Mary was excited to be pregnant. She adored her young child and was thrilled at the prospect of having another. One day, she experienced a pain and went to the emergency room.
Unfortunately, she miscarried. She then developed sepsis and lost both her arms and legs. Despite this tragic development, she worked on getting her strength back. Mary bonded with the nurses at the hospital. She explored prostheses. Mary’s mom found a great rehab center near her mom’s home in New York. And Mary, her boyfriend, and her young child prepared to go back to New York.
While in the hospital, Mary’s boyfriend changed his mind and decided that Mary’s illness was more than he bargained for. He told her he was not going to New York, and served her with custody papers seeking full custody of their child. Mary told her nurses that she could endure anything, but not losing her child. The nurses called the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada.
Christopher had that certain something. He had incredible dimples, and a desire to play basketball or work in music production. His biological father was missing in action; his mother didn’t want him. Christopher came into the child welfare system. Despite it all, Christopher ended up being an AP student about to graduate from high school. Then a call came in. Christopher was to be expelled: he mouthed off to a teacher. Christopher called his pro bono attorney through the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada.
Every day, the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada receives calls like these. And each day, we find a way to help those in need in our community. In most of these cases we accept, the playing field is not level: either the client is facing an unbelievable hardship or will be lost trying to navigate the legal system on their own.
The Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada is a non-profit organization, and is able to serve individuals in need through donations, grants, and philanthropy. We have 29 attorneys: 11 representing abused or neglected children, five representing victims of domestic violence or those needing help in family court, and nine attorneys helping defrauded consumers. In addition to our staff attorneys, we have about 1,000 private attorneys who volunteer with our Center. Many of the best attorneys in town volunteer with us.
Want to get involved? One easy way is to accept a case. There are cases of all varieties, and twice a month, we send a list of all available cases to our attorneys. Too busy to take a case? We have “Ask-A-Lawyer” opportunities for attorneys. A lawyer can choose from a wide variety of programs in all areas of the law. We will provide free continuing legal education for any lawyer willing to help and will allow attorneys to pair up with a more experienced mentor to gain experience.
In case you were wondering, after receiving the call from the nurses, one of Legal Aid Center’s attorneys went to the hospital to see Mary. We agreed to help Mary, filed a response to the lawsuit, and after explaining the facts to the judge, and agreeing to reasonable visitation for the father, Mary received permission to move back to New York with her daughter. In the case of Christopher, a prominent gaming attorney volunteering with the Legal Aid Center represented him. As a result, Christopher was not expelled. At the end of the case, she asked Christopher if he was scared. He said “nah, Miss Kate. I wasn’t scared. It wasn’t fair to expel me for what I did. And you were here. So, I knew it’d be okay.” Sometimes lawyers forget why they went to law school. These types of clients remind you why.
If you are interested, please call Melanie Kushnir, Pro Bono Project Director, at 386-1070, x. 137, or email Melanie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Barbara Buckley is the executive director of Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada and has been with Legal Aid Center since 1989. Barbara also served in the Nevada Legislature from 1994-2010 and as the Speaker of the Nevada Assembly from 2007-2010.
Legal Aid Center, www.lacsn.org