Legal Clinic

17 03, 2017

Attorney Spotlight: Brittani Lemonds

By |March 17th, 2017|Blog, Legal Clinic|0 Comments|

UVA students have the opportunity to learn about the legal process by working closely with local attorneys in our Legal Clinic. The commitment from our local attorneys and student interns has allowed our clinic to grow and meet a greater need in the community. Since 2013, we have added a summer legal clinic and increased the frequency of our clinics from once a month, to twice a month, allowing us to meet the needs of more clients all year long. While you can get to know our hard-working interns through our student spotlight series, we want to shine light on the dedicated attorneys who donate their time to our legal clinic.

 

Get to know Brittani Lemonds of MichieHamlett Attorneys at Law!

A recent graduate from the University of Richmond School of Law, Brittani now works at MichieHamlett Attorneys at Law in Charlottesville and has been a gracious volunteer at the Women’s Center’s Free Legal Clinic since the summer of 2016.

What was your concentration in law school and why does that interest you today?

I didn’t have a specific concentration at the beginning, which I think is the best way to approach law school.  However, once I started getting acquainted with the class offerings and tried a few things out, I ultimately focused my course work on classes specifically dealing with domestic relations, children and the law, and collaborative law.  My interest in this practice area really started during my second year of law school when I took “Family Law” with Professor Meredith Harbach.  Professor Harbach is a real powerhouse of a woman and served as an invaluable mentor to me throughout law school.  I think I felt drawn to family law because of the inherently personalized nature of the practice.

Currently, an area of the law that I find particularly interesting deals with the legal regulation of reproductive medicine.  Most of my research during the third year of law school focused on Assisted Reproductive Technology (or “ART”).  ART encompasses an industry in which modern advances in reproductive technology are constantly creating new ways for couples and individuals to achieve pregnancy and birth.  While much of ART is currently based in contract law, it intersects with family law in a way that is particularly relevant with the changing legal landscape of marriage equality and reproductive freedom.  It probably goes without saying, but I feel like it is an exciting and important time to be practicing family law.  Like many other areas of the law, reproductive technology is evolving at a much faster pace than the legal framework that supports it.  Similar to general family law practice, I find the personalized nature of ART particularly appealing.  ART is an ever-changing area of the law that I soon hope to incorporate into my domestic practice.

19 01, 2017

Attorney Spotlight: John Ralston

By |January 19th, 2017|Blog, Legal Clinic|0 Comments|

UVA students have the opportunity to learn about the legal process by working closely with local attorneys in our Legal Clinic. The commitment from our local attorneys and student interns has allowed our clinic to grow and meet a greater need in the community. Since 2013, we have added a summer legal clinic and increased the frequency of our clinics from once a month, to twice a month, allowing us to meet the needs of more clients all year long. While you can get to know our hard-working interns through our student spotlight series, we want to shine light on the dedicated attorneys who donate their time to our legal clinic.


Get to know John Ralston of E. Randall Ralston, P.C.!

A 2015 graduate from the University of Richmond School of Law, John Ralston is already putting his degree to good use at his family’s practice, E. Randall Ralston, P.C., in Charlottesville and right here at the UVA Women’s Center Free Legal Clinic. The clinic is held twice a month on Tuesday evenings at the Corner Building on the UVA Corner, and serves about 6 clients per clinic or about 12 clients per month. Clients reach out to us either by phone (434-982-2361) or email (freelegalclinic@virginia.edu) to sign up for thirty minute pro-bono consultations with an attorney. Attorneys from around the community graciously volunteer their time to serve on one of our clinics. Mr. Ralston has graciously gone above and beyond serving on two of our clinics this fall, taking time out of his busy schedule to give back to the community at our clinics.

 While Mr. Ralston was at U of R his concentration was in corporate law and contracts since he greatly enjoys the drafting process and having to tailor a document to a client’s objectives. Outside of his studies in law school, he volunteered for the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society’s Bankruptcy clinic and the Carrico Center Housing program. Today he focuses his work on real estate, corporate and incorporation, estate planning, land use and zoning, and landlord or tenant issues. Giving back is obviously an integral part of Mr. Ralston’s work, or as he likes to put it, “I often see clients in desperate circumstances, and I find it rewarding to help them develop a plan and counsel them through bad times.” We’re grateful for all the help he has provided us. Charlottesville is lucky to have him!

