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Trial Lawyers Care

An initiative to encourage, recognize, and organize trial lawyers who contribute to their communities through volunteer and charitable activities that serve the public good.

AAJ's TLC
Giving Back Every Day

Our lawyers give back by providing food and clothing for vulnerable families; promoting safe driving to students; establishing scholarships and charitable foundations; building affordable housing; helping after disasters, and more.

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Recent Member Stories

Running Towards the Fire

When Oregon was hit with an incredibly powerful windstorm in September, high winds sparked fires and turned small manmade fires into a half dozen or so large raging fires. More than one million acres were burned, more than 3,000 homes were destroyed, and 11 people died.

This was the worst natural disaster in Oregon’s modern history. Inspired by the work of other state TLAs following natural disasters, the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association set out to help those who lost their homes and were displaced. As trial lawyers, we are uniquely situated to help the citizens of our state pursue their insurance claims. We know the tricks insurance companies pull, and we want better for our citizens when natural disaster hits home.Marc Johnston, AAJ and OTLA member

First, the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association wanted to educate every citizen who was interested about how to pursue their insurance claims. They decided to create enduring tools that would show people what to watch out for; hence, they worked with their best fire insurance attorneys to create a series of 12 videos that could be shared and reshared by anyone dealing with their insurance company. 

They then employed a statewide boots-on-the-ground approach—organizing and sending lawyers out into the hardest hit communities to provide pro bono legal services to anyone displaced or affected by the fires. All the volunteer lawyers underwent a training CLE that was put on by OTLA’s leading fire insurance attorneys. OTLA also staffed a hotline through the end of November so that anyone could call and talk to a lawyer about their fire claim.

“We headed directly towards the fires so we could help the most people possible. Running towards the fire was a metaphor that guided our pro bono efforts,” said Marc Johnston, Johnston Law Firm. Having reached and helped hundreds of people in this crisis, Marc and OTLA truly have made a difference!

Three people in meeting wearing masks.
 

Finding a Family

Two adults and two kids with balloonsBy serving as guardian ad litem to two siblings in foster care, Alan Pickert—a partner at AAJ Leaders Forum firm Terrell • Hogan—was thrilled to play his part in their adoption into a loving family. Nine-year-old Cylie and her two-year-old brother, Cayden, were neglected by their biological parents, placed in foster care, and now have a chance to excel in life with their new family.

Their foster mother has now officially adopted them. “Cylie is a bubbly, happy little girl who has come out of her shell because of the love she’s received. And Cayden is the happiest little two-year-old you will ever meet who gives priceless hugs,” Alan said.

Alan volunteered as their court-appointed advocate while the children were in foster care. Several times a month, Alan either called or visited Cylie and Cayden at their foster home, met with the people in their lives to check on them, resolved any issues, and reported back to the court.

For Alan, the highlight of being Cylie and Cayden’s guardian ad litem was helping facilitate their adoption. “Being involved in their lives is so rewarding. With all the challenges they’ve experienced at their young ages, and to see them thriving now, it makes you realize how small your problems are and how good you have it,” he said.

According to the Florida Department of Children and Families, more than 800 Florida children are waiting to be adopted. When foster children are adopted, the State of Florida provides the children with free health insurance through Medicaid, free college through a public Florida university, a monthly stipend for living expenses, and therapy services.

Despite the state assistance, families who adopt or foster children often need help. If you wish to help a child in need, you may fund things such as dental appointments, music and art lessons, sports, school supplies, and camp.

For Cylie and Cayden, the Terrell • Hogan law firm has made a donation to help them as they begin a new chapter in their lives. After learning about their adoption on social media, one former client offered to buy the kids clothes.

Alan plans on being involved in the children’s lives for years to come. “The entire family are rock stars if you ask me. Rhonda, Cylie, Cayden, and the rest of the family are just fantastic, but more importantly, these kids now have a chance to excel in life” Alan said.

The lawyers and staff of Terrell • Hogan plan on supporting foster children, as well as all the firm’s other charitable endeavors, for decades to come. “It is important to us as leaders in the community to make sure we assist others in need,” said founder Wayne Hogan. “We are here to help as many people as we can.”

Lawyers for Learning

As COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders have been lifted and employees have returned to work—but schools remain closed—many parents face hardships in finding the time to watch their children, tend to their virtual learning needs, and also complete their own work duties. San Diego-based law firm Gomez Trial Attorneys has converted its mock courtroom into a conveniently located and socially distanced classroom to eliminate virtual learning responsibilities from parents (GTA employees) and to allow them to maximize their work productivity.

