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Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin - Winter 2013

Pro Bono Small Law Firm winner Elizabeth Zwiebel and Christopher Nicholson, chairman for the Pro Bono celebration committee ham Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program extended representation program. How long have you volunteered? When the Birmingham Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program announced it was going to do a Help Desk at Domestic Relations Court a year and a half ago, I signed up to help the first day. I’ve been volunteering twice monthly at the Wednesday Domestic Relations Help Desk ever since. I also take representation cases where I handle everything for a client who can’t afford an attorney. Why do you volunteer? The biggest way you can positively affect someone’s life is by helping them get help with a domestic relations issue. It’s a life changing event if you can help someone get child support or get a divorce from a spouse from whom they’ve been estranged for years or help them be able to see their children. I really believe that without the Domestic Relations Help Desk there would be no way for the people we help to obtain legal relief. What is your most memorable volunteering experience? Recently a man came to the Domestic Relations Help Desk with two plastic Wal-Mart bags full of receipts. He told me that his ex-wife had gotten custody of their children but she had abandoned them with him over ten years ago. For that entire time, this man had raised his children and kept all the receipts. He was a welder and had worked until he fell off a ladder, suffered a head injury, and was now on disability. The reason the man came to the Help Desk was because he received notice that DHR (Department of Human Resources) was going to start garnishing his disability check to pay the approximately $60,000 in back child support he supposedly owed to his ex-wife although he was the one who had raised the children. I told him that I would take his case. We got his receipts in order and went to his court hearing. We negotiated with his exwife and she agreed to sign the paperwork so he could receive a credit on the interest he supposedly owed on the back support. Then we negotiated the lump sum down to a $2,000 settlement that they both felt was fair considering he single-handedly raised the children. It was very gratifying that this man could continue to be a productive citizen because he got out from under a debt that was really a misunderstanding. What advice can you give attorneys thinking about volunteering with the Birmingham Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program? Do it. There are senior attorneys at the Public Service Help Desk that can answer any questions you have, there are forms, and the staff (at the Birmingham Bar Volunteer Lawyer Program) will be there to help. It’s a great way to learn while making a difference. Beau Grenier, managing partner for Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, accepts the Pro Bono Large Law Firm of the Year award from Christopher Nicholson. Charlie G. Baxley Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP 2013 Bono Large Law Firm of the Year Charlie Baxley is one of the hundreds of attorneys who volunteer in both civil and criminal proceedings at Bradley Arant Boult and Cummings. Charlie volunteers regularly and consistently with the Birmingham Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program on Mondays and Thursday at the District Court Help Desk. How long have you volunteered? I have volunteered since I began practicing in 2011.  This past July, I decided to commit myself to help out on a regular basis.   Now, I try to help out at the District Court Help desk twice each month. Why do you volunteer? I volunteer because I’ve seen the tremendous need for help among self-represented litigants.  These are people who are Continued on page 36. Birmingham Bar Bulletin/ Winter 2013 33


Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin - Winter 2013
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