Summary Justice 2021
Clinics Continued During the Pandemic
While we adjusted clinics based on client needs and pandemic circumstances, we continued with many of our regular clinics in our counties, including the Bankruptcy Clinic and our clinics in Cobb County. We also hosted virtual clinics, including an estate planning clinic with Siemens Corporation. Notable clinic include:
- Clayton County Probate Clinic - Initiated with a partnership with the Clayton County Probate Court, this virtual clinic has been very successful, serving 288 clients during 2021.
- Virtual Wills Clinic - In April 2021, we did another virtual wills clinic with the Georgia Bar Young Lawyers Division Women in the Profession Committee to complete wills for Legal Aid clients.
- Holocaust Survivors Wills Clinic - The Pro Bono Unit and Senior Hotline Managing Attorney Hilary Leland worked closely with volunteer attorneys from Nelson Mullins and Jewish Family & Career Services to provide estate planning to a small group of Holocaust survivors on November 12.
- GABWA & Thank Me Later Wills Event - Atlanta Legal Aid's Pro Bono Unit worked closely with local nonprofit Thank Me Later and the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys (GABWA) to hold Black Women Will, an event on November 6 where volunteer attorneys and paralegals created wills and advance directives for 25 community members. Pro Bono Director Cari King and GABWA member Olivia Smith guided the attorney volunteers, Thank Me Later worked with Impact Church to provide a safe, distanced outdoor area for clients to meet with the attorneys, and Pro Bono Unit staff member Kimberly McColley directed the document executions at a printing station with volunteer paralegals. The community members served were very pleased, and at the end of the event, Thank Me Later presented a donation to Atlanta Legal Aid! Here's a short video about the event!
The Legal Aid Education Advocacy Project (LEAP) leapt into action in 2021 by training its first cohort of pro bono attorneys and law students to support the pro bono attorneys. Training consisted of six lessons and one panel of excellent and experienced trainers on topics that attorneys need to understand when working to keep students in school while also fighting racism and ableism. The volunteer attorneys come from all types of settings, and three of them are Kilpatrick Townsend attorneys! Several attorneys have already started working on pro bono education cases from the Kinship Care Unit including Stacie Kershner, Lisa Taylor and Candice McKinley. Sion New has also agreed to accept an IEP case through the Kinship Care Unit. One volunteer is co-counseling a school discipline appeal to the Georgia Department of Education and one is going to work to get a kid out of a restrictive placement in a Georgia Network of Therapeutic Schools (GNETS) school. For more information about GNETS schools follow click here.
LEAP is part of the Kinship Care Unit, because folks in that unit realized that many of their client families needed representation in Individualized Education Program (IEP) and school discipline cases. LEAP also brought attorneys advocating for students together and introduced the pro bono attorneys into this community.
Congrats to a great (though mostly virtual) start to the Legal Aid Education Advocacy Project!
Thank you to our pro bono attorneys in the first LEAP cohort of pro bono attorneys
Katera Nelson, Candice McKinley, Sion New, Stacie Kershner, Allison Mccarthy, Lisa Taylor, Amy Lou Reynolds, Francine B. McQueen, Kimberlynn Davis, Renae Wainwright, Brittany Herbert, Samantha Pline.
Thank you to our GSU law students for learning with the first LEAP cohort and supporting them
Parrie Johnson, Mia Falcon, Dan Wingate, Kaycee B. Hyre, Morganne Cunningham.
A special thank you to our excellent and kind trainers
Leslie Lipson, Sitara Nayak, Randee Waldman, Craig Goodmark, Devon Orland, Christina Scott, Amanda Cole, Marlyn Tillman, Claire Sherburne, Mike Tafelski, Nkoyo Effiong, Tarasha Shirley and her daughter.
Gender-Affirming Name Change Project
This project made strides in partnerships and in reaching clients in 2021. Through the Alston & Bird and Coca-Cola Name Change Clinic, we served 7 new name change clients, who were all referrals from the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund. As of today, 6 of those cases are already complete and the last one will be wrapping up soon. We engaged 8 new volunteers from Alston & Bird and 3 new volunteers from Coca-Cola.
We continue to work closely with Trans Housing Coalition on name and gender marker changes, document correction, and occasionally other issues like housing and benefits. In 2021, we placed 45 name and/or gender marker change cases for trans clients and survivors of family violence.
We are working with the City of Atlanta on a new partnership to help fund administrative costs for our name and gender marker clients. The Mayor’s Division of LGBTQ Affairs has agreed to provide us with a grant that we expect will cover the vast majority of expenses for 2022. This grant will ensure that our clients do not face financial barriers when it's time to update their identity documents, helping smooth the path to future employment, stable housing, health care, and other vital services.