Group of people wearing facemasks

Founder and President John Gomez has hired two professional teachers to help the students with their virtual learning during their parents’ work hours. This has created peace of mind so employees can work just a few steps down the hallway. Education has always been a priority at Gomez Trial Attorneys, and they are committed to doing whatever it takes to make sure their employees’ children remain educated and healthy during this time, while allowing staff to focus on work and the best results for their clients.

Making the Wait to Vote a Little More Bearable

Group of people in masks waiting in line to vote.On the first day of early voting in Georgia, AAJ member Sharon Zinns waited for more than 5 hours in line to vote at the Smyrna Community Center. After 2 hours of hearing people talk about missing lunch, Sharon ordered pizza and drinks for the line. Other people pitched in—providing plates, napkins, and waters; and helping her hand out food. They talked, listened to music, and had a good time despite the long wait in the sun. Two days later, she saw online that the wait at the community center was 3 hours again. Before delivering pizza to the line, she asked for donations on her Facebook page to help defray the cost of the second day of food delivery. Sharon received more than a few pizzas in donations; she received over $4,000 from around the country!

“Nobody should be waiting on lines this long to cast their votes. But since I knew this is the reality for my county on Election Day, my goal is to make sure voters can wait comfortably, stay in line, and cast their votes,” says Sharon.

In anticipation of long lines on Election Day, thirteen volunteers have offered to work with Sharon to help feed Georgia voters using the money raised so far, including two women she met waiting in line to vote.

Gambling for Good: LATLC Virtual Poker Tournament for College Scholarships

Los Angeles Trial Lawyers’ Charities is a “pass-through” charity: what they raise is what they give away. With the loss of their in-person fundraisers, they did not know if they could still support LATLC programs like their 2020 college scholarships—something that was unacceptable to them! High school seniors had already lost their proms, parties, and graduations; they were determined that they NOT lose much-needed funds.

Since they had already scheduled (and had the gaming permit) for a June 20 “Casino Night,” they decided to create a “Virtual Poker Tournament” on that same date. The goal was to raise $25,000 for ten scholarships.

They didn’t.

The tournament, silent auction, and a drawing actually brought in more than $40,000 and allowed them to present TWELVE (not the usual ten) college scholarships during this difficult year.

As COVID-19 is still preventing in-person events, they are holding another virtual poker tournament on October 24 to replace their annual Holiday Village in South Central Los Angeles. Every year, they hold an incredible party attended by 2,000 people—distributing 1,500 toys plus food and groceries for 550 families. Let’s bring some “Comfort and Joy” to families in need! Sign up today.

 

Pledging to Help Providence

Mark Mandell, a Rhode Island trial lawyer and past President of the American Association for Justice, made an inaugural contribution to the Providence Community Relief Fund to support ongoing COVID-19 efforts to help residents. The fund is held at the United Way of Rhode Island.

Street in Providence, RI“We all have a shared responsibility to help each other – it is so important that we do that, especially during tough times,” said Mandell in a press release from the Providence Mayor’s office. “I invite all who are able to join me in helping to provide basic needs to our fellow Rhode Islanders.”

Mandell donated $25,000 and is pledging to match another $25,000 when that amount is also raised by the community.

The funds will be distributed to nonprofits to support a variety of initiatives, such as food assistance and direct financial relief.

Law Firm Donates to Local Food Banks

Texas-based Glasheen, Valles & Inderman Injury Lawyers donated $100,000 to food banks this spring in communities where its employees live and work.

“As a personal injury law firm, what we do is help people who are in a crisis,” said Kevin Glasheen, senior partner at Glasheen, Valles & Inderman Injury Lawyers. “In this case, that crisis isn’t an injury, but instead a need for food.”

Local food banks are almost always in need of donations, but now more so than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Glasheen, Valles & Inderman’s $100,000 donation is broken down as follows:

  • $20,000 donated to the South Plains Food Bank in Lubbock, Texas;
  • $20,000 donated to West Texas Food Bank in Odessa, Texas;
  • $20,000 donated to El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank in El Paso, Texas;
  • $20,000 donated to Roadrunner Food Bank which operates in Albuquerque ($10,000) and Las Cruces, New Mexico ($10,000); and
  • $20,000 donated to benefit the Jemez Pueblo in New Mexico.

