The Advocate
Spring, 2019
Our Donors are Heroes to low income individuals, vulnerable Veterans, and elderly clients statewide!
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    Your Support to LSA helps:

  • Keep families safe from domestic violence
  • Prevent foreclosures & illegal evictions
  • Advocate for Veterans and the Elderly 
  • Protect the wages of working poor families
  • Empower citizens through community outreach & education
  • Restore Dignity to low income individuals and families 

Be a Hero! 
Change a life!
Become a Guardian of Justice today!  

Your donation means so much to the nearly 1 Million people living below the poverty line. Over 90% of LSA's budget is spent directly on services to our clients!
Attorney Spotlight: Lisa Overton, Staff Attorney (CDBG), Birmingham Office
Why have you chosen to advocate on behalf of poor people? 
I have dedicated the bulk of my career to public interest work. Looking back at my path to becoming a lawyer, it is no surprise that I find myself advocating for the poor. Up until my last year of college, I had intentions of graduating and pursuing a graduate degree in social work. I was a Sociology major in undergrad, and in the fall of my last year I took a course entitled “Law and Social Change,” which would change the path for my future. 

I had always been interested in social issues and this particular course, taught by an African American male judge who had both a Master’s Degree in Social Work and a Juris Doctor, opened my eyes to the interrelated nature of the law and our society. Historically, there have been occasions where the law has preceded societal change (think Brown vs. Board of Education), and other times social change has spurred changes in the law (think marriage equality). Counsel from this college professor and exposure to this course empowered me to consider a career in law.

In law school, I found myself drawn to topical courses such as “Seminar in Domestic Violence and the Law,” “Education and the Law,” “Family Law,” and “Children and the Law.” After a brief period with a small law firm, I started a solo practice where I focused heavily on indigent defense by representing respondents in child welfare, child support, adult protective services, and involuntary commitment proceedings. I also represented victims of domestic violence in hearings for protective orders and related issues through referrals from Legal Aid of North Carolina.

When I left solo practice, I went to work for the local government. Although my work with the county focused primarily on local government issues, I remained connected as supervisor for the Staff Attorneys assigned to the social services courts. I remained in local government work for many years until relocating to the Birmingham area in 2017. It was here that I was able to join the Birmingham Office as a Staff Attorney and rekindle my passion for directly working with the underserved.

What is your most memorable experience
(at LSA)? 
My most memorable experience at LSA has been representing special clients whose lives would not have been the same without our services. In particular, I was pleased to represent a senior gentleman who suffered from schizophrenia in a collection matter. He contacted our office initially believing that he needed to make better payment arrangements on his credit card statement because the monthly amount due had increased. Further investigation revealed that he was a victim of identity theft and credit card fraud, and that nearly $8,000.00 had been charged to his account within a few weeks’ time. To make matters worse, this client had filed his own answer acknowledging responsibility for the account. I was pleased to have successfully set aside the judgment against him and for the plaintiff to voluntarily dismiss the entire action.

Aside from those special clients whose circumstances I have been able to influence, my most memorable experiences are those spent through CDBG outreach events. Through outreach events, our Birmingham CDBG program has been able to partner with other area agencies in educating the community on the importance of estate planning. Community meetings and Will clinics provide the opportunity to spend face to face time with individuals and answer their questions.

What advice can you give attorneys thinking about joining LSA?
I would advise other attorneys thinking about joining LSA that working for this organization provides a wealth of experience. There truly is no ceiling on the exposure and opportunities that are available. From transactional work to litigation, to federal practice and appellate work, it’s all within reach at LSA. Also, being part of a statewide law firm affords LSA attorneys with resources and support that may not be as readily available at other small private firms.

A second bit of advice that I would offer is to be mindful of the compassion fatigue that can come with this area of work. The American Bar Association has described compassion fatigue as “the cumulative physical, emotional and psychological effect of exposure to traumatic stories or events when working in a helping capacity, combined with the strain and stress of everyday life.” Our clients live daily in dire circumstances, some of which are unimaginable to many of us. We also have a constant influx of cases and tough problems that we are tasked to solve for our clients. For this reason, it is important to be aware of your individual capacity and outlets to release and recharge from some of the emotionally heavy legal work that we perform at LSA.

