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Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin - Summer 2014

Birmingham Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program Pro Bono Answering the Call to Service Workers’ Compensation Section Provides Two Months of Pro Bono Help Find out how your BBA section can do the same Workers’ Compensation Section members volunteering at the Domestic Relations Help Desk: David Nomberg, Sia Newman, Jeannie Walston, and Kevin Berry. Three times a week, at every Help Desk that the Birmingham Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program organizes, members of the Workers’ Compensation Section volunteered during the months of April and May. When the Section met for the first time this year, the members unanimously voted to work the Help Desks. This is the second year the section has agreed to volunteer and this year they really stepped up their efforts. Twenty-one Workers’ Compensation Section attorneys volunteered at the Monday and Thursday District Court Help Desks and the Wednesday Domestic Relations Help Desk where a total of 143 clients were helped. Sia Newman, with Rogers & Associates, and also president of the Workers’ Compensation Section, said she signed up to volunteer because she is president of the section but now it is personal. “Now I volunteer because I see in these people’s faces how I am making a difference and how I am able to give back to my community in my capacity as an attorney,” Newman said. “The people we help are in genuine need, cannot afford a lawyer and do not know where to turn.” Newman cites as an example her last pro bono client who is in an abusive marriage. The client told Newman she thought she was “stuck” because she could not afford a lawyer until she discovered the Domestic Relations Help Desk where she received legal advice on how to file as a pro se plaintiff and what to expect after she made that first step in filing. Treasurer Jeannie Walston said she volunteered repeatedly because she was interested in handling legal issues outside her normal practice. “It was very rewarding when the clients were so grateful and appreciative for being helped with what seemed like fairly simple issues,” Walston said. Kevin Berry, vice chair, admitted being initially concerned that he would not know how to handle the potential issues he might encounter at the Help Desks. But he quickly found that the cases were relatively simple, forms and instructions were available, and Volunteer Lawyer Program attorneys were on hand to help with anything he needed. “I came away feeling good about volunteering,” Berry said. As for advice he has for other Sections thinking about volunteering at the Help Desks, Berry said, “Just do it!” David Nomberg, with The Nomberg Law Firm, and secretary of the section, said he volunteered at the Domestic Relations Help Desk despite not handling domestic relations issues as part of his practice. “The Volunteer Lawyers Program staff was there to help me and it’s been a rewarding experience for me to assist those without an attorney,” Nomberg said. “I encourage all Birmingham Bar Association members to volunteer, even if it is outside your comfort zone.” To sign your section up to commit to a month of Help Desk volunteering or to volunteer yourself, please contact BBVLP Executive Director Nancy Yarbrough at nyarbrough@vlpbirmingham.org or at 205-250-5198, extension 1. G Section President Sia Newman helps a client at the Domestic Relations Help Desk. Birmingham Bar Bulletin/ Summer 2014 33


Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin - Summer 2014
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