Barbara C. Harris

The Project

Barbara coordinates civil legal services to elderly crime victims in Montana, where the state’s rural characteristics and remote geography add to victims’ difficulties finding and receiving resources.

Fellowship Plans

Prior to joining the Elder Justice Program, Barbara worked on another Elder Justice grant helping clients to address exploitation, consumer issues, and civil rights protections.  For many years she was a prosecutor and worked in most counties in Montana, including in criminal cases involving elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.  She continues to provide the screening and presentation of legal claims necessary to address the often long-standing and complicated legal concerns widespread in all communities, given the number of elderly people. The legal services provided by the project are not otherwise available in Montana, so Barbara looks forward to continuing her work alongside crime victim attorneys and navigators at MLSA and within the fellowship system.

Barbara has seen for many years the need for advocacy for elderly persons.  Her knowledge and experience in a myriad of cases support her commitment to provide meaningful work to assist and represent elder clients.

The Project

After Diana completed her Fellowship in the Crimes Victims Justice Corps in the summer of 2020, she joined the New Mexico Immigration Corps for the remainder of the program.

From 2016 to 2020, the New Mexico Immigration Corps deployed lawyers and paralegals to provide critically needed legal aid to immigrant children and families throughout New Mexico. A primary goal of the program was to create a pipeline of new and prospective lawyers from the immigrant community and communities of color into the public interest sector in New Mexico.

Throughout the four-year program, Fellows partnered with public interest programs at the University of New Mexico School of Law to create opportunities for law students interested in working with immigrant populations; collaborated to increase the representation of historically marginalized individuals in the legal profession; coordinated with pro bono attorneys interested in supporting low-income immigrants; and worked with community organizations to provide holistic services and support.

Media

Establishing a Pipeline of Public Interest Attorneys in New Mexico to Support Immigrant Families

Equal Justice Works set me up for success as a public interest attorney. [Equal Justice Works gave me] the opportunity to pursue my interest in immigration law and provided me many opportunities for professional development by organizing yearly conferences where I could learn from my peers and from seasoned public interest attorneys who gave me a glimpse into what my career could look like long term.

Diana Torres /
Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

After Deshawnda completed her Fellowship in the Crimes Victims Justice Corps in the summer of 2020, she joined the New Mexico Immigration Corps for the remainder of the program.

From 2016 to 2020, the New Mexico Immigration Corps deployed lawyers and paralegals to provide critically needed legal aid to immigrant children and families throughout New Mexico. A primary goal of the program was to create a pipeline of new and prospective lawyers from the immigrant community and communities of color into the public interest sector in New Mexico.

Throughout the four-year program, Fellows partnered with public interest programs at the University of New Mexico School of Law to create opportunities for law students interested in working with immigrant populations; collaborated to increase the representation of historically marginalized individuals in the legal profession; coordinated with pro bono attorneys interested in supporting low-income immigrants; and worked with community organizations to provide holistic services and support.

Media

Establishing a Pipeline of Public Interest Attorneys in New Mexico to Support Immigrant Families

The Project

Lauren provides legal services to Bay Area residents harmed by encounters with the police through direct representation, community outreach, and impact litigation to defund the police and reinvest in communities.

Black and Latino communities are subject to constant low-level policing. This results in frequent encounters with officers, who then leverage their power in traffic, infraction, and other enforcement of laws that criminalize ordinary human behavior. All of these police encounters can lead to lifelong health consequences such as PTSD and asthma, the exacerbation of existing mental illnesses, trauma in Black communities, criminal punishment of the police’s victims, and interruption of employment and childcare. A gap in legal services exists when it comes to representing these kinds of injuries, leaving community members with the understanding that they must endure their injuries without redress.

Lauren’s Mexican-American upbringing and pre-law school work with incredible students of color in New York City motivate her commitment to racial justice.