“We have had a lot of success representing families across the region in catastrophic injury and death cases, so we are able to help,” said Glasheen.

Glasheen, Valles & Inderman Injury Lawyers is a regional personal injury law firm that focuses on cases involving catastrophic injuries and death, serving clients through West Texas and New Mexico with offices in Lubbock, Odessa, El Paso, Albuquerque, and Austin.

Glasheen, Valles & Inderman Injury Lawyers

 

Lawyers Honoring COVID-19 Caregivers

As a plaintiff lawyer for over forty years, Clyde Bergstresser has typically brought cases against health care providers but also has developed a niche practice of representing physicians as “personal counsel” when others have sued them. Thus, he has forged many relationships with doctors and other clinicians.

As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, Clyde felt compelled to help healthcare workers risking their lives for us all. “I felt the need to honor their efforts and to say thank you in a way that could provide some support for those on the front lines fighting this deadly disease,” said Clyde.
Clyde first set out to investigate what was needed to help colleagues in medicine. The local legal community joined Clyde’s cause, including his partner Russ Pollock; Chris Duggan of Smith, Duggan, Buell & Rufo; former Boston College Law School classmates; distinguished trial lawyers Joan Lukey of Choate Hall & Stewart and Walter Prince of Prince Lobel Tye; retired Federal District Court Judge Nancy Gertner; and Jon Albano of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius.

Retired Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Margaret Marshall agreed to assist the cause as Honorary Chair of the Honorary Advisory Committee. Others joining the Honorary Advisory Committee included the President of Boston Medical Center, prominent Massachusetts physicians and lawyers, as well as representatives of the major Massachusetts medical professional liability insurers.
Initially, Clyde and his colleagues contacted Boston Medical Center, which has been on the front lines caring for individuals of color, a population disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Boston Medical Center had established an emergency fund for its staff, which was in dire need of additional funding.

They then reached out to Boston Emergency Medical Services, which has supplied the majority of first responders in the community during this crisis—with many describing their day-to-day work as like being in a war zone. Clearly, there was a great need for additional funding to help these brave men and women who need counseling and support.

Having identified the need and a way to honor their colleagues in medicine, Clyde and his colleagues created the charitable corporation, Lawyers Honoring COVID-19 Caregivers Inc. Please visit the website and support this worthy cause. Individuals can donate by clicking here or by mailing a check made out to “Lawyers Honoring COVID-19 Caregivers Inc.” to their treasurer, Chris Duggan, Esq., Smith Duggan, 55 Old Bedford Road, Lincoln, MA 01733.

Lawyers Honoring COVID-19 Caregivers Inc. has just started the ramping up of collections but wanted to quickly get relief to those in need. In the photo below, Clyde is presenting a check for $50,000 to Norman Stein, Senior Vice President of Boston Medical Center.

They are continuing efforts to spread word about Lawyers Honoring COVID-19 Caregivers Inc. to the legal community through various bar associations, professional societies and personal connections.

Clyde Bergstresser handing check in front of gate

 

Colleen Carboy headshot

Colleen Carboy

Carboy Law Firm Lewisville, TX
2020 Trial Lawyers Care Award Winner

Before becoming a trial lawyer, AAJ member Colleen Carboy was medical-surgical nurse. When she the news of healthcare worker shortages in New York and New Jersey, she knew she could help. With the support of her clients and opposing counsel, the sole practitioner put her cases on hold and took a six-week assignment at a hospital in Englewood, N.J. When asked what motivated her to step up, she said  “it would have been so much harder to stay home than to go and be busy during the crisis.”

Learn More About AAJ Members Helping Their Communities

Colleen Carboy was awarded the 2020 Trial Lawyers Care Award. Watch her acceptance speech, delivered during the 2020 Amped-Up Convention Membership Award Ceremony.

Joel Feldman speaking to students.
Trial Lawyers in Action
End Distracted Driving

After his 21-year-old daughter Casey was killed by a distracted driver in 2009, trial lawyer Joel Feldman created a safety campaign in her memory. Hundreds of trial lawyers have volunteered to give the End Distracted Driving (EndDD) presentation across North America.

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A History of Service
Action After Tragedy

Trial Lawyers Care launched 13 days after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. More than 1,100 TLC attorneys volunteered, providing free legal help to more than 1,700 families who applied for federal financial assistance.

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Each summer AAJ recognizes a member with an exemplary community service project. If you know of a individual who has gone above and beyond, nominate him or her today.

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