Why We Volunteer UP

Jeffrey L. Nash, Esq.

Founder of The Nash Law Group,

Member of the Camden County Board of Commissioners

Volunteer UP Legal Clinic Board Chair

A simple fine or violation can have a damaging ripple effect on those who do not know where to turn when navigating the legal system. The Volunteer UP Legal Clinic addresses a distinct need within the South Jersey community – eliminating those barriers for the community’s most vulnerable individuals, providing guidance and ensuring they are properly represented. The bigger the network of firms involved with the Clinic, the larger the number of attorneys we will have to help an even greater segment of the population in need.

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    Lisa Evans Lewis, Esq.

    Assistant Federal Public Defender

    District of New Jersey

    As an Assistant Federal Public Defender, I know all too well the needs of clients when under the supervision of the court or those that are recently released from custody. With limited resources, they are unable to afford help with legal needs like driver’s license restoration, outstanding municipal court matters or other matters not covered by other free legal service organizations.  Having the support and services that Volunteer UP Legal Clinic provides allows clients to be productive and successful citizens, which undoubtedly has a positive impact on the communities in which they live and work.

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      Bruce Goldman, Esq.

      Retired General Counsel, PREIT

      Assistance provided by social service agencies are lifesaving to so many of our friends and neighbors throughout South Jersey. Adding vital legal services to the mix helps meet the clients where they are – tackling with them the array of challenges they may face. Despite significant efforts by so many, New Jersey’s legal system struggles to see people as individual, complicated human beings with unique goals, aspirations, and challenges. The Volunteer UP Legal Clinic changes that by allowing the system to see clients as the whole person they are, hearing them as they work through life. This is the reason I became a lawyer – and my service to the Volunteer UP helps me remember the “why.”

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        Ann Madden Tufano, Esq.

        Madden & Tufano, LLC

        The Volunteer UP Legal Clinic, in partnering with volunteer attorneys to provide free legal services, serves a vital role in our South Jersey Community by providing a sense of justice to those most vulnerable members of community who would not otherwise have a voice. I am honored to be a part of this amazing organization because it provides me with an opportunity to give back to my community to help those in need fight hard to make their voices heard.

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          Brian P. Budic, Esq.

          Florio Perrucci Steinhardt Cappelli Tipton & Taylor, LLC

          The work done by Volunteer UP Legal Clinic, specifically linking local attorneys with clients in need of legal representation who otherwise cannot afford to retain a lawyer, ensures that these clients have their rights and interests adequately protected. Clients of the Clinic need guidance when facing a wide array of legal issues. Therefore, it is crucial that attorneys from all practice areas are involved with the Clinic – ensuring that no matter the needs of the client, an attorney with an expertise in that field can step in and either provide assistance or mentor a new attorney to do so. Personally, my interest in the Volunteer UP Legal Clinic stems from the opportunity to assist fellow residents of South Jersey because my time today may have a long-standing impact on their lives forever. For instance, assisting a client with an expungement claim may open additional avenues to seek further employment and/or increased wages. Similarly, assisting with a child support issue, including modifications due to a substantial change in circumstances, could significantly improve a client’s financial situation moving forward. Finally, Volunteer UP Legal Clinic allows lawyers to assist those in need while also honing their legal skills in and out of the courtroom.

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            Patricia A. Legge, Esq., LMSW

            Volunteer UP Legal Clinic Director

            I am truly inspired by our volunteer attorneys who have committed to making pro bono work a significant part of the legal service field. These fine professionals recognize that a person’s access to justice all too often depends upon his or her ability to pay for a lawyer, rather than upon the merits of the case. Volunteer UP Legal Clinic works to fill this gap in services. It is my honor to support the mission of the Clinic and my pleasure to be able to draw upon my legal and social work backgrounds to serve others in the South Jersey community.

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              John S. Stapleton, Esq.

              LeVan Stapleton Segal Cohran LLC

              Those served by Volunteer UP Legal Clinic earn their days far harder than most. They live with little financial, food, or housing security. Many are one setback away from losing their jobs, homes, and families. A simple motor vehicle fine can be too much to pay, leading to a suspended license, leading to an inability to travel to a minimum wage job, leading to an inability to pay rent, leading to eviction, and worse. Yet, as they struggle, these clients persevere and believe. There is beauty in that – and it deserves not only our admiration, but, more importantly, our help. As a business litigator, the cases I see through the Volunteer UP Legal Clinic are not my typical cases. However, the same problem-solving and negotiation skills that are needed in complex litigation are just as valuable in a small matter in municipal court. As tremendous as the South Jersey legal community is in talent, it is under-staffed and under-resourced in legal services for vulnerable populations. By centralizing requests for legal assistance and matching clients with an expanding network of impressive pro bono lawyers, Volunteer UP Legal Clinic is providing a crucial new lifeline for those in need of legal assistance and services throughout South Jersey. It is humbling to see how something as simple as access to a lawyer can knock down a tremendous barrier in somebody’s life. I am proud to be part of the Clinic and encourage attorneys from across the region to support the Clinic in any way possible.

