Mountain View, CA (September 1, 2015) – Fenwick & West is pleased to announce that Equal Justice Works Fellow Leo Flor has completed his two-year fellowship that was co-sponsored by Fenwick and Microsoft. During his fellowship with Seattle’s Northwest Justice Project, Flor developed a legal advocacy program to enable complementary civil representation for criminal justice-involved veterans.
“I am passionate about helping communities realize the potential their veterans embody,” Flor said. “Support from Fenwick and Microsoft put me in a position to act upon my passion for veterans who would otherwise have gone unserved. As a veteran and a legal aid attorney, I can say unequivocally that this work is essential and was only possible through Fenwick and Microsoft’s sponsorship and pro bono contributions.”
Flor received one of Equal Justice Works’ 2013 fellowships which the nonprofit awards to highly competent lawyers who have designed creative legal initiatives to address issues in at-risk communities. With support from sponsors like Fenwick, the fellows receive competitive salaries and other benefits over two years.
Veterans compose 9% of Washington’s total population but up to 13% of those incarcerated in Washington. Another significant portion of veterans become involved with criminal courts in some capacity. These rates of justice-involvement persist despite heavy national and local investment in veterans assistance. Flor worked to better equip Washington’s justice system to handle the special challenges veterans face in the criminal justice system.
“Veterans come away from military service with tremendous potential to contribute to their communities, but those same experiences too often also erect barriers to realizing that potential,” Flor said. Flor collaborated with Veterans Treatment Courts, public defenders, prisons and jails to help the institutions and veterans efficiently and effectively navigate complicated intersections of military, civil, criminal and veterans administrative law.
Through his legal advocacy program, Flor advised more than 120 clients in 13 legal issue areas and obtained more than $120,000 in financial benefits for his low-income clients. Fenwick lawyers and paralegals also contributed time to help him serve his clients, including significant contributions to RepWaVets.org, which Flor created during his fellowship to be Northwest Justice Project’s legal information resource for veterans advocates in Washington.
“His area is something he was really committed to as a result of his personal experience. Leo had a history of having achieved tremendous things in providing legal services for veterans, and we were confident that his project would be successful,” Fenwick managing partner Kate Fritz said.
In one case, Flor secured a Veteran Affairs (VA) pension for a female veteran with PTSD and increased her monthly income by 400 percent. He also helped a veteran fight a VA claim that he had been overpaid $32,600 in benefits, which enabled the client to keep his home.
Along with working directly with clients, Flor trained 20 attorneys and paralegals in veterans' advocacy. Flor was also appointed to the inaugural King County Public Defense Advisory Board to support veteran-competent public defense at a strategic level in Washington’s largest county.
Flor is one of two Equal Justice Works Fellows Fenwick sponsored over the last two years. The firm has regularly supported fellows through the nonprofit for a number of years.
As a firm, Fenwick also holds a significant commitment to pro bono work and ensuring all have