Coblentz Patch Duffy & Bass Champions Right to Civil Counsel

Some members of Coblentz’s pro bono committee: Top row, from left: Katharine Van Dusen, David Anderson, Misti Schmidt and Rees Morgan. Bottom row, from left: Mark Hejinian, Howard Slavitt, Erin Victor, Jeffry Bernstein and Alyssa Snyder.

Some members of Coblentz’s pro bono committee: Top row, from left: Katharine Van Dusen, David Anderson, Misti Schmidt and Rees Morgan. Bottom row, from left: Mark Hejinian, Howard Slavitt, Erin Victor, Jeffry Bernstein and Alyssa Snyder.

The Justice & Diversity Center (JDC) commends Coblentz Patch Duffy & Bass for its exemplary commitment to pro bono service. Coblentz showed remarkable community service under the guidance of Fred Fields, who recently retired, and, now with Howard Slavitt’s leadership, continues to be an important partner in JDC’s work.

In 2015, Coblentz attorneys represented JDC’s low-income clients in ten debt collection suits, eight full-scope unlawful detainer (eviction) cases, 21 limited-scope eviction defense settlement conferences, 11 IRS tax issues and a matter in federal court. Coblentz also provided transactional services to four nonprofit organizations that serve low-income communities.

Notably, Coblentz is an independent midsize law firm, with 75 attorneys. For its size, Coblentz devotes an exceptional amount of time to pro bono service, and focuses its pro bono efforts on matters involving basic human needs.

Through JDC, Coblentz attorneys provide full-scope defense of low-income consumers without shying away from complicated collection cases. The firm aggressively defends against unlawful or procedurally defective collection attempts. Coblentz attorneys have gotten default judgments set aside for failure to serve debtors, and pursued and obtained monetary awards against debt collectors for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Additionally, Coblentz takes on cases even when they are close to trial dates: Coblentz began representing a JDC client facing three debt collection lawsuits just one month before two of the cases were to start trial, with the trial dates only one week apart.

Further, Coblentz’s advocacy for low-income tenants facing eviction is a crucial service during the current housing crisis that is disproportionately affecting disadvantaged residents. For many San Francisco tenants, eviction can lead to homelessness. Coblentz’s pro bono work on behalf of vulnerable individuals and families tremendously helps prevent the destructive consequences of housing displacement and homelessness, including dislocation from school and community, alcohol and drug dependency, poor physical and mental health, violence, and hunger.

Coblentz attorneys are also dedicated to helping low-income taxpayers facing controversy with the IRS. They volunteer for both full and limited-scope representation, helping people through what is often a stressful time navigating the complex tax system.

JDC thanks Coblentz for its exceptional pro bono leadership and dedication.

For more information about volunteering with the Justice & Diversity Center’s pro bono legal services programs, visit www.sfbar.org/probono.