What do you like to do in your spare time?  
Spare time? What’s that? Seriously though, I try to spend as much time as I can with my husband and my three sons. We spend time as a family supporting endeavors that better our community and support our sons’ spiritual, cultural, and academic growth. I also enjoy crafting and customizing bling apparel as a side hobby.


* Lisa Overton joined LSA in October 2017. With a background in Social Services, Overton specializes in civil and municipal law. Overton received a bachelor's in Sociology from Butler University in Indianapolis and a J.D. from Indiana University, Bloomington. Overton has also practiced law in Greenville, NC and Huntsville, AL.
Congratulations to LSA Executive Director Guy E. Lescault, who served as moderator during the State of the South Conference sponsored by Georgia State University College of Law's Center for Access to Justice on Feb. 8.
Brad Robertson, a partner at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP in Birmingham, has been named co-chair of LSC's newly created Emerging Leaders Council.

According to a blog on AL.com, the mission of the Council is to "raise public awareness of the current crisis in legal aid and the importance of access to justice."

In a recently published statement with the online publication, Robertson stated, "There is a national crisis that stems from a severe lack of funding to support civil legal aid," he said. "Legal aid programs assist low income Americans in dealing with issues ranging from evictions to child custody to veterans' benefits to protection orders against abusers ..."
According to LSC, the Emerging Leaders Council includes some of the country's rising leaders across diverse industries.


Excerpt taken from Bradley Arant Boult Cummings blog/2-7-19/blog.al.com; photo courtesy: JDSupra
Congratulations to
Mr. Robertson!
LSC Visits LSA
Members of the Legal Services Corporation's (LSC) Office of Compliance and Enforcement (OCE) met with LSA's Executive team, offices, Call Center and Volunteer Lawyers Program for a Technical Assistance Visit from Feb. 25-March 1, 2019.
LSA kicks off 15th Anniversary Celebration with Huntsville Office Open House
LSA Board of Directors and Staff unveiled LSA's new Huntsville location at 610 Airport Road Suite 200 on Feb. 21. The celebration also recognized longtime board members Norman Bradley, Esq., and Willie Hereford with a reception and training center named in their honor. Other 15th Anniversary celebrations will take place throughout the year in Birmingham, Montgomery and Mobile.
LSA Board of Directors President Alexander M. Smith, Esq., (right) presents Board Member Norman Bradley, Esq. with an award for his dedicated years of service.
Board President Alexander M. Smith presents Board member Willie Hereford with an award for his dedicated years of service.
From L-R: LSA Executive Director Guy Lescault, longtime Huntsville Staff Attorney Meteasa Henderson, LSA Director of Operations Debra Hansen, Huntsville Staff Attorney Laurie McFalls, and Huntsville Lead Attorney Pamela Jackson enjoy the festivities.
The family of longtime Board of Directors member
Willie Hereford enjoy the festivities.
LSA Executive Director Guy Lescault and Board of Directors Vice President Tazewell Shepard III, Esq.
Huntsville Lead Attorney Pamela Jackson, Huntsville Staff Attorney Tyler Brannon, and LSA Alumna Chiriga Vinson.
LSA Economic Empowerment Village & Wellness Expo
March 2, 2019
The Selma Office partnered with various community organizations across the Black Belt to hold its first Economic Empowerment & Wellness Expo on March 2nd during the annual Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee. The event offered such legal services as: help with collections and garnishments, court fines and fees, bankruptcies, and voting rights restoration. Other services offered included: home ownership, financial services, no contract cellular services, and wellness activities such as Zumba and Pound and diabetes screening. Participating vendors were: SPLC, Alabama Appleseed, Rural Health Medical Program Inc., Hope Credit Union, Cricket Wireless, Michael Johnson-MJ93/90 Foundation, and Selma AIR among others.
LSA Selma Office Managing Attorney Felecia Pettway and Deputy Director, Jaffe Pickett
Representatives from
Hope Credit Union participate in the Empowerment Village on March 2nd.
Representatives from
Rural Health Medical Program Inc., participate in the Village and Health & Wellness Expo.
From L-R: Jason Barnes of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Dana Sweeney with Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, and Jonathan Barry-Blocker of SPLC.
LSA Montgomery Lead Attorney Andriette Rowell and Felecia Pettway
Donneil Ford with Cricket Wireless
An independent Fitness instructor teaches a Pound workout session during the Health & Wellness Expo on March 2 in Selma, AL.
A fitness instructor teaches a Zumba workout routine on March 2nd.
 Client Success Stories:
Selma Office
Congratulations to Felecia Pettway, Managing Attorney in the Selma Office, for negotiating a settlement without litigation!

