Retirement from Active Practice, but Not Pro Bono


The Justice & Diversity Center (JDC) honors Sheldon Balman as Volunteer of the Month for his hard work defending vulnerable ten-ants from eviction with JDC’s Housing Negotiation Project (HNP).

At HNP, volunteer attorneys provide limited-scope representation in eviction cases at pre-trial settlement conferences.



Balman has assisted many clients in the two years he’s volunteered with HNP. In one case, Balman represented a single father and his three children, who were facing eviction for non-payment of rent. The full-time dad was enrolled in a post-graduate degree program and working part-time as a school instructor. Balman negotiated with the landlord, who allowed the family to stay in their home.

Volunteering with HNP is not without its challenges. It can be difficult to negotiate on behalf of a client who is unable to pay rent. Additionally, clients often do not have an alternative place to go if evicted. Nevertheless, Balman sees that telling a client what is in his or her best interest, and then advocating for that, influences a case’s outcome.

After being admitted to practice in 1963, Balman opened a solo practice. He describes himself during that busy time as the “chef, cook and bottle washer.” He retired, after practicing law for over 50 years, but volunteers with JDC through the State Bar of California’s Pro Bono Practice Program. The program allows retired attorneys, as well as those taking a break from practice, to activate their licenses at no fee, in order to do pro bono work.

For those unfamiliar with landlord-tenant law, Balman says they can easily get up to speed through JDC’s trainings and on-site supervision. Further, volunteers do not need to prepare before appearing and their commitment is limited to the appearance. Balman goes on to say that “the opportunity to help at-risk individuals is both challenging and extremely rewarding.”



To learn more about HNP or sign up for a training, please visit