 

2 08, 2016

Veterans Benefits Legal Clinic set for Wednesday, August 17

By |August 2nd, 2016|Legal Clinic|0 Comments|

The UVA Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center, in collaboration with attorneys with the Veterans Benefit Group of Goodman Allen Donnelly, are hosting a Free Veterans Benefits Legal Clinic for veterans in the Charlottesville community. The clinic will be held on Wednesday, August 17 from 1-7pm at Open Grounds, 1400 University Avenue.   This pro bono clinic enables a Veteran to meet with an attorney one-on-one to discuss questions about disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Former Legal Clinic intern, Comfort Allotey commented, “This is an exciting event for us because it greatly expands on what we already do –  connecting with the larger Charlottesville community and giving back as we have also benefitted from the community. I believe that one of the biggest injustices we have today in the U.S. is failing to properly reintegrate veterans into society when they return from combat – whether it be in terms of housing, employment or healthcare. It is amazing that Goodman Allen and Donnelly have taken on this need pro bono, to help veterans with their benefits. This is a much needed supplement to the free legal clinic we already have at the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center, as most of our attorneys deal with family law, landlord disputes, and business. I hope that based on the turnout of the veteran’s legal clinic, we can figure out what kind of needs we have in the Charlottesville community pertaining to servicemen and women. ” 

If you are interested in participating in the clinic, please complete this form prior to calling (434) 817-2189 to pre-register for the clinic.

 

For more information on the Legal Clinic program at UVA Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s center, visit http://womenscenter.virginia.edu/legal-clinic/

For more information about Veterans Benefits legal services through the Veterans Benefit Group of Goodman Allen Donnelly, visit www.vet1010.com

3 02, 2016

Veterans Benefits Free Clinic to be held on February 18

By |February 3rd, 2016|Blog, Legal Clinic|0 Comments|

The UVA Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center, in collaboration with attorneys with the Veterans Benefit Group of Goodman Allen Donnelly, are hosting a Free Veterans Benefits Legal Clinic for veterans in the Charlottesville community. The clinic will be held on Thursday, February 18, 2016 from 1:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Open Grounds, 1400 University Avenue.  This pro bono clinic enables a Veteran to meet with an attorney one-on-one to discuss questions about disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Ms. Erin Ralston, an attorney with the Veterans Benefit Group, worked with Sarah Steele at the UVA Women’s Center to organize and spread the word about the event. Ms. Ralston said, “The VA disability benefits process is very complicated, and these clinics provide Veterans with an opportunity to meet with an experienced attorney to go over the challenges they’ve faced and get insight into how to overcome the hurdles on their cases.”

Legal Clinic intern, Comfort Allotey commented, “This is an exciting event for us because it greatly expands on what we already do –  connecting with the larger Charlottesville community and giving back as we have also benefitted from the community. I believe that one of the biggest injustices we have today in the U.S. is failing to properly reintegrate veterans into society when they return from combat – whether it be in terms of housing, employment or healthcare. It is amazing that Goodman Allen and Donnelly have taken on this need pro bono, to help veterans with their benefits. This is a much needed supplement to the free legal clinic we already have at the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center, as most of our attorneys deal with family law, landlord disputes, and business. I hope that based on the turnout of the veteran’s legal clinic, we can figure out what kind of needs we have in the Charlottesville community pertaining to servicemen and women. ” 

If you are interested in attending the clinic, please fill out this intake sheet before calling (804) 565-3532 to pre-register for the event. You must pre-register in order to attend this event.

 

For more information on the Legal Clinic program at UVA Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s center, visit http://womenscenter.virginia.edu/legal-clinic/

For more information about Veterans Benefits legal services through the Veterans Benefit Group of Goodman Allen Donnelly, visit www.vet1010.com

 

18 11, 2015

Student spotlight: Meghan Grumbling

By |November 18th, 2015|Blog, Interns, Legal Clinic|0 Comments|

Get to know Legal Clinic intern, Meghan Grumbling!

Year: 2nd
Major: Government and Women, Gender, and Sexuality
Hometown: Smithfield, VA

What do you miss most about your hometown when you’re at UVA?
I lived in Smithfield, Virginia (located in Hampton Roads) my entire life before moving to Charlottesville for school, so I know the area quite well! Downtown Smithfield is absolutely gorgeous; with Victorian style houses, locally owned bakeries and an ice cream parlor, and a wonderful park. It’s a great area!

Why are you passionate about the Women’s Center?
As a Women, Gender and Sexuality major, I am incredibly interested in women’s rights and empowerment. I am a proud feminist and as such, I believe the work that the Women’s Center does is vital to the Charlottesville community. Specifically, my work with the Legal Clinic provides much needed legal advice from attorneys to community members for free. Legal advice is incredibly expensive, but necessary for so many people, so the work the Women’s Center is doing is transforming the lives of many in the Charlottesville area.

5 10, 2015

University’s Title IX Coordinator Visits Women’s Center

By |October 5th, 2015|Blog, Gender Violence and Social Change, Legal Clinic|0 Comments|

In the long run, the level of attention brought to the issue of sexual assault nationally and locally over the past couple of years is bound to be a good thing. While difficult discussions and decisions continue to be broached in the public arena and in the private settings in which survivors seek formal services and informal support, here are just a couple of points of agreement that can help to ground us all.

