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Lawyers of San Diego is a specialty bar association committed to advancing the status of women in the law and society. We use this space to share articles written about Lawyers Club events and programs and items of interest to our members which are relevant to our mission. The opinions outlined in content published on the Lawyers Club of San Diego blog are those of the authors and not of Lawyers Club. All members are encouraged to participate respectfully in discussions regarding the topics posted on the blog. Guest writers are welcome.

 

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Read-In, For Inspiration

Posted By Guest Blogger Joe Mayo, Tuesday, February 26, 2019

 

On October 31, 2018, the San Diego Lawyers Club’s Community Outreach Committee (COC) and San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association (SDLRLA) conducted the Halloween Read-In at Central Elementary, a pre-kindergarten through 5th grade school located in the heart of City Heights. San Diego Lawyers Club has a twenty-three-year Read-In partnership with Central Elementary, where students are among the most economically challenged in the district. This year’s Halloween Read-In event featured numerous memorable costumes and volunteers included many San Diego Lawyers Club members, SDLRLA members, judges, law students, and San Diego City Attorney, Mara Elliott. Both the Halloween and Spring Read-Ins are influential events, where volunteers serve as role models, and provide an opportunity for students to learn about different careers while inspiring them to dream big.

 



This was my first Read-In and I was placed in Mr. Lou’s second grade class. I was paired with Attorneys Danielle Ward and former Lawyers Club President Kate Kowalewski. Danielle read from a book with wide-eyed children looking on with wonder as she pointed to various characters in the book and read out loud. I was moved to see how receptive the children were to Danielle’s reading.

After Danielle read the book, Mr. Lou conducted a mock trial, based on a patent case involving magic wands. Kate acted as the judge as Danielle made her case as plaintiff’s counsel that a student’s wand with a yellow star was copied by another student who had a wand with a blue star. Kate’s evenhanded judging and Danielle’s civil approach echoed San Diego’s courteous legal climate. Just to be clear, I appealed the decision brought down by the jury—a real travesty!

Also, I was touched to see how interested the students were as Mr. Lou went between the two students and explained each step of the trial in terms the youngsters could understand. Lawyers use a lot of big words—who knew?! At any rate, Mr. Lou is an awesome teacher and is the kind of teacher that changes lives and makes a real difference in our society. This event affirmed my belief that teachers like Mr. Lou deserve to be valued highly in our society.

I saw the young lady that was on my side of the patent case outside the school after the event was over. I told her that she did a great job and that she could do anything she wanted if she worked hard. This is one of the best events I have ever attended and am thankful to have been given the opportunity to make an impact on the students.

Mark your calendar for the Spring Read-In on Friday, March 1, 2019 – register here if you wish to participate. In the interim, COC will continue to provide much-needed basic school supplies to Central Elementary through a school supply donation drive and email lc.communityoutreachc@gmail.com to participate in that effort.


Here are some pictures from the event:

 

 

 

Joe Mayo is patent agent at ARC IP Law, PC, a member of San Diego Lawyers Club’s Community Outreach Committee, and is First Man of Lawyers Club 2018-19.

 

Tags:  Central Elementary  civility  Community Outreach Committee  education  mock trial  read-in  San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association  teacher 

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Guest Blog: "Clean Slate Clinic"

Posted By Kristen Fritz, Wednesday, October 26, 2016

"Clean Slate Clinic"

In just a few hours, you can help to drastically change someone’s life for the better.


Like most people, I hope that my life will have meaning and that I will positively impact those around me. In short, I want to make a difference and I seek out opportunities to do so. I am compelled to write about a recent experience where I did a small task that made a huge difference in someone else’s life. Two weeks ago, I volunteered for the second time at the San Diego Clean Slate Clinic. The Clinic is held once a month, staffed by volunteer attorneys, law students, and members of the community. Training is provided, so no experience is needed. The Clinic provides free legal information, NOT legal advice, to help individuals reduce or expunge their criminal records. Although the law makes provision for this, the process is complex and confusing, and most people seek help from the Clinic. In recent months, they have had nearly 50 participants in a given day. 


At last month’s clinic, I worked with a woman who was a mother of three. She had a felony conviction that was preventing her from getting employment, housing for her family, credit, and education. Although I cannot discuss the specifics of her matter, I can tell you that the facts that lead to her conviction (for which she pled guilty acknowledging her wrongs) would leave you shaking your head, and I know that you would be in awe of the wonderful and giving woman that she is. It is clear that she is not a “criminal,” but a person who committed a crime and she deserves a “clean slate.” 


