Executive Director Marty Ellin discusses major milestones at Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation—and why this work remains relevant.
Happy New Year, and warmest regards from the staff of the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation.
2019 is off to a blazing start, and February will be among the busiest months of the year, including two milestones noted below.
On February 12th, we will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Safe Families Office (SFO), Georgia’s very first courthouse based, full-time lawyer staffed walk-in clinic for survivors of intimate partner violence. Services offered by the SFO, which was noted in 2010 and again in 2018 by the Chair of American Bar Association on Sexual and Domestic Violence as a national Best Practices model, have expanded exponentially in ten years, and now include a full complement of legal counsel and representation for protective orders and for related family law matters and social work support services. Last year, more than 3,400 individuals sought assistance at the Safe Families Office.
On February 21st, we will celebrate AVLF Match Day, the date 40 years ago when AVLF’s Articles of Incorporation were filed. This one-time event will be filled with fun and gifts to those who make donations to AVLF at increments of $40. All proceeds will benefit the SAFE Fund and will be matched by an anonymous donor. You can view the social media toolkit here.
Our pro bono programs will continue to sustain and even expand the delivery of free, high quality legal services to those in our community who otherwise have no access to counsel.
And while we celebrate our impact on the Atlanta community, our pro bono programs will continue to sustain and even expand the delivery of free, high quality legal services to those in our community who otherwise have no access to counsel.
As examples: The AVLF Standing with Our Neighbors™ program continues to operate in eight (!) Atlanta Public Schools; collectively, in those schools in the 2017-2018 school year, the student turnover rate dropped 20%, meaning more educational opportunities for the students of those schools and more stability for the families of those children. AVLF’s Saturday Lawyer Program provides more than 500 clients each year with access to volunteer attorneys from the breadth of the Atlanta legal community, who are looking for a chance to provide meaningful pro bono legal service, to conduct thorough interviews of each client and, when appropriate, direct representation. AVLF’s Probate Information Center, now in its second decade, pairs lawyers from the Atlanta Bar Association’s Estate Planning and Probate Section with Fulton County residents who have lost a family member and need direction about how to probate the estate.
We are grateful beyond easy words for the commitment of our volunteers and for their dedication to excellence and their insistence that the justice system be equally accessible to all.
The keys to each of these pro bono programs, and the balance of the projects in which AVLF are involved? There are two.
- First, the volunteers—paralegals, accountants, social workers, process servers, mold examiners and especially the lawyers who participate by the hundreds, leveraging more than $2 million in legal fees each year for people who cannot afford lawyers. We are grateful beyond easy words for the commitment of our volunteers and for their dedication to excellence and their insistence that the justice system be equally accessible to all.
- Second, the supporters of AVLF—individual lawyers/businesspeople, law firms, corporate legal departments, Bar Sections, accounting firms and other friends of the Foundation who devote a generous share of their resources to help AVLF create safe and stable homes and families. Last year, AVLF conducted our inaugural Annual Campaign, and we smashed through our Campaign goal of $850,000 with a final tally of $980,000. In 2019, we will be conducting two fundraising drives: first, our 2019 Annual Campaign, co-chaired by Lizanne Thomas of Jones Day and David Balser of King & Spalding, will seek to raise $1,000,000—to assure that we have the unrestricted funds to support our grant-based (restricted) programs. And second, but equally exciting, an anonymous donor deeply invested in supporting the AVLF mission has announced that they will match up to $500,000 of contributions to the newly created opportunity reserve fund known as the SAFE (Stabilizing Atlanta for Everyone) Fund. We hope to raise $1 million through our Annual Campaign and another at least $500,000 in this, our 40th year!
We enthusiastically accept the challenges to raise the financial resources, and supply the volunteer resources, that allow the promise of justice for every member of our community not to be a hollow one.
The work of Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation is critical to the community, and we enthusiastically accept the challenges to raise the financial resources, and supply the volunteer resources, that allow the promise of justice for every member of our community not to be a hollow one.
Thank you for all that you do for AVLF; thank you for standing with us as we lead the fight for justice for those without the voice, circumstance or resources to fight alone.
Want to read other Letters From Leadership? They are an easy way to find out what drives us here at AVLF. You can find them all here.