Winter  2017 


Thank you for joining VLJ to bring justice to so many New Jersey families in need this past year.  While hundreds of volunteer lawyers and community members have worked with us to assist thousands of low-income people with legal issues, I wanted to mention a few highlights:
  • VLJ partnered with Prudential and Lowenstein Sandler on the Tenancy Clinic.  This monthly clinic is evidence that legal advocacy makes a difference in keeping families facing eviction in their homes.
  • VLJ piloted a new program with BASF and Panasonic advocating for veterans at the East Orange VA hospital.  The Veterans Legal Wellness Clinic helps veterans who have sacrificed so much for our nation to get back on their feet after they struggle with successfully returning home from the military.
  • VLJ was at the forefront of the creation of information sheets related to common legal issues for victims of disasters that are now being distributed nationally to the survivors of the devastating hurricanes and fires we have seen this year.
  • VLJ and Merck are working together to expand VLJ's successful Divorce Program to provide much-needed help to pro se litigants with divorce issues in Union County. 

One of the high points of our year was coming together as a community at our Arts and Eats for Justice Dinner on November 1st.  Be sure to check out the photos below and on our website.  The most moving part of the evening was when we watched the video, "VLJ: Taking Cases and Changing Lives," and heard clients and volunteers talk about how transformative our pro bono work is.  Jason, a veteran client featured in the video, was at the dinner and was met with a standing ovation from the crowd.  Through the advocacy of pro bono volunteers, Jason's driver's license was restored, his employment prospects improved, his self-confidence increased, and his life was changed.  If you have not yet viewed this video, please take a few minutes to watch it at http://www.vljnj.org/vlj-takes-cases-and-changes-lives and see what we can do together as a community.

VLJ lawyers provide legal solutions for our clients, but they give our clients so much more; they provide them with courage, dignity, self-respect, hope, and a voice in the legal system.  Please join us in our fight to make access to justice a reality in our community.  If you haven't already made a donation, please consider making one today - all amounts help us to bring justice to clients in New Jersey. It couldn't be easier; just click on http://www.vljnj.org/donate/ and make a donation now.  If you have already made a donation, thank you so much for your support.  I wish each of you a joyful holiday season and thank you for making access to justice in our community a reality.

Kindest regards,

Cathy Keenan
Spotlight on Service: Laura Kelly
It would be easy to make the assumption that low-income clients with very few assets would have little need for a will.  On the contrary, as Laura Kelly says, "That just makes the assets they do have even more important to them."

Laura is a Partner at McCarter & English.  She has concentrated her practice in trusts and estates matters since 1994, and has volunteered with VLJ for the past several years both by taking pro bono estate cases for full representation and by speaking at VLJ's clinics to train volunteer attorneys.

Laura obtained her undergraduate degree from Wellesley College and her law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law.  She then worked at Palmer & Dodge in Boston doing estate planning and administration work in their private client department.  After eight years, she returned home to New Jersey and began working at McCarter & English.

Laura began volunteering with VLJ after becoming inspired at VLJ's Arts & Eats for Justice dinner in which a client, who had survived domestic violence, spoke about how her volunteer attorneys had given her a lifeline when she had nowhere else to turn.  Laura soon began providing pro bono assistance on estate cases.  

A Success!  VLJ's 2017 Arts & Eats for Justice Dinner 

Thank you to everyone who supported Volunteer Lawyers for Justice's 2017 Arts & Eats for Justice dinner. This event was an enormous success and we were excited to come together as a community to celebrate the transformative power of VLJ's work in the lives of the clients we serve. 

To all those who were not able to attend, please take a few minutes to watch our video "VLJ: Taking Cases and Changes Lives," which showcased how our volunteer attorneys give clients a voice in the legal system and truly change their lives. 

With generous donations, this event raised over $345,000! This support will enable VLJ to provide critical legal assistance to thousands of vulnerable residents of New Jersey. 

It's not too late to show your support! Two generous board members have pledged to match the next $4,000 in donations made through the end of 2017. 

Donate TODAY in order to double  the impact of your support!
Meet VLJ's Newest  Staff:  Rosa Neel and Stella Lyubarsky
VLJ is pleased to welcome not one, but two new staff attorneys this quarter!

Rosa Neel joined VLJ in October.  She oversees the PSEG Veterans Clinic and the Veterans Legal Wellness Clinic.  Prior to joining VLJ, Rosa was a corporate associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP and Covington & Burling LLP in New York City.  At Davis Polk, her pro bono service included advising clients on wills and health care directives.  Rosa went on to act as independent legal counsel for startups on corporate matters.  In undergraduate school, she worked in the Medill Innocence Project, helping to secure the release of a man wrongfully convicted of murder.  During law school, she was an AnBryce Scholar and a notes editor of the Law Review, and she participated in a capital defender clinic and a community organizing clinic working to improve access to health care for Mexican Immigrants in New York City.  Rosa is a native Spanish speaker and a proficient speaker of Portuguese.  She is a member of the New York Bar Association and a member of the Animal Law Committee of the New York City Bar.  She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from Northwestern University and her JD from NYU School of Law.

Stella Lyubarsky joined VLJ in November.  She oversees the Divorce Clinic and Consumer Law Clinic.  Prior to joining VLJ, Stella was a Clinical Staff Attorney at the Rutgers Education and Health Law Clinic, where she represented parents of children with disabilities in their special education and guardianship matters.  Previously, Stella was a MacArthur Law Fellow at the Rutgers Criminal and Youth Justice Clinic, where she represented juvenile delinquents in their post-disposition matters, and before that, she trained and supervised Rutgers law students volunteering in the Domestic Violence Unit at the Essex County Superior Court.  In addition to her JD degree from Rutgers School of Law, Stella also holds a Master's of Social Work Degree from New York University.


Volunteer Lawyers for Justice | (973) 645-1955
 | www.vljnj.org