Our client lost her home due to a fire three days after she'd paid rent. Our client's landlord accepted the rent after the fire and refused to return rent paid as well as the deposit. Our Advocates were able to get our client's last month's rent as well as deposit returned to her.

Thank you to our Selma Office Advocates for helping to get a deposit returned to our client as well as preserve housing subsidy!
Mobile Office
Congratulations to Tim Kingston, Staff Attorney (tax) in the Mobile Office, who helped to protect a client's income!

The IRS denied our client EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit) and child tax credit. Our Advocate showed the IRS that our client was fully entitled to these benefits and the IRS agreed 100 percent. The case was first filed in Tax Court but it was able to be resolved without having to go through the full tax court process. Our client was issued a full refund in the amount of $4,600!

Thank you to our Mobile Office Advocates for helping to protect our client's income!

Central Office
Congratulations to Farah Majid, REIP Coordinating Attorney, who helped to preserve housing for an elderly client!

Our client, a 91-year-old homeowner, came to LSA after she had been sued by Redstone Federal Credit Union, a local bank in Huntsville. She had cosigned on two loans for her son-in-law and grandson, for a tow truck and a vehicle. Redstone then sued our client for more than $32,000 for both loans, and obtained a judgment. The company then sought to execute on the judgment by taking our client's home, and actually sold the home for $1,000.

Our Advocate argued that the home was worth at least $112,000 and that the sale price was unconscionably low, and also that our client had not been properly served. Our client testified at a hearing and the bank presented a witness, who routinely buys homes at these sales who claimed the price paid was reasonable. After the hearing, the judge ruled in LSA's favor and set aside the execution sale. LSA was able to save this elderly woman’s home from an unfair and wrongful execution sale, which will keep a roof over her head for the rest of her life. Our client was especially grateful for LSA's services after we won the case.

Thank you to our Central Office Advocate for helping an elderly client to keep her home!

What does your donation to LSA do?
Your donation helps poor, elderly and disabled victims of abuse, consumer fraud, housing discrimination and other illegal actions that our clients face everyday. Over 90% of your contribution goes directly to client services.  

Who are our Donors?
Our donors are Heroes for the low income people we serve statewide. They are students, lawyers, law firms, faith based groups, businesses and corporations, who support our mission of improving lives across Alabama. They become  Guardians of Justice because they believe  poor and vulnerable people should have access to quality, free civil legal aid statewide!


For more information on becoming a Guardian of Justice please visit: https://www.legalservicesalabama.org or contact LSA's Recource Development Coordinator at 334-264-1895

"I appreciate the help I received regarding [my] food stamp issues. The information given was clarified and handled professionally. I was very pleased to receive this assistance."
-LSA Client, Dothan Regional Office
  LSA provides free, civil legal services to Veterans in Central Alabama! 
Support LSA's Veteran Services partnership with the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System &
VA Gulf Coast
LSA continues providing legal services to Veterans by offering on site services through a partnership with the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System. LSA is dedicated to providing holistic solutions to the root issues plaguing low-income and homeless Veterans. Perry Myer, Montgomery office Staff Attorney and Army veteran, and a Call Center intake specialist, will be available on Wednesdays at two VA locations to provide legal assistance to Veterans: 

* Montgomery VA Medical Center on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month from
9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

* Tuskegee VA on the first, third, and fifth Wednesday of each month from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

* South Alabama Veterans Clinic , the first Thursday of each month from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
104 St. Francis St., Suite 700, Mobile, AL 36602