In a few hours, we assisted her in the preparation of court forms and a declaration to have her felony reduced to a misdemeanor, and then to have the misdemeanor expunged. We made the copies she needed, gave her an instruction sheet on where to go, confirmed she understood what she would need to do to file the petitions, and sent her on her way to change her life. Throughout the hours we were together, she repeatedly thanked us for being at the clinic, for giving of our time and ourselves, and for helping her to get back on the path to achieving all that she wanted to in her life. I assured her that it was truly my pleasure to be there with her.

 

I left the clinic feeling elated that I could make a difference in one person’s life, but I began to wonder how many people the Clinic could help if they had more volunteers. I learned that the Clean Slate Clinic has had to turn away 10-15 participants each month over in the past few months, simply because they did not have enough volunteers to assist them. It shocks and saddens me that something can be done to help people and the only thing standing in the way is not enough people to do it. 

 

The Clinic’s co-founder, Keiara Auzenne, told me that they could easily scale up the Clinic to serve more participants if they could count on a specific number of regular volunteers each month. Therefore, I encourage—and implore—you to sign up and join me at the next Clinic on November 5, 2016, just after Pro Bono Week
(October 23-29)
, and/or to commit to volunteering at the Clinic on a regular basis. 

 

Together we can make an exponentially greater difference in the lives of so many people! 


Kristen Fritz wrote this on behalf of the Lawyers Club Community Outreach Committee and hopes you are inspired by Pro Bono Week. 

Tags:  clinic  COC  community outreach committee  expungement  LCB  pro bono  pro bono week  san diego clean slate clinic  volunteer 

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Celebrating Two Decades of Outreach Through Reading

Posted By Michele Macosky , Monday, August 29, 2016
Celebrating Two Decades of Outreach Through Reading
 

It is amazing to think that it has been 20 years since the first Read-In at Central Elementary School in City Heights. LC member Jan Atkinson launched a Career Day Read In event and established Lawyers Club’s formal “Partnership in Education” with Central in the 1996-1997 school year. A few months later, as the new chair of what is now the Community Outreach Committee, I was tasked with further developing and overseeing this partnership. At a meeting with the school, we brainstormed plans for the first Halloween Read-In.

This was before email really took off, so organizing meant long cold calls to everyone I knew asking them to participate—and then individually faxing confirming information. I would describe the intense need at the school, where even today, every student qualifies for free breakfast and lunch and must overcome daunting economic disadvantages. The children are in need of role models to encourage things like a love of reading, staying in school, going to college or considering a dream career. 

For twenty years, I have humbly watched our volunteers flood the school at read-ins to be these role models. It didn’t take long for us to add a Spring Read-In. After the first few years, La Raza Lawyers Association joined us to recruit Spanish/English bilingual readers for bilingual-designated classrooms. Our volunteers have brought books, treats, school supplies, and most of all themselves—with many dedicated readers returning year after year, and new readers always joining in. I have watched firsthand as our volunteers—from city officials to first-year law students—inspire the kids to fulfill their own potential.

Still, the needs at Central remain great. I was told by Central staff that there is no money in the budget for basic school supplies this year. The kids return towards the end of August, and they are missing things like paper, pencils, markers and items needed for the school to open. I know the families are not in a position to make up the difference for each child. Even worse, kids in the 4th and 5th grades are in non-air-conditioned trailer-classrooms where temperatures rise to the point that teachers have to stop lessons to ensure the students are okay, despite the heat. High temperatures will persist through the October Read-In, and teachers in these classes asked me to see if our members would help donate fans. Sooooo, the COC created an online wish list through which our members can donate. I am truly hoping that the wishlist link goes viral and people forward it to everyone they know who might donate. Every little bit helps and in the aggregate, we can make a huge impact on the 800+ small children at the school who have so many obstacles to overcome.

Helping kids is a passion for me. I believe that to change society we must outreach to the next generation. If we empower and teach our values to the children, we change the world. Twenty years later, organizing the read-ins is one of the most important and fulfilling things I do. This year, we celebrate two decades of Read-Ins at Central Elementary School on Monday, October 31, 2016 (Halloween) from 11:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Mayor Kevin Faulconer will speak and read to kids. I am always grateful to the returning readers who continue to make such a difference and excited to welcome new volunteers to what has become my favorite and most meaningful Halloween tradition. Join us by emailing me at Macosky@san.rr.com.

This blog post was authored by Michele Macosky. Michele Macosky practices employment law and is a Harry Potter fan.

Tags:  anniversary  COC  Community Outreach Committee  Halloween  read-in  reading 

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