Please share your quick snapshot (name, education, current and past jobs, etc.): Elizabeth Finn Johnson, Harvard University A.B. with honors in Government, University of Virginia Law School J.D. 1987; just retired as Senior Counsel, Employee Relations at The Coca-Cola Company, which I joined in 1990 as Litigation Counsel. Associate at Troutman Sanders 1987-1990.
How did you get involved with AVLF? My first introduction to Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation was through the Winetasting when I was a young lawyer. In terms of work with AVLF, that started in 2001, after we formed our Pro Bono Committee at the Company and our first project was Wills on Wheels with AVLF. In addition, my husband was a longtime Saturday Lawyer volunteer.
Give us your best elevator pitch – what does AVLF mean to you? AVLF saves lives – literally. We have nine critical programs in the areas of family law and economic justice through which we provide over 5,000 clients annually with access to justice by providing pro bono lawyers and legal advice in such areas as domestic violence, eviction defense, bankruptcy, and consumer law, among others. Without us, many survivors of domestic violence in Fulton County would probably not find the strength to face down their abuser in court and obtain a protective order; low income members of our community would not be able to challenge illegal evictions and unhealthy and unsafe conditions in their rented homes; and wouldn’t be able to recover pay that was illegally withheld by unscrupulous employers. Without AVLF, over 5000 of our neighbors would continue to feel powerless and voiceless in our legal system. We not only save lives, but we also help legitimize our legal system, which in turn strengthens our communities and the rule of law.
What is your favorite AVLF moment? I have to say that getting our newest fundraiser, PurSHOEing Justice, off the ground to bring women together to support other women while shopping for great shoes is my fave AVLF moment!
What are you proudest of professionally? I am proud that I have been able to pursue my passion for increasing access to justice for the underserved and disenfranchised in our community, and that I have been able to inspire others to do the same thing. While my day job was for a major corporation and I thoroughly enjoyed that work, it is the pro bono work that motivates me and about which I am passionate, and it is this work that has given me the most.
And personally? Personally, I am proudest of my incredible children, both of whom are socially conscious and want to make a positive change in this world.
Is there anything else you want our readers to know? I believe that as lawyers, we have a unique opportunity, and indeed an obligation, to work to provide access to justice for all. AVLF is a critical part of this work. I encourage all lawyers in our community to come see what AVLF is all about and see what you can do to make a difference. I promise you, you will get far more than you give.