spotlight

Even Heroes Need a Hand

Eloise was contacted by her long-term disability insurer for the first time in two decades. After receiving disability benefits for 20 years, the insurance company called out of the blue to tell Eloise that her policy was being reevaluated. Eloise’s access to housing and healthcare were now in jeopardy. Eloise’s case is just one in many that demonstrates how legal struggles often leave our most vulnerable clients feeling intimidated and insecure.

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Dmitri Helps Save His Client’s Housing

When ALRP Staff Attorney Dmitri Pikman’s elderly client was in danger of being evicted, he knew it was going to take more than a persuasive letter to solve his client’s problems. “In addition to being HIV+ the client had a host of other disabilities,” said Dmitri. “He’d been living in his apartment building for over twenty years, and his housing was in jeopardy because the landlord needed to do building-wide pest control measures…”

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Helping Her Community Every Day

When she looks back on her 10-year ALRP career, Managing Attorney Sara Malan remembers the people she’s served. “Soon after I started at ALRP as a staff attorney I did my first emergency will,” she said. “I went to the hospital to help a client. It was very emotional, and I was so glad to have done something so useful…”

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Turning Heartfelt Lessons into Justice Today

Jeff Jacobi, an ALRP Board Executive Committee member, says he likes to stand up for people who have been marginalized. That might be because of his upbringing in Grand Forks, North Dakota, which taught him in more than one way about the importance of helping others. “The people there are more trusting than they are in San Francisco,” he said. “The natural inclination when we meet people is to think: how can we help them?”

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David Brings It All Together for Clients

When ALRP Board Member David Tsai wrote his law school admissions essay describing a client he would be excited to help, he envisioned a transgender, HIV+ person from Mexico. “Just by chance,” he said, “when I became a lawyer the first pro bono case I took on happened to be an HIV+ transgender woman from Mexico.”

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Going Above and Beyond for Her Clients

Panel Attorney Mary Catherine Wiederhold recently had a sobering moment in court while representing an ALRP client in an eviction case. When the issue came up about my client being HIV+, the judge seemed to downplay the impact of HIV. said Mary Catherine. ALRP Staff Attorney John Fasesky was with me, and he told her about the discrimination that people with HIV face every day.

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Danielle’s Commitment to HIV/AIDS Causes

Until recently, Danielle Barnes was volunteering seven days a week for HIV causes, splitting her time between ALRP and an HIV counseling position and somehow managing to get in some time at a retail job to pay the rent. Danielle arrived in San Francisco in 2011 immediately after graduating from Whitman College with a bachelor’s degree in gender studies and a minor in anthropology.

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From Volunteer to Law Clerk to Lawyer

For me, one of the best things about practicing law is that I get to solve problems for people, said attorney Brian Trowbridge. Brian, a former ALRP law clerk, is now a Panel attorney. When I clerked for ALRP I was amazed by how many problems I could help solve without turning to the court.

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Bringing His Dedication to Immigration Cases

While he was earning his undergraduate degree at the University of Georgia in Athens, ALRP Board member and Panel Attorney Adam Podowitz-Thomas worked as an HIV counselor, and it was the plight of one of his clients that pushed him towards a career in law. My client was dropped by his insurance company after being diagnosed HIV+, Adam said. I was so horrified by it. I became dedicated to making sure this didnt happen to anyone else in the future.

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Protecting His Client From Harassment

As soon as my clients landlord found out he was HIV+, she started harassing him, said Panel Attorney Jin Shim. Suddenly she was filing eviction papers and trying to get a restraining order against him. Jins client was woken up at 3 a.m. one night because his landlord was running a paper shredder right outside his front door. When the landlord wasnt running a shredder, she was banging on the stairs or playing the TV or radio upstairs at full blast all night long.

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