Every month, one of our Pro Bono Legal Services projects spotlight a volunteer in BASF's monthly Bulletin. We would like to show our appreciation for our amazing volunteers, shown below.
Community Organization Representation Project
Stephen Lanctot - February Volunteer of the Month
Stephen Lanctot, Partner at Coblentz Patch Duffy & Bass, has been a volunteer with Community Organization Representation Project (CORP) since 2002. During this time he has overseen a total of 19 cases, eight of which took place in the last three years, and all closed with excellent results. He reflected on how the opportunity presented itself around 20 years ago, “I first learned of JDC’s volunteer opportunities through my firm, Coblentz Patch Duffy & Bass LLP. Coblentz has been collaborating with the Bar Association of San Francisco for many years and I would see frequent listings of available service opportunities from its Justice and Diversity Center,” he said.
“Meeting and working with the committed leaders of organizations striving to improve the lot of underserved members of our community” is one of the highlights of handling these cases, said Lanctot, “and being inspired by their passion, dedication and deep appreciation for my meager efforts.”
Katie Stevens - June Volunteer of the Month
Katie Stevens is a member of Cooley Palo Alto’s pro bono committee, and the Cooley liaison to JDC/CORP. Stevens’ first pro bono client at Cooley was through JDC, leading her to discover the organization through Erin Walczewski, who runs all corporate pro bono at Cooley. She currently practices general corporate and securities law, with an emphasis on representing startups and venture capital funds, counseling companies and their investors through all stages of the business life cycle. This includes pre-incorporation planning through funding rounds, mergers and acquisitions, and initial public offerings.
“Each client’s situation is different, which requires you to really listen to their needs and respond accordingly,” said Stevens. “There is no “right way” or cookie cutter approach to pro bono work, which is what makes it so challenging and so rewarding. It’s a fantastic learning experience and you really get to see how your legal expertise can make a difference with these organizations.”
Stevens urged fellow BASF members to give volunteer opportunities a try if that have not already. “There are so many resources out there to help you get started, so don’t be afraid to jump right in. You may be surprised how much you know already and how much of a difference you can make with that knowledge.”
Family Law Project
Stephanie Huang - March Volunteer of the Month
The impact the Justice & Diversity Center (JDC) has on communities within San Francisco would not be possible without our devoted volunteers. This month we're recognizing Stephanie Huang, Associate Attorney at Stross Mass Cutcher & Levin.
Huang began her legal career at the San Francisco Superior Court's ACCESS Center. While working there, she met and worked alongside Supervising Attorney of the Family Law Project, Antonia More, in her former position at the FLASH program. “I reached out to Antonia during my first year as an attorney to learn about volunteer opportunities and was pleased to become involved in the JDC's Family Law Project,” said Huang.
Although her primary area of practice is family law, she also has experience overseeing guardianship and conservatorship matters. “I enjoy handling JDC's pro bono cases because we provide life-changing services to ensure everyone has a chance at access to justice,” Huang expressed.
Huang urged her fellow BASF members to take the leap and look into volunteering. “Serving as a volunteer attorney is such a rewarding experience. The cases range from simple default divorces to more complex matters. No matter what the issue is, there's always one thing that is consistent: each pro bono client is just thankful for your help and representation.” Aside from JDC's volunteer opportunities, she also recommended volunteering as a Settlement Conference Officer for the Self-Represented Litigants to hone in on your mediation skills. “These opportunities are invaluable to both the volunteer attorneys and the litigants,” said Huang.
Federal Pro Bono Project
Steve Williams - April Volunteer of the Month
The Justice & Diversity Center (JDC) advances equality to low-income communities in San Francisco, an effort that is made possible with our devoted volunteers' selfless contribution of time. This month we are recognizing Steve Williams, Partner at Joseph Saveri Law Firm.
Williams initially discovered JDC’s volunteer opportunities while reading a BASF publication, since then he has added four years of volunteer experience under his belt. He explained the source of his gratification comes from the ability to make a difference in people’s lives and helping our community. “The cases that I have worked on have affected changes in law enforcement procedures… All of the cases have been rewarding, because in all of them the relief that my client received was life changing,” said Williams. He recalled working on a significant case that caused a local city to require police officers to wear body cameras.
William’s primary areas of expertise include trial, complex federal litigation, and antitrust. The multifaceted attorney advised fellow members to seek the plethora of volunteer opportunities within JDC if they have not already. “There are opportunities to help pro se litigants, to help the court, and to gain in-court experience before the judges of the Northern District. It is a win for everyone.”
Aaron P. Silberman - August Volunteer of the Month
Silberman is currently a managing shareholder at Rogers, Joseph O'Donnell, as well as a former Chair and member of JDC's Leadership Council.
Silberman initially received a notice from the Federal Pro Bono Project of the Northern District Court before it was run by JDC, since then he became involved with JDC’s Leadership Council. His areas of expertise include construction, government contracts, and employment law.
The experience of volunteering has been nothing short of rich and rewarding for Silberman, and beneficial for the clients. “Even in limited representations in which we don’t succeed in our immediate objective (e.g., resolving the case at a settlement conference), we help our clients understand their cases and rights much better,” said Silberman. This not only helps clients, but also the court he explained.
“If you litigate in federal court, the Federal Pro Bono Project is a great opportunity not only to provide a valuable service to clients in need and the court, but also to get valuable experience and interaction with the Northern District judges, magistrates and volunteer mediators,” Silberman recommended.
Community Based Legal Clinics
Shawn Matloob - May Volunteer of the Month
Shawn Matloob volunteers at JDC’s two free legal clinics on a monthly basis. Coming to America as an unaccompanied minor refugee, Matloob began his involvement in immigration and refugee issues the summer before law school, when he volunteered at La Raza’s citizenship clinic in Oakland. Since then, Matloob’s legal career has focused on immigration. He established his own practice in 2005, and is currently serving as the American Immigration Lawyers Association NorCal Chapter’s co-liaison for San Francisco United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Matloob originally participated in the in-person Saturday Legal Advice and Referral Clinics (LARC) at UC Hasting, and now continues to volunteer at both the remote version of LARC and our clinic at The Women’s Building in the Mission District.
To those interested in volunteering with JDC, Matloob said “it’s a great way to get involved, to learn about the practice, to network with other attorneys, and [...] it brings personal satisfaction as well.” While speaking about the clinics, he shared that “many clients have more than one issue, more than immigration issues, so it’s great to have other attorneys in other areas of law who are also volunteering, either to refer them to those attorneys for the other issues they are dealing with, or when their clients have an immigration issue, they can refer to me.”
Jessica L. Chylik - May Volunteer of the Month
Jessica L. Chylik initially discovered JDC’s available volunteer opportunities while attending law school in the late 1990s. Albeit challenging, she expressed the direct impact her services have on clients has been monumental and fulfilling for her. She shared that "the gratitude of confused, scared clients for lawyers taking time to hear their situation, address their concerns, and point them to assistance” stands out across all her experiences as an attorney.
Her expertise as a sole practitioner attorney lies in landlord-tenant law, especially under the San Francisco Rent Ordinance. Chylik views herself as an educator, so when asked to share advice to her fellow BASF members, she expressed, “we have the privilege of education. We have the obligation to use our education to benefit others.” on a significant case that caused a local city to require police officers to wear body cameras.