OneJustice Blog

Bring life-changing legal help to Californians in need.

Pro bono for veterans – finding a measure of justice

To Serve Those Who Have Served

Lawyers Help Veterans Achieve Peace Of Mind

This Veteran’s Day, we are delighted to bring you a special guest blog post about a special Justice Bus trip.  This piece was first posted on Fenwick & West’s Pro Bono blog and is posted again here with their permission.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

By: Amir Hassanabadi, Associate, Fenwick & West, and Justice Bus Rider

Amir Hassanabadi Pro Bono for VeteransA veteran, by definition, is someone who served honorably on active duty in the armed forces of the United States.  Plans for what comes after a soldier falls find welcome pause in the ordinary demands of life.  But even an ordinary life must end someday.  It must be a shock, then, for some veterans who sacrificed, served and survived for their country, to find themselves too poor to plan for a dignified end.  Where is the justice in that?

The Justice Bus, carrying a squad of volunteer lawyers, wound itself through the foggy hills of San Francisco, past the Golden Gate Bridge and through the hills of the Northern Bay Area towards its final destination in Ukiah, Mendocino County.  Travelling through the town with fellow and former colleagues from Cisco and LinkedIn, we took note that the town was small but tight-knit – a homecoming parade marched through the streets with thunderous marching bands and Instagraming teens in tow.

Volunteers on the Justice Bus

Fenwick, Cisco, and LinkedIn volunteers ride the Justice Bus to rural Ukiah, California.

Disembarking the bus, we were greeted by a cozy Veterans Memorial Building, replete with American flags and welcoming faces.  The staff at OneJustice – a legal services organization dedicated to increasing access to justice in rural and isolated communities – had organized the event well: food and full canteens awaited us.  They trained us, coached us and thanked us.  The veterans who we were tasked with helping had already been screened and informed of the process.  It was orderly and disciplined – soldier-like.

Meeting the veterans provided a stark reminder of the challenges they continue to face long after their war draws to a close.  We met poor veterans.  Cancer survivors.  Those without family and those who had lost them.  Without many resources, these veterans were having a difficult time planning their wills and outlining their end-of-life care.  They worried that they would leave their loved ones with misery instead of security.  To put it simply, they did not have peace of mind.

In teams of two, the Justice Bus volunteers helped bring comfort to these veterans.  Attorneys walked veterans through form wills, personalizing and improvising as they went along.  Veterans had land to be partitioned and pets to be taken care of.  Similarly, attorneys helped veterans make the hard choices with regards to end-of-life care.

Fenwick Justice Bus Volunteer Marion Miller

Fenwick Justice Bus Volunteer Marion Miller

One would think this would be a somber process, but it was just the opposite.  One veteran recommended an amazing museum in the Presidio dedicated to conscientious objectors.  Another told us one of the dirtiest jokes I had heard in a while (not to be repeated here).  These were kind folks who were happy to be interacting with us and getting the help they deserved.

We served 24 veterans that day, but our impact was greater and went deeper than that.  By serving these veterans, we impacted the lives of their families.  We honored their service and their legacy.  And we made sure that the poorest in our communities can leave this world with security and dignity.  Hopefully we found a small measure of justice in that.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The Fenwick & West Justice Bus volunteer team included Priscila Bastazin, Amir Hassanabadi, Greg Hopewell, Nam Kim,Goutham Kondapalli, Liza Kostinskaya, Helen Li, Marion Miller, and Robin Reasoner.

Amir Hassanabadi, a UC Berkeley (Boalt Hall) alum, is an associate in the Corporate practice group at Fenwick & West LLP.  He focuses his practice on a variety of corporate matters to support clients in the high technology and life sciences industries.  A champion of pro bono at the firm, Amir donates his time to Legal Services for Entrepreneurs, leading workshops on business law basics and providing limited-scope representation to low-income small business owners and entrepreneurs who serve underserved communities.  He also shares his expertise with pro bono clients such as Shabeh Jomeh (a Persian networking and charitable group) and Pacific Community Ventures (a nonprofit that creates economic opportunity in low-income communities).  Amir speaks Persian/Farsi and is an avid member of the Fenwick bocce ball team.  Follow Amir on Twitter (@amir__abadi) and on LinkedIn.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Original Article posted on Fenwick & West LLP’s Pro Bono Blog on 10/23/14; reposted here with the permission of Fenwick & West and Amir Hassanabadi.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: