Homeless Advocacy Project Gives Summer Associates Experience Through its Annual Public Service Program

This past summer, the Justice & Diversity Center’s (JDC) Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP) held its 16th annual Summer Associates in Public Service Program.  The program provides critical legal services to low-income and homeless San Francisco residents while teaching law students practical skills and the value of pro bono work.  Four firms participated this year: Farella Braun + Martel; Jones Day; Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein; and O’Melveny & Myers.

HAP-Jones-DayJones Day provided tenants in two unlawful detainer cases with full-scope defense in eviction proceedings.  With partner Katherine Ritchey supervising, associates Amir Amiri and Peter Julian each took a case with three law students and reached settlement agreements that resolved both cases without trial.  The students interviewed their clients and propounded interrogatories, requests for production of documents, and deposition notices.  Some students also drafted discovery responses and deposition outlines, and prepared their client for deposition.  Jones Day’s summer associates in HAP’s program were: Benjamin Craven, UC Berkeley; David Doak, University of Texas; Annie Lee, Harvard; Trevor Lee and Alexandra McDonald, both of Northwestern; and Michael “Kipp” Mueller, Columbia.

HAP-OMMIn O’Melveny’s fifth year participating, partner Randy Edwards and associate Monica Voicu Denniston supervised three law students: Yegor Fursevich, UC Berkeley; Jessica So, Yale; and Kelly Volkar, UC Davis.  Although this year’s case has not yet resolved, as in past years, the firm worked on a full-scope eviction defense matter, which gave both students and associates valuable litigation experience.  For example, in the case the firm handled last summer, attorneys and law students served discovery, filed discovery motions, and prepared for deposition,  which led to a settlement agreement allowing a tenant to stay in the home she has lived in for 17 years.

HAP-Lief-CabraserLieff Cabraser was ready to provide full-scope representation in an unlawful detainer case through HAP’s program, but was ultimately able to help without taking on representation.  Partner Kristen Law Sagafi, a JDC board member, was glad the firm had the opportunity to be involved with its summer associates Neha Gupta and Leah Judge, both from Stanford, who reviewed client intake information and participated in phone conversations with counsel of record.

Farella participated by appearing at the Housing Negotiation Project, an ongoing JDC project, with a partner, two associates, and two summer associates.  The group represented low-income tenants in three cases at their mandatory settlement conferences less than a week before trial began in eviction proceedings against HAP-Farellathem.  Partner Tony Schoenberg and associates Morgan Jackson and Alex Porcaro supervised law students Paul Cox, UC Berkeley, and Marisa Landin, Stanford.  The Farella team reached settlement agreements in all three cases, enabling their clients to avoid trial and eviction.  Jackson said the project gave both attorneys and students “an opportunity to make a difference in the clients’ lives by helping them through a very trying time.”

For information on how your firm can participate in HAP’s 2014 Summer Associates in Public Service Program, email probono@sfbar.org.