by Nikki Presley Miliband
WHAT IS THE OCBA CHARITABLE FUND?
The charitable giving arm of the OCBA is the Orange County Bar Association Charitable Fund, a separate 501(c)(3) entity dedicated to improving the Orange County community and legal profession by facilitating access to justice through grants to pro bono legal providers and legal related charities. Just this year, the Charitable Fund awarded $222,000 in grants to seventeen worthwhile pro bono legal providers and/or legal related charities providing much needed legal services to the underserved populations in Orange County. In fact, during its existence, the Charitable Fund has awarded grants totaling nearly $2 million to pro bono legal providers and legal related charities, and over $3 million if you include the funds raised through the OCBA Lawyer Referral Information Service (LRIS).
How does the Charitable Fund provide these grants? By the funds raised at two signature events, the annual Kenneth Lae Golf Tournament (held on April 1st), and the annual fall gala, the Raise Your Glass event. This year’s Raise Your Glass event will be held on August 22 at the Newport Beach Country Club, and I hope you all can join us. What to expect? Great music, amazing wine tasting from numerous outstanding wineries, scrumptious food, unique silent and live auction items, and a great opportunity to mingle and mix with approximately 350 to 400 of Orange County’s bench and bar, all the while helping to raise funds for pro bono legal services. You won’t want to miss it!
The OCBA’s mission is “To Enhance the System of Justice, To Support the Lawyers Who Serve It, and To Assist the Community Served By It.” The Charitable Fund supports the programs and organizations who “assist the community served by it” through its grants. In 2019, the Charitable Fund awarded the following grants:
California Youth Connection CYC
Creating Leaders From Within - $5,000
Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law
Bette and Wylie Aitken Family Protection Clinic - $12,000
Collaborative Courts Foundation
Orange County Participant Assistance Program - $12,000
Community Legal Aid SOCAL
Legal Aid in Action to provide direct legal assistance to homeless individuals in Orange County - $35,000
Concordia University Irvine
United We Stand: Civility, Citizenship and the Constitution - $2,000
Constitutional Rights Foundation – Orange County
Project: Civic Education - $45,000
Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)
Mentor Advocate Program - $4,000
Elder Law & Disability Rights Center
Senior Legal Clinic and Homeless Citation Legal Clinic - $2,000
Family Legal Assistance at CHOC Children’s
2019 HEALTH Initiative: Helping Expand Access to Lawyers, Treatment & Healthcare - $5,000
Legal Advocacy Program - $10,000
Legal Advocacy Program - $10,000
OCBF Project Youth
Project SELF - $5,000
Public Law Center
Orange County Expanded Domestic Violence Assistance Program - $25,000
University of California, Irvine School of Law
Pre-Law Outreach Program (POP) - $5,000
University of California, Irvine School of Law
Saturday Academy of Law (SAL) - $5,000
Veterans Legal Institute
Pro Bono Veterans Legal Mobile Clinics - $30,000
Women’s Transitional Living Center (WTLC)
Survivor Immigration Legal Services - $10,000
A LOOK BACK AT THE HISTORY OF THE ANNUAL BENEFIT
Beginning in 1988, the OCBA through its charitable arm has held an annual Fall Gala. From 1988 to 1991, it was formal, black-tie dinner dances; then there were several years of Crystal Casino at Crystal Court at South Coast Plaza; then came a series of various themed galas, including Blues and Brews, 80’s theme, tropical island theme, and more. Then came the Raise Your Glass event in 2013, and this year we are hosting our seventh Raise Your Glass. This event also provides an opportunity for the Charitable Fund to recognize various individuals, law firms, corporations, and/or community partners for their contributions to access to justice and support of the Charitable Fund.
OUR 2019 HONOREES: A HUGE THANK YOU!
Community Partner Honoree: Orange County Superior Court, Collaborative Courts Program
Not all Orange County attorneys may be familiar with the Orange County Superior Court Collaborative Courts Program (“Collaborative Courts”)—I know I wasn’t until a few years ago. If you haven’t had a chance to visit and/or participate in the proceedings, I highly recommend you stop by to see the amazing accomplishments by the Collaborative Courts. I encourage you to attend one of the graduations—very seldom is there a dry eye in the room.
Collaborative Courts are “problem solving” or “solution” courts that work on the underlying personal issues of those going through the criminal justice system. These courts are at the center of addressing Orange County’s needs as they relate to veterans, homeless people, and those with mental health issues. The program involves a team approach to decision-making with a judge monitoring the case. The team consists of the judges, various agencies, health treatment providers, public defenders, and district attorneys.
The various Collaborative Courts include Adult Drug Court, DUI Court, Homeless Outreach Court, Juvenile Recovery Court, Opportunity Court, Recovery Court, Military Diversion Court, Truancy Court, Veterans Court, WIT Court (Whatever It Takes), and Teen Court. Judge Mary Kreber Varipopa oversees Orange County’s Collaborative Courts, and the four juvenile collaborative courts are presided over by Judge Joanne Motoike.
