Pro Bono Matters

The Newsletter of the Public Law Center                                 May 2010

In This Issue
Sheppard Wins $4M Award
2010 Armory Clinics Help the Homeless
PLC collaborates with UCI School of Law
Thanks to OCBA Charitable Fund
Rural Break 2010

VFJ 2010 Logo

Law Firm of the Year
O'Melveny & Myers LLP 
Attorney of the Year
Pearl Gondrella Mann
Corporate Partner of the Year
Association of Business Trial Lawyers
of Orange County
Community Partner of the Year
Share Our Selves
Distinguished Keynote Speaker
Aric Press
Editor in Chief of The American Lawyer 
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Thank you to the

Access to Justice Annual Fund Donors 

PLC's work is life-changing for thousands of children, families, adults and seniors each year. They depend upon PLC for assistance in civil matters that threaten their safety and security in basic areas of living. PLC, in turn depends upon the financial support of the Access to Justice Annual Fund to ensure that Orange County's low-income residents receive vitally needed legal assistance. Make your contribution to the Access to Justice Annual Fund Today.

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       Anyone who says they know exactly when the economy will rebound and our lives will return to normal is engaging in wishful thinking.  Sure there are many signs that the recession may be over.  But ask the family facing loss of a job and an impending foreclosure or the disabled senior unsure of how mounting medical bills will get paid.  Ask them if the recession is over.  Our clients' resilience inspires us to become an even better pathway to justice for our clients and a pathway to meaningful volunteer opportunities for the nearly 1,000 lawyers, law students and others who work with us each year. 
       One under-reported casualty of the recession has been the impact of the Federal Reserve's decision to set the Federal Funds rate at near 0% on civil legal services throughout the country.  Interest on Lawyers' Trust Account (IOLTA) programs had become one of the largest sources of funding for legal aid until the recession brought interest rates and IOLTA revenues tumbling down.  Fortunately, the State Bar had IOLTA reserves so the impact wasn't totally devastating.  Nonetheless, programs like PLC saw enormous cuts to IOLTA funding last year and again this year.  The longer the Federal Funds rate remains at near 0%, the more dire the situation will become since those reserves are nearly exhausted.
       That's why it's so important that we receive your financial support.  There are two things you can do.  You can support PLC's Annual Volunteers for Justice Dinner and Silent Auction on June 21 as we honor some of the champions who make life better for low-income Orange County residents.  In addition to tremendous networking with over 700 lawyers, judges and others our Silent Auction presents some phenomenal shopping opportunities. You can also support PLC's Access to Justice Annual FundWe greatly thank those who have already pledged their support.  You can join them with a simple secure on-line donation.
       Last year has been challenging and no doubt this year and next will continue to present significant challenges.  Yet in the face of unprecedented demand for our help, we at PLC have no alternative but to move forward - exploring new funding sources, developing new collaborations, strengthening existing ones, making our operations more efficient.  Our clients, indeed the entire community, expect and deserve nothing less.  

Ken Babcock
Executive Director
Over $4 Million Award Obtained for Sheppard Mullin Pro Bono Client
       Sheppard Mullin partner Jennifer Trusso and associate Aaron Fennimore unraveled a very sophisticated fraudulent scheme obtaining a $4 million award for their pro bono client. Read more ...
Winter Armory Clinics Help 185 Homeless Men, Women & Children
       The PLC legal clinic at the armories consists of nothing more than two long folding tables and whatever chairs might be available for us to use that night. It wasn't uncommon for our clinic to be moved around to a different location on a given night, or for our volunteers to conduct interviews while standing due to a lack of chairs. Read more ...
UCI School of Law & PLC Collaborate to Involve Students
       When PLC learned that the long hoped for University of California, Irvine law school would be a reality, and that the goal of that school was to provide their students with real-life experiences in public interest work, we immediately got to work. Read more ...
OCBA Charitable Fund Supports Public Law Center
       Each year PLC and several other deserving local non-profits receive generous grants made possible by gifts to the Orange County Bar Association Charitable Fund. PLC could not meet the increased demand for our legal services without donations from those who believe in the justice system and believe that supporting lawyers supports the community. Read more...
Rural Break 2010:  From the OC to the CV
       Three PLC attorneys took a group of twelve Whittier Law School law students who gave up their spring break to travel to Coachella Valley and provide assistance to poor, immigrant farm workers living there. PLC partnered with the California Rural Legal Assistance office in the Coachella Valley to train the law students on immigrant rights and workers' rights. Read more ... or view photos of the trip.