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                Courtney M. Knight, Esq.

                Freeman Mathis & Gary LLP

                As an attorney, I am reminded daily not only how complicated many legal issues can be to our clients, but also how personal and stressful.  For those working to re-stabilize their lives or their family’s lives after periods of financial difficulty, legal challenges may seem insurmountable. That’s where the Volunteer UP Legal Clinic comes in, serving those in need with seemingly complicated matters they would otherwise be forced to face alone. Some may need counsel for financial issues related to municipal fines or bankruptcy, or they may need help regaining program eligibility through an expungement; others may need assistance guiding their family through immigration, divorce, wills, estates, or probate. Whatever the need, Volunteer UP endeavors to connect clients with capable attorneys in the South Jersey community. For those attorneys participating, the Clinic offers training and CLE credits, that not only ensure the Volunteer UP clients are receiving the highest quality services, but also support the volunteer attorneys in their own professional development. More than just improved legal outcomes, the clients of Volunteer UP receive support and information necessary for them to confidently participate in and guide their own legal representation. It is beneficial for individuals going through a challenging time to claim control over their legal troubles, a portion of their lives which can be confusing, disheartening, or even demeaning.  Volunteer UP ensures that at those trying times, these individuals can have an attorney alongside them to represent them and to fight for their interests both before and during court. As a volunteer attorney, I appreciate the opportunity to take a little bit of the load off the clients’ shoulders and to foster their own independence.  

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                  Corey S. D. Norcross, Esq.

                  Stradley Ronon

                  Numerous outside conditions can affect an individual or family’s stability and success, not the least of which is an unexpected legal issue. For low-and-moderate income people facing legal obstacles, it can be hard to see a solution. Ensuring access to legal advocacy and counsel not only improves positive outcomes but helps prevent more significant problems like homelessness, health issues, employment troubles, and more. Volunteer UP Legal Clinic is breaking barriers and providing the South Jersey community with some sense of stability. From securing a lost birth certificate to negotiating old court fines to providing representation in civil and criminal cases – the legal needs of a community can genuinely be diverse. The Clinic’s volunteers, myself included, are driven by principles and vision that those across our communities should have access to strong legal advocacy and services. We are committed to helping to strengthen families, support communities, help individuals access the power of the law, and promote justice. 

                   

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                    Kelly J. Gastley, Esq.

                    Philly VIP

                    Life is hard for those living below the poverty line. Consider a Camden County resident who turned to Volunteer UP Legal Clinic for help. A 34-year-old mother who recently had a newborn, this resident’s driver’s license had been suspended when she fell behind on a payment plan for a driving offense, leaving nearly $1,200 owed. Desperately needing to work but without money to pay the fee she owed, she made a difficult decision: she continued to drive on a suspended license in order to get to and from work. Luck was not in her favor, and she was fined yet again – adding another $700 to her tab. With $2,000 in fees assessed against her, she was in dire need of an attorney who could advocate for an affordable payment plan and a lift of her suspension. In my position at Philly VIP, I have seen countless stories like this. I’ve also witnessed the dramatic impact that one volunteer attorney can have by resolving one seemingly simple issue – using the basic legal skills that all attorneys have. Knowing the impact of connecting a client in need with an attorney ready to serve, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with and support the Volunteer UP Legal Clinic.

                    I hope you will join me in volunteering your time or donating your money; you will be helping our most vulnerable neighbors at a time when they need it most.

                     

                      Are you ready to Volunteer UP?

                      -Volunteer attorneys have the full support of Clinic personnel as well as volunteer mentors.

                      -We offer free CLEs and malpractice coverage.

                      -Volunteer UP Legal Clinic is a New Jersey Supreme Court certified pro bono organization. Volunteer attorneys therefore are exempt from being appointed to take a Madden v. Delran pro bono case when they provide 25 hours per year to Volunteer UP.

                      For more information, please contact:

                      Patty Legge

                      PLegge@VolunteerUPLegalClinic.org

                      (856) 217-8686

                      You can make a difference!