sometimes there are language barriers, and it often takes more time to get them to understand the legal process than my corporate clients, but they are always the most appreciative."

Andrew and his wife just returned from a trip to Europe during which their cruise ship rescued 22 survivors from a boat that sank in the Aegean Sea on its journey from Libya to Athens. When he isn't traveling the world or helping VLSP clients navigate the depths of consumer law, Andrew is focused on expanding his practice to include more debt collection and credit reporting cases.

For more information on VLSP's Consumer Project, or to find out how you can volunteer with VLSP, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Ruby Corral at vlsp@sfbar.orgor call 415.782.8956.

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