Larry donates one to two days each month of his time volunteering in VLJ's highly successful Bankruptcy Program. He reviews requests for assistance by prospective clients. He checks their histories to determine whether they qualify for pro bono services and would benefit from a Chapter 7 filing. He also prepares the files for lawyers volunteering to handle individual matters. He mentors them if necessary. And if all of that is not enough, Larry also takes a number of VLJ's bankruptcy cases himself, providing full representation to those clients.
"Larry's work has been a tremendous help and is allowing us to grow our program," says Jessica Kitson, the VLJ managing attorney who oversees the Bankruptcy Program.
Many senior attorneys in private firms envision transitions into retirement that will allow them to choose work that fits their skills but also reflects their personal interests. Larry is one of them.
Larry's work involves representation of corporate debtors, creditor committees, trustees in Chapter 11s and 7s and his work on business reorganizations and sales of operating assets. He is also a lecturer for CLE and bench bar conferences. For pro bono service, he received an Equal Justice Medal from Legal Services of New Jersey in 2006.
VLJ's Bankruptcy Program, sponsored by Merck, refers bankruptcy clients to attorneys for full representation on their Chapter 7 cases. In order to get those cases ready, VLJ must evaluate each case for eligibility and then work with clients to collect the documents the volunteer attorneys will need. Some cases are more complicated, thus slowing down the process. That's where Larry comes in.
By evaluating prospective clients' finances and needs, recognizing whether they would benefit from a Chapter 7 filing and identifying which documents are needed, Larry assists VLJ in getting the case ready to refer to a volunteer lawyer faster, and with a more complete file. He is freeing up the time of VLJ staff, thereby allowing them to concentrate on other areas of the Bankruptcy Program, and increasing the number of clients that can be assisted.
Larry did his undergraduate work at Duke University and graduated from Cornell University Law School in 1974. All along, he was drawn to public interest law and he spent the early years of his career at Essex County Legal Services, handling a full range of matters for indigent clients.
He left to become the president of a plastics manufacturing company in Newark, which gave him experience and insights helpful for his subsequent legal career. He was a partner in Ravin Greenberg before joining Norris McLaughlin in 2007.
Though his current work for VLJ is coming after decades of practice, Larry says,
"Volunteering for pro bono services isn't something that should wait for the end of a career. That can be difficult, given the demands of private practice," he says.
"But there are so many people who need legal assistance and can't afford it," he concludes.
"The private bar needs to take up the slack. If everybody took a couple of cases a lot of people would have the help they need."