Fellowship Highlights to Date

In the past year, Lauren has:

  • Founded and opened The People’s Clinic, which provides legal support to people who have been harmed by encounters with the police and other law enforcement agencies
  • Met with over 30 clients, drafted 15 government tort claims, and helped file two small claims actions against police departments in Northern California
  • Hosted a webinar for attorneys and activists about policing and surveillance in Northern California
  • Managed client contact and interviews for an investigation into a California city’s police department
  • Drafted portions of a complaint and subsequent motions for NAACP of San Jose/Silicon Valley v. City of San Jose challenging the city’s response to protestors during 2020 uprisings against police violence

Next Steps

In the next year, Lauren plans to:

  • Continue running and expanding the reach of The People’s Clinic
  • Continue providing legal support to current The People’s Clinic clients
  • Draft portions of future motions for NAACP of San Jose/Silicon Valley v. City of San Jose and assist in discovery process
  • Draft sections of the report on a Bay Area city’s housing authority police department
  • Support investigation into a California city’s police department’s policies and practices
  • Engage with communities in Northern California to learn about their experiences with police and how LCCRSF can provide support

The Project

Adam’s project focused on organizing new and existing partners to fight the widespread, multi-faceted, and vastly underreported abuse and neglect of older adults while representing client victims of financial exploitation in consumer debt actions, bankruptcy, housing, and matters involving advanced directives and estate planning.
Adam grew up in Buffalo, where an early consciousness of inequality and his own privileges motivated a social vision of personal success and led to a law school tenure focused on service to the least powerful and most vulnerable members of society. Social work, the human rights paradigm, and non-profit legal services organizations contribute to the ongoing American movement toward more widespread institutional recognition of the dignity of all human beings. Adam aimed to bring all components to bear in his project.

Fellowship Highlights

During the two-year Fellowship, Adam:

  • Provided updates on frequent legal problems facing older adults to the county’s long-term care council
  • Conducted trainings for adult protective services and community organizations
  • Delayed and prevented evictions of elderly, often disabled tenants during the pandemic
  • Reduced or eliminated enormously shocking medical debt, including defending against nursing home debt collection actions

Next Steps

Following his Fellowship, Adam will continue with Legal Assistance of Western New York, Inc. as a staff attorney. In this role, he will contribute to the organization’s ongoing anti-racism efforts and provide free services to the most vulnerable.

Media

Six Ways Public Interest Attorneys Can Combat Elder Abuse in Any Practice Area

The Project

Andrew will serve rural Kentucky, where he has identified a desperate need for legal services for those who have been impacted by a variety of different issues beyond their control.

Elder abuse is a problem due to how extremely under-represented and under-reported it is. This project presents an opportunity to reach out to vulnerable communities and help directly with legal assistance, as well as reaching out to community leaders, other legal service providers, and non-legal service providers to train, educate, and assist in serving rural Kentucky’s aging community in the best ways possible.

Andrew became an attorney with the intention to help those who cannot help themselves. Our elders are people who have been through so much but too often end up feeling like they are helpless and forgotten or, perhaps worse, unwanted. No person should have to go through such feelings, especially when there are means to help them and show them how much they still mean to the world. Andrew is glad to do what he can to provide aid dealing with legal issues and helping older adults feel safe.

Fellowship Plans

As part of this program, Andrew plans to both help the elderly population by direct legal representation, and to reach out to the community to aid in identifying elder abuse. By bringing more visibility to the topic by representation and community outreach, Andrew believes more victims will come forward and receive the help they need.

Media

2015 alum focuses on outreach, advocacy for elderly, rural Kentuckians

The Project

Archie provided coordinated, comprehensive legal services to senior homeowners who are victims of fraud and elder abuse to preserve their homeownership and home equity.

His project helped stabilize local communities by helping lower-income seniors to preserve their assets and financial independence while also preventing homelessness among older adults.

Archie further expanded Bet Tzedek’s capacity to provide victim-centered direct legal services in historically underserved areas of Los Angeles County, including in rural areas such as Palmdale and Lancaster. In addition to providing direct legal services, he conducted presentations on elder abuse and fraud impacting homeowners, home equity protections, crime victims’ rights, civil legal options (e.g. administrative complaints, criminal charges, and affirmative litigation), and social service resources.

Fellowship Highlights

During the two-year Fellowship, Archie:

  • Provided full representation and general advice to an underserved population who sought guidance with housing-related issues.
  • Provided outreach and training throughout Los Angeles County and Antelope Valley to effectuate change within the community through presentations. His outreach created opportunities to present on housing matters with community stakeholders, including the White House, the National Center on Law & Elder Rights / Justice in Aging, high schools, law schools, and many more. Archie impacted around 2,000 people in total during his two-year Fellowship in the middle of a pandemic.
  • Completed a co-project scan to asset map LA County, Antelope Valley, and the High Desert. The goal was to aggregate and depict growth sectors and define resources for resource allocation.
  • Helped launch and facilitate support to the Housing Clinic for expansion within Antelope Valley.