The Charitable Fund contributes funds to the Collaborative Courts Foundation, which provides the individuals participating in the collaborative courts with some of the necessities to succeed, such as transportation costs to and from jobs, specific work attire, and other assistance. Additionally, the OCBA’s Pro Bono Committee is charged with connecting OCBA members with pro bono opportunities. In order for people going through the Collaborative Courts to succeed, they must meet certain thresholds, including having a job, a place to live, and other life essentials. However, many of these individuals have some civil issues that impede them from accomplishing these required goals. To that end, and in furtherance of the Pro Bono Committee’s goal, the OCBA is in the final stages of working with the court and pro bono legal providers to implement a program so that OCBA members can volunteer to provide civil pro bono legal services to participants in the Collaborative Courts. We’ll keep you updated on this as it develops.
There are many stakeholders who support and have made the Orange County Collaborative Courts Program such a success: the Orange County Board of Supervisors, District Attorney Todd Spitzer, Public Defender Sharon Petrosino, Probation Chief Steven J. Sentman, and Sheriff Don Barnes, not to mention Presiding Judge Kirk Nakamura, who has made expansion of the Collaborative Courts one of his strategic priorities. With the joint efforts of these stakeholders and OCBA members, Orange County may be a model for other counties on how to resolve many issues based in homelessness, veteran status, or mental illness.
Corporate Honoree: The Home Depot
One of the Charitable Fund’s longstanding grant recipients is the Public Law Center (PLC), so if you are a supporter of PLC, you likely have heard of the amazing pro bono legal work being done by The Home Depot’s Orange County legal department for PLC’s Domestic Violence Assistance Program (DVAP). PLC operates the DVAP clinic at the Orange County Superior Court. Through DVAP, The Home Depot’s California Legal Team (lawyers, paralegals, and legal assistants) assists victims of domestic violence in obtaining temporary restraining orders. Specifically, in addition to reviewing and helping victims to complete the requisite forms, The Home Depot’s California Legal Team listens to victims tell their stories of what brought them to the clinic and, using that information, prepares supporting declarations for the victims to sign and present as evidence to the court at the hearings requesting the issuance of temporary restraining orders.
In addition, The Home Depot California Legal Team also organizes and participates in various Team Depot community service projects through its partnership with Asian Americans Advancing Justice—Orange County. With grant funding from The Home Depot Foundation, The Home Depot connects their local store/district teams with several Orange County non-profit community organizations (such as AAAJ-OC, Southland Services, Korean Community Services, and Orange County Asian Pacific Islander Community Alliance) to lend a helping hand and an army of Orange Aprons. Some of these projects include renovating headquarter offices/community meeting spaces, planting gardens, and providing support for citizenship workshops and fundraisers.
Law Firm Honoree: Keller/Anderle LLP
Keller/Anderle LLP is a 100% women-owned law firm focusing on litigation of complex matters that place a company, fortune, or liberty on the line. Keller/Anderle LLP has fourteen attorneys who, between them, have conducted over 400 jury trials and received over $925 million in verdicts for plaintiff clients and has successfully defended many high stakes cases in the areas of class actions, white collar crime, securities, and commercial litigation. The founding partners of Keller/Anderle LLP are Jennifer Keller, OCBA’s 1996 President, and Kay Anderle. Not only is Keller/Anderle LLP a powerhouse in the courtroom, they also have a firm mantra of giving back to the community. Keller/Anderle LLP has supported many of the pro bono legal providers in Orange County, represented homeless advocacy groups and homeless individuals in an action for failure to provide emergency shelter access required by California law, and has been a longstanding supporter of the Charitable Fund’s two annual fundraisers, the Judge Kenneth Lae Golf Tournament and Raise Your Glass.
A LOT OF HELP FROM MY FRIENDS: CHEERS TO OUR LEGAL COMMUNITY
This year, as Immediate Past President of the OCBA, I have the honor of serving as President of the Charitable Fund. The heavy lifting for this event has been done by Mei Tsang of Umberg Zipser and Todd Friedland of Stephens Friedland, this year’s Raise Your Glass co-chairs. Thank you Todd and Mei for all your dedication and work on behalf of the Charitable Fund! Also, Raise Your Glass could not exist without our amazing Wine Committee co-chairs, Howard Privette and Christina Zabat-Fran, or our Auction Committee co-chairs, Carley Millian and Kristen Spada. In addition, a big thanks goes out to the efforts and support from the Charitable Fund Board of Directors, the OCBA Board of Directors, OCBA Past Presidents, and the OCBA CEO/Executive Director, Trudy Levindofske, Assistant Executive Director, Carole Martinez, and the OCBA staff.
The year-after-year support from our legal community through generous sponsorships of our events, attendance at our events, donations to the Charitable Fund and participation in our auctions is what makes the Charitable Fund work. This year we need all of you to help raise the funds to support the programs mentioned above and make this year’s Raise Your Glass the best yet. Join us on August 22nd to support these causes and celebrate our honorees. Register today at www.ocbar.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 949-440-6700. See you there!
Nikki Presley Miliband is the 2019 OCBA Charitable Fund President and a trust and estate litigator at Good Wildman. Reach her at email@example.com.