December 3, 2010
Dear Friend of the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation:
AVLF looks quite different from the Foundation you may have known, worked with and supported even just a few years ago. Led by a solid and successful Strategic Plan, we are representing more clients, recruiting, training and involving more volunteer attorneys, and working more expansively in more courts than ever before.
It has been quite a year. In the past twelve months the Saturday Lawyer Program, now 40 years old, enjoyed a rebirth. Instead of simply being handed a file and asked to represent a stranger based on a telephone interview conducted by AVLF or Atlanta Legal Aid staff, volunteer attorneys now meet with potential clients to confirm that they believe there is a cognizable legal issue that should receive the assistance of pro bono counsel: the volunteer attorney then may decide to represent that client. This year, the Guardian ad Litem Program evolved to focus much more clearly on the placement of Guardians only in cases where the parties in dispute meet AVLF income guidelines. Our One Child One Lawyer Program matured, representing more than thirty children whose parents, having achieved stability and sobriety, graduated from the program allowing for reunification of mothers and children. As well, in 2010 the OCOL Program celebrated 8 adoptions of client children whose parents were unable to be successful in drug treatment into new "forever families."
The Chief Counsel for the American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence described the Domestic Violence Program's Safe Families Office as a "model best practices program." That Office, located in Courtroom 6G of the Fulton County Courthouse, saw more than 2900 victims of intimate partner violence. AVLF's Wills Program trained 156 lawyers in the art of will-drafting, coordinated eight outings to local Senior Centers and oversaw the drafting of 130 Wills in 2010. Lawyers of the Atlanta Bar Association's Estate Planning & Probate Section continued its outstanding work in the Probate Information Center, offering free 30 minuteconsultations scheduled by the Probate Court itself to those with probate questions. The new substantive issue that grew most dramatically in 2010 was the Protection of Tenants in Foreclosure, and AVLF attorneys worked with volunteers from the private Bar, partners in the public interest community and law students studying the foreclosure issue to secure legal protections for this vulnerable population and to plan for legislative advocacy in the coming years. While this work was expanding, more than 30 pro bono lawyers maintained our Eviction Defense Program's work protecting tenants facing imminent eviction from their homes.
Our signature fundraising event, the AVLF Winetasting, hosted in 2010 by Seyfarth Shaw at their exquisite new Atlanta offices, for the ninth consecutive year broke new ground, this year raising over $330,000. Over 500 individuals and nearly seventy law firms, accounting firms and related entities made generous donations to the cause. And please mark November 3, 2011 now- the 20th Annual Winetasting will be spectacular.
But the most noticeable change about the Foundation is the fact that most of you noticed the changes! That is directly attributable to AVLF's very conscious expansion of our social network. Friend us on FaceBook. Read our blogs. Be Linked In to the AVLF Staff. Learn of our activities on Twitter. We want to make it easily possible for you to learn of pro bono opportunities, to keep pace with the news of the Foundation, and to help us to do everything we can to promote the possibility the clients, the legal community and the Courts will work together more effectively in the pursuit of equal access to justice.
While we have less funding than was available in 2009, in 2010 I am more convinced than ever that AVLF is a remarkable place, equipped to face the challenges and the possibilities that will surely mark 2011 as clearly as the opportunities and concerns that arose in 2010. Thank you for your interest in the work of the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation: our Board of Directors and our Staff join me in wishing you the very best throughout the holidays.
Marty Ellin, Executive Director
Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation
Visit our website to learn more about AVLF's programs and services and/or to make an end of the year donation to our organization. Thank you for your support!