www.vlinj.org 
Summer  2018 
Hello Friends, 

Summer is a time that makes me think of community. It must be the BBQs with family, block parties with friends, and firework celebrations with neighbors. Here at VLJ, we are part of a vital community. We collaborate with countless organizational partners and government offices. We partner with hundreds of volunteers who bring legal expertise and compassion to every case. And we rely on the vision and generosity of our donors, who enable VLJ to help thousands of low-income and vulnerable New Jersey residents each year. 
 
Our community stepped up and stepped out this summer. We just completed another successful year of our Just One campaign, where individual lawyers financially support VLJ's work. This year, the effort raised over $17,900! We would like to thank all of the team captains who led the fundraising efforts in their offices and each individual donor. We would also like to recognize the lawyers at  Gibbons and  McGuireWoods for their leadership and for raising the most funds in our large office and small office categories. Check out the list of donors on our webpage at  www.vljnj.org/justone/.
The VLJ community stepped out at our annual Summer SoirĂ©e organized by VLJ's Generation Now young professionals committee led by Kelly Lloyd Lankford at Dentons and Kaitlin Stone at Drinker Biddle & Reath. It was a fun event featuring a fierce cornhole competition, a chance for colleagues to connect, and a moving talk by a lawyer and client team Anne Collart and Erica Coleman. 

The next opportunity for the VLJ community to celebrate is at our Arts & Eats for Justice dinner on November 14th. It promises to be another moving event where we can come together to celebrate the collective impact that we make on NJ by, "Taking Cases. Changing Lives." We hope to have you join us. Thank you for making VLJ a transformative community and enjoy the rest of your summer!

Cathy Keenan
Executive Director
Volunteer of the Month: 
Sneha Desai

Making a positive impact on the community can take many different forms - whether it's volunteering at a limited-scope legal clinic, serving on the board of a legal services organization, or even founding a non-profit to provide assistance in another country. VLJ volunteer and BASF attorney Sneha Desai has done it all.
 
In January 2008, Sneha joined BASF Corporation in Florham Park, NJ. She serves as Deputy General Counsel, managing the company's litigation portfolio in North America for everything from product liability claims to antitrust matters to breach of contract lawsuits.
Pro bono work has been important to Sneha ever since law school, where she volunteered in the Guild Food Stamp Clinic. While at Patterson Belknap, a firm that strongly encouraged its attorneys to do pro bono work, she worked for several years on a case representing a group of intellectually disabled men who had been taken advantage of by a home healthcare provider into having unnecessary prostate surgery.

VLJ Grows Newark's Access to Justice As A Sub-Grantee for New Program: Promise Neighborhood
The Promise Neighborhood program was created by the USDOE with the vision that all children and youth growing up in Promise Neighborhoods have access to great schools and strong systems of family and community support that will prepare them to attain an excellent education and successfully transition to college and a career.


The South Ward Children's Alliance Promise Neighborhood (SWCAPN), along with 20 + partner organizations (including VLJ), will build upon existing community assets to integrate and coordinate a two-generation continuum of high quality schools and programs that meet the academic, social and emotional, and health needs of children while stabilizing and empowering families to achieve self-sufficiency. SWCAPN zone serves children and families in the South Ward of Newark; specifically in the Upper Clinton Hill and Dayton areas.

VLJ's role will be to provide free legal services to the children and families in the South Ward. Through coordination with the SWCAPN, VLJ plans to conduct legal screenings with potential clients to determine what, if any, legal needs are present and provide assistance accordingly, in the form of direct representation by VLJ staff, placement with a pro bono attorney, or limited-scope assistance so that the individual can better represent him/herself in the matter. VLJ will also conduct regular seminars, workshops, and intake clinics to reach South Ward families and ensure that the community members are well-informed on their legal rights and the services that are available to them.
A Huge Thank You To Our Dedicated Summer Interns
Abdulrehman Ahmed (left) is a rising 2L at Rutgers Law School - Newark, and worked on the Tenancy Program and Divorce Program. M'Ballou Sanogho (left middle) is a rising 2L at Rutgers Law School - Newark, and worked on the Reentry Legal Services (ReLeSe) Program and the Trafficking Victims Legal Assistance Program.  Michael Tecza (right middle) is a rising 2L at Seton Hall University School of Law, and worked on the Bankruptcy Program and the Consumer Law Program. Lauren Puglisi (right) is a rising 2L at Rutgers Law School - Camden, and worked on the Veterans Legal Program and the Children's Representation Program.

VLJ is grateful for the hard work and dedication of our summer interns!  
VLJ's mission is to provide equal access to the justice system for those who otherwise couldn't afford it by Taking Cases and Changing Lives. Thank you to our volunteer attorneys for helping to secure these two recent wins, and many more!
  • Brittany, a veteran, came to the Veterans Legal Wellness Clinic looking for legal help to tackle a daunting medical bill and to get back her previous landlord to return her security deposit. Attorneys from McGuireWoods and Panasonic provided Brittany the proper referrals to get her the help she needed. She then met with a Prudential attorney and a solo practitioner attorney team at the Consumer Law Clinic, who negotiated for the return of her security deposit and confirmed that her medical debt was extinguished. Brittany said, "I knew I was in the right, I just didn't know how to go about taking care of it. Thank you [VLJ] so much, you really helped me. This took a weight off my shoulders." 
  • Charlene was facing impending foreclosure on her home after defaulting on two mortgages. After a volunteer attorney helped Charlene file for bankruptcy, the first mortgage holder released its lien on her property. As a result, she is fixing up the house to sell so she can pay back the remaining debt on the property and restart her life more frugally. Charlene said she finally felt like there was some light at the end of the tunnel.


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