Next Steps

After the completion of his Fellowship in 2022, Archie will join Justice in Aging on the Equity Team. Justice in Aging is a national organization that uses the power of the law to fight senior poverty by securing access to affordable health care, economic security, and the courts for older adults with limited resources. Since 1972, Justice in Aging has focused its efforts primarily on those who have been marginalized and deprived of equal justice, such as women, people of color, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and people with limited English proficiency. Archie continues to support and mentor high school, college, and law school students. He is on the Seattle University School of Law Alumni Board, where he further supports students on campus through mentorship.

Media

Announcing Winners of the 36th Annual Alumni Awards

Advancing Justice for Older Adults

Archie Roundtree Jr. Commends Justice in Aging

Readout of the First Listening Session of the White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable

Fostering a More Just Society

Alum Earns Fellowship To Help Victims of Elder Abuse

Shriver Center’s Racial Justice Institute Announces 47 New Fellows

Bet Tzedek Volunteers Provide Free Legal Services to Those in Need

Alum Earns Fellowship to Help Victims of Elder Abuse

Advancing Equity for Older Adults, Part 2: Putting Strategies into Practice

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day: Empowering Elders Through Connection, Innovation & Protection

Standing up for equality and justice means not allowing the systemic oppression for those who cannot speak for themselves. It is about empowering the community and having the humility to understand it is not about you.

Archie Roundtree, Jr. /
Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Avery’s project  provided direct civil legal services for older victims of crime in North Central Florida. Additionally, Avery conducted training and outreach on elder abuse and exploitation to the local legal and advocate community.

Avery’s motivation to pursue public interest work stemmed from a desire to help people whom the law often overlooks. Avery heard attorneys say that their motivation to seek public interest work stems from “wanting to give a voice to the voiceless,” but that phrase has always struck her as problematic—all clients have voices; the job of an attorney is simply to amplify them. Avery worked with immigrant children who survived abuse, neglect, gang violence, and state violence and with women who have survived domestic and dating violence. Avery’s Fellowship worked with a new group-the elder community to combat abuse and exploitation and to amplify their legal needs.

Fellowship Plans

Avery provided holistic civil legal services to stop abuse and ameliorate the effects of abuse and exploitation, including securing injunctions and discharging debt incurred due to exploitation. The project also obtained, preserved, and increased public benefits that allow elderly victims of crime to obtain or maintain community-based care.

The Project

Brittany will be working to solve any issues relating to abuse, neglect, and exploitation experienced by the elder population in Ithaca, New York, and the surrounding areas. Her work will include landlord-tenant issues, wills, and trust issues that may be of concern to her clients.

Brittany has always been interested in public interest law. Growing up, her family could not afford private attorneys when they needed legal advice, so her mother received a lot of legal assistance from their local legal aid society. Witnessing the diligent and supportive representation that her mother received inspired Brittany to become a lawyer and give back to her community, the same way the attorneys had for her mother.

Fellowship Plans

Brittany will start by working with local nursing homes and agencies to learn more about the legal needs of the senior population in Ithaca, New York.

The Project

Vanessa will support socially and economically vulnerable seniors in the rural areas of Palm Beach and Hendry Counties in Florida, by providing assistance through direct legal services, outreach, and education.

Since graduating from law school, Vanessa has worked tirelessly to help economically disadvantaged communities. Her first job at Legal Aid involved helping victims of domestic violence who could not afford a private attorney in the areas of family law including, but not limited to, divorce and paternity actions. The biggest challenge of that project was when the victim was still financially dependent on the abusive party and cohabitation existed between the parties. Vanessa assisted her clients in getting injunctions, alimony, child support, and resolving any property disputes. It is the kind of work that makes her feel proud of what she does.

Fellowship Plans

Vanessa’s project aims to reduce older individuals’ susceptibility to crimes of financial fraud, exploitation, and abuse through trainings and outreach, and to remedy the deleterious effects of these crimes when they do occur by advocating for victims’ rights and providing full-scope representation when needed. Vanessa’s outreach activities will focus on rural underserved communities throughout the two-county service area and will include presentations and distribution of brochures and flyers at senior community centers.

Media

Improving the National Response to Elder Abuse and Exploitation

Tackling the Gap in Civil Legal Services for Victims of Elder Abuse