One thing we know is that the long run is likely to be quite long indeed in coming. Experienced providers of services for survivors and seasoned advocates for more informed and effective policies know that we won’t quickly resolve the many, interrelated challenges we face in the realm of gender-based violence. Students, faculty, administration, parents and alumni all have a role to play in sustaining attention to the issue of sexual assault at the level it merits despite the ups and downs of news cycles.

Another thing of which we can be sure is that it will continue to be true that schools, service providers, survivors and their supporters find themselves in an exceedingly complex landscape of laws, regulations and policies on gender-based violence. The civil rights implications of gender-based violence in educational settings, professional confidentiality standards, the workings of the criminal justice system, best-practices for supporting survivors, communities’ interest in data that can help to promote safety, and other factors inform the procedures followed in different but intersecting realms.

24 05, 2014

Legal Clinic at Women’s Center expands to summer months

By |May 24th, 2014|Blog, Interns, Legal Clinic|0 Comments|

When U.Va. government and foreign affairs student Amanda Swanson was a second-year, she went from competing in the Virginia Mock Trial to interacting with lawyers at the Women’s Center as a Legal Clinic intern. With her recent graduation, she is now applying the knowledge she gained in these experiences to the job she will begin in June as a litigation assistant at the MoloLamken law firm in Washington D.C.

“I think it was something that was valuable […] to be a part of because in mock trial, we were working with fake cases–the Legal Clinic gave us a chance to use some of what we learned to have a real positive impact on our community,” Swanson said.

The monthly clinic aims to provide professional legal advice to any male or female Charlottesville resident or University faculty and staff member, while students utilize separate legal counsel on Grounds. A majority of clients seek advice regarding family law (e.g. divorce, family custody, wills and estates) or in property law (e.g. landlord-tenant disputes).

Click here to see more information about the summer Legal Clinics.

For the first time, the Legal Clinic at the Women’s Center is now available through the entire calendar year, not just during the school year, due to additional available lawyers and the employment of a summer intern.

“To be able to provide assistance year-round and not have to turn people away or ask them to wait for months at a time is huge,” Swanson said. “It translates to very real consequences for how quickly people are able to resolve conflicts that are occupying a tremendous amount of time and worry for them.”

At the start of 2013 fall semester, Legal Clinic Supervisor Sarah Adams encouraged Swanson and the other interns to expand the database of lawyers by researching local legal services, writing to lawyers and following up with phone calls to spark interest. A major part of the Legal Clinic internship is the “stewardship of the lawyers” so the interns learned how to not only recruit the lawyers but also how to maintain connections through thank-you notes and continual communication.

“I think the best attorneys we’ve worked with have made it clear how important it is to meet people where they are,” Swanson said. “When you’re facing a legal problem of any kind, it can be incredibly intimidating, and to have someone who is able to sit with you, let you guide the conversation to answer the most important questions to you, and give you a road map to what the next step might be–it’s hard to overstate how meaningful that can be.”

On the client side, Adams and the interns worked closely with Chuck Moran, Marketing Communications Manager for the Women’s Center, with creating new advertising like flyers and bus inserts, as well as increasing outreach. Interns posted flyers in places within the city such as the Shelter for Help and Emergency, the Sexual Assault Resource Agency, the Women’s Initiative and within public libraries.

In the course of rebuilding and re-organizing this program in the past couple of years, Adams said she “quickly learned that supervising interns paralleled teaching in a significant way […]”  Prior to working at the Women’s Center, Adams taught Russian in the U.S. and English in Russia to a range of ages from children to adult. Adams is also a U.Va. undergraduate and graduate alumna, and her first experience in front of the classroom was as a T.A. here.

“[…] At the Women’s Center, part of the role of a supervisor is to share one’s knowledge of the skills required to run a certain program and provide guidance while our interns are acquiring that knowledge.  I always loved that about teaching and am so happy I can continue in that role with our Legal Clinic interns each year.”

With more structure including monthly meetings and increased involvement and guidance in creating effective lawyer-client relationships, Swanson attributed Adams as the “support and structure [that] has been crucial in helping us expand our opportunities this year.”

Through the Legal Clinic, Adams hopes that the undergraduate student interns ultimately gain insight into the legal process, as well as learn how to interact with potential clients dealing with sensitive situations, how to maintain stewardship with lawyers and how to best advertise services.

“Most of all, I hope that I can impart just a little bit of my passion to them for helping others and hope that they finish their experience with the Legal Clinic taking away the gratification and deep happiness that can come from that, “ Adams highlighted.

By Agnes Filipowski