Elizabeth McBride, Sally Lee, Lacey Bangle & Kristin Cornuelle
Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
Domestic Violence Collaborative
Silicon Valley intellectual property managing associates Elizabeth McBride and Sally Lee, and San Francisco litigation associate Lacey Bangle, supervised by Portland intellectual property managing associate Kristin Cornuelle, recently secured victories for their clients in court in connection with securing a final order of protection against their former abusive partners, and also securing custody rights to their clients' children. These cases are part of Orrick's long-standing commitment to the Domestic Violence Collaborative in San Mateo County, which is focused on providing representation to victims of domestic violence who are trying to regain their independence and dignity.
Elizabeth and Sally's client was in an abusive relationship with her boyfriend, with whom she had a 2-year-old daughter. There were many incidents where the client faced severe physical and verbal abuse. At the hearing, Elizabeth successfully argued that the court should enter a final, three-year restraining order and grant the client full physical and legal custody of her daughter with no visitation rights to the father.
Lacey's client was also in a physically and verbally abusive relationship with her boyfriend, with whom she had a daughter. Lacey first represented the client successfully at a hearing in which the court granted the client a final restraining order. Approximately three weeks later, Lacey represented the client in a child custody hearing, through which the client was awarded full legal and physical custody of her daughter, while the father is allowed only once-per-week supervised visitation.
As one Orrick attorney said, “Orrick rarelygets hired for the easy cases. With an outstanding array of impressiveclients and ground-breaking litigation, I’ve learned that “the hard is whatmakes it great. While I was surprisedthat my pro bono custody case presented almost as many challenges and hurdleas a complex patent case, the harder it got, the more rewarding it became.”
Fenwick & West LLP
Share of Cost Clinic
Lisa Kenkel, a Technology Transactions Partner at Fenwick & West recently volunteered at Legal Aid’s Share of Cost clinic. A team of pro bono volunteers from Fenwick & West and Facebook work with Legal Aid Health attorneys to hold monthly clinics where volunteers advise seniors and disabled adults about reducing or eliminating their Medi-Cal “share of cost” in order to access medical benefits. “Legal Aid Society of San Mateo provides essential services to the community. Their attorneys have incredible expertise in their field and passion for their work. I have worked alongside them in the monthly Share of Costs clinic helping low income seniors and people with disabilities obtain the critical health services they need.”
Morrison & Foerster LLP
As part of the Guardianship Project, Christopher’s first case was on behalf of a young girl named Samantha. Abandoned
by her father, Samantha was hungry and living off the streets. She was taken in by her father’s old girlfriend, Joanna, and Joanna’s family. Joanna and her husband grew to love Samantha and wanted to protect her from the neglect she suffered with her father. They came to Legal Aidfor help, and Christopher was assigned to their case. After listeningto their story, he filed guardianship petition as the first step of establishing Joanna as Samantha’s legal guardian. The state investigated the little girl’s situation and, deciding it was in her best interest, awarded the guardianship to Joanna.
Soon after Samantha’s father reappeared and tried to terminate the guardianship, alleging that Joanna mistreated Samantha. Christopher went back to court to fight the termination and keep Samantha safe. The court granted the father visitation rights but did not terminate the guardianship. Today, thanks to Christopher’s work, Samantha is thriving in a stable home with Joanna’s family.
In Christopher’s words: "It was very gratifying to help people in our community, and I look forward to working with Legal Aid on my next project."
Jessica Mendelson & Kristsa Celentano
As summer associates at DLA Piper, Jessica Mendelson and Krista Celentano worked on a guardianship case involving a little boy named Jason and his grandmother Laurie under supervising attorney Maggie Crawford. Jason’s parents separated even before he was born, and soon after his birth, his mother moved in with her mother Laurie. Soon thereafter, Jason’s mother left the home leaving Jason with Laurie full time. Laurie filed for guardianship of Jason because he was in her care full time. Initially, neither parent objected to Laurie obtaining guardianship of Jason, but later into the case, the father opposed the action.Krista and Jessica prepared the client for an evidentiary hearing, preparing her for being a witness. Jessica pointed out, "One thing that was great about working on this case was I got to see how the smaller tasks, like preparing direct examination questions or Westlaw research, helped shape the overall argument our side was making, and I realized just how important these tasks were."
At the evidentiary hearing the judge ruled in favor of Laurie’s guardianship of young Jason. "It was incredibly rewarding to have the guardianship granted, and our clients were so thankful for the work we had done," explained Krista. "As a summer associate interested in litigation, this was an amazing opportunity for me to work directly with a client in need of assistance, and to gain real trial experience." Krista went on to say, "What was the most career changing aspect of participating in the guardianship trial was that it taught me not to be afraid to expand into areas of law I was unfamiliar with. Though I had never worked on a guardianship matter before, by listening to the family involved I learned a lot about what it means to be a good lawyer and to really understand your client’s views. It also showed me how important it is to become involved in your community. The family we worked with grew up in the same surrounding area as I did, and I was able to connect with them on a personal level. It was a great learning experience and although I am practicing intellectual property law, there are so many ways to become directly involved in my community and provide legal services to those who need it most."
Jessica added, "I was so pleased Ms. Johnson received guardianship of Jason – not only was it a terrific result for her, but hearing that ruling really made me feel like the work I was doing made a significant difference in someone’s life!"
As a rising 2nd year law student, Katie Roe volunteered with Legal Aid's Housing Clinics. She is interested in elder law and housing law. Katie’s regular duties with Legal Aid included working at the housing clinics three times a week doing research for the attorneys, preparing litigation and background information and speaking directly with the clients in person and over the phone.
A case that Katie recalled in particular was the case involving a senior client named "Victor." Victor was given a 30 day notice to vacate because it was alleged that he had hit another resident. Katie spent a lot of face to face time with Victor, for whom English was a second language, as well as collected medical reports and a police report. With Katie’s help acting as an advocate, Victor was granted a grievance hearing, where the management of the building rescinded the 30 day notice and allowed Victor to continue living in his apartment.
According to Katie, "working at Legal Aid has reinforced that I’m on the right path – law school was the right choice for me." "Working at Legal Aid SMC has given me new motivation to go back and do really well because I know my end goal is to come back and work for some sort of legal aid association or law firm and help elderly clients."
Domestic Violence Collaborative
As a summer associate at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliff, Christine Hart, had the opportunity to work with the Domestic Violence Collaborative. "Our client had been in an abusive relationship with the respondent for several years and had a two-year-old daughter with him. In the course of two weeks, we gathered letters of support from our client’s friends and family, police reports corroborating our client’s story, and records from three criminal cases against the respondent, one of which resulted in a conviction of domestic battery against our client. "As a certified law student, I represented our client in court, and we obtained a 2-year restraining order to protect her, with temporary supervised visitation for their daughter, pending mediation and an order from the court regarding custody."
Christine described her experience as "fantastic". "I learned so much in a short period of time, and I developed a close, meaningful relationship with my client. Working with her, being an advocate on her behalf, in light of everything that she had gone through, and in light of what was at stake, was extremely rewarding"
To protect client confidentiality, all client names have been changed.