Joel Liberson and Jason Wolford are VLSP's January 2006 Volunteers of the Month!
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
- Organization: VLSP
Joel Liberson Jason Wolford
Since they began volunteering with the Volunteer Legal Services Program in 2003, attorneys Joel Liberson and Jason Wolford have established themselves as reliable volunteers. They frequently represent tenants pro bono through VLSP's Eviction Defense Project and are already familiar faces with the recently launched Courthouse Project. Joel and Jason consistently go above and beyond the call of duty in their pro bono work, and are January's Volunteers of the Month.
When asked about why they are so committed to doing pro bono work, they respond: "Lawyers undergo extensive training and are equipped to utilize their skills and knowledge to improve lives…Through commitment to pro bono, lawyers give a voice to those who are typically neglected in the complicated world of the legal system."
Both attorneys recognize that there are few issues that are more fundamentally important to people than having a place to call home, and they emphasize how the process of representing individuals and families who are faced with eviction is intrinsically rewarding. They explain why there is a critical local need for free legal assistance: "Due to rent control in San Francisco, the unfortunate reality is that long-term tenants who pay the least rent are frequently facing eviction on dubious grounds." Recently, Joel and Jason have also become regular volunteers with VLSP's Courthouse Project. The Courthouse Project began in May 2005 as a way to address the huge need of pro per litigants in eviction cases and to enable busy attorneys to volunteer with a minimal time commitment. In this project, volunteer attorneys provide limited scope representation to unrepresented litigants during their court mandated settlement conferences. The attorneys say the experience is "extremely gratifying because the mere appearance of a lawyer significantly alters these hearings and results in a level playing field with landlords."
Several months ago, both attorneys left the law firm Gordon & Rees, where they met four years ago, to start their own practice. As Joel said, "leaving the comforts of a well-established and growing law firm was certainly a risky endeavor," but he and Jason eagerly embraced the opportunity to start their own practice. The goal was to start a firm that would enable them to "focus primarily on assisting individuals and small businesses with their legal needs while remaining active in the pro bono community." Based upon this philosophy, Liberson & Wolford was born.
Jason lives with his wife and two young sons in Marin County. Prior to attending law school, he worked for many years in the sport fish industry and holds a Coast Guard Masters License. Joel, a bachelor, lives in the East Bay. He worked as a Certified Public Accountant and stockbroker/financial consultant prior to attending law school. In his spare time, Joel enjoys travel, sports and volunteering with the Jewish Coalition on Literacy.
For more information about pro bono opportunities with VLSP, please contact VLSP's Volunteer Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.