Pro Bono Week Spotlight Day 3: Sandy Fusco

The State Bar of Texas, the Texas Access to Justice Commission, the American Bar Association, and others proudly support the celebration of National Pro Bono Week (Oct. 20-26). Pro Bono Week is an opportunity to educate the public about the good work the legal community is doing to improve the lives of vulnerable Texans and to encourage more individuals in the legal community to get involved in pro bono support of the legal system. Today, we are featuring Sandy Fusco for her invaluable work in the Dallas legal community.

Sandy Fusco is an associate in the commercial litigation section at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP. Earlier this year, she worked as the Weil Gotshal Lend-a-Lawyer full time at Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program for three months while her firm continued to pay her salary. She assisted with client interviews at several clinics, including South Dallas, West Dallas, the veterans clinic, and wills clinics, and worked on a variety of contested matters including probate, divorce, child custody, paternity, and consumer cases.

 

Currently, she is representing a father who is trying to obtain custody of his son and successfully obtained a temporary restraining order preventing the mother from placing the child up for adoption against her client’s wishes. In addition, the father was able to visit his newborn son in the hospital thanks to Fusco’s legal assistance.

“Working as Weil’s Lend-a-Lawyer to DVAP was absolutely fantastic,” Fusco said. “I really appreciate the courtroom experience and direct client contact I have gotten. But the best part is making a difference in my clients’ lives.”

Show You Care: If your firm would like to learn how it can contribute to the pro bono community, please contact the State Bar of Texas Legal Access Division at (800) 204-2222, ext. 1855, or probono@texasbar.com.

 

We Salute You

Rocking lawyer musicians are getting amped up about Law Jam 4, a benefit concert for pro bono legal aid at the Granada Theater in Dallas on August 17. Six bands whose members are comprised of Dallas-area lawyers and judges will be rocking the house to raise money--and awareness--for the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program, a joint initiative of the Dallas Bar Association and Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas that provides free legal services to the poor. 

Musical genres range from roots sounds (Black Dirt Tango's singer Steve Henry lived down the street from Robert Earl Keen back in the day) to eighties tunes (Big Wheel often performs its version of the Modern English hit "I Melt With You") to indie rock (Noah Snark covers the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and Tom Petty, to name a few). 

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the lineup includes Black Dirt Tango (6 p.m.), Blue Collar Crime (6:55 p.m.), Big Wheel (7:50 p.m.), the Catdaddies (9 p.m.), Noah Snark (9:55 p.m.), and Random Blue (10:50 p.m.). Tickets are $25 (advance) or $35 (at the door). For more information or to purchase tickets, go to dbalawjam.org

Legal clinics to aid Dallas County residents

Dallas County residents who meet certain financial guidelines can get free legal advice and consultation at one of nine clinics the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program will host in June.

The schedule appears below:

—East Dallas: 6 p.m. Thursdays, June 6 and 20, at Grace United Methodist Church, 4105 Junius St. at Haskell

—South Dallas: 6 p.m. Tuesdays, June 4, 11, and 25, at Martin Luther King Jr. Center, 2922 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

—West Dallas: 6 p.m. Thursdays, June 13 and 27, at Marillac Social Services Center, 2843 Lapsley St.

—Garland: 6 p.m. Thursday, June 20, at the Salvation Army, 451 W. Avenue D, Garland

—For veterans only: 2 p.m. Friday, June 7, at Dallas VA Medical Center, 4500 S. Lancaster Road

The Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program is a joint effort of the Dallas Bar Association and Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas. Read the news release here.

 

Pro Bono Profile: Mandy Childs

The National Pro Bono Celebration is Oct. 25 to 31, 2009. Each weekday in October, the Texas Bar Blog will feature a Texas attorney who provides pro bono services in the community. Without lawyers like these, too many of our most vulnerable citizens would go without legal representation. For more on the national celebration, visit CelebrateProBono.org.

When Mandy Childs was interviewing for an associate position at Jones Day, she wanted to get one thing straight. “I was looking for law firms that honored pro bono work,” Childs says. “One of the first questions I asked was, ‘What kind of pro bono initiatives do you have?’ ” Childs found her dream firm in Jones Day, which she says supports and encourages pro bono work. Jones Day, she says, treats all pro bono cases just as paid cases.

In fact, last year Childs was the firm’s first attorney to participate in the Lend-A-Lawyer program with the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program, an experience she calls amazing. For three months, the firm “loaned” her to DVAP full-time while she still received her Jones Day salary and benefits. Her time in the program brought her the most rewarding case of her career: helping a mother reunite with her kidnapped son. She was so moved by the experience that she was compelled to help found her firm’s Associate Pro Bono Committee, which pairs associates with partners, to help DVAP staff emergency pro bono cases. “(Jones Day) was immediately on board to take these on,” she says.

Childs, who received her J.D. from Southern Methodist University, co-chairs the 2009–10 Ask-A-Lawyer Committee of the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers. Childs also volunteers as a crisis counselor at the Suicide and Crisis Center of Dallas. “I kind of feel I’m at my best when I’m helping someone who is in crisis,” Child says. “I feel like that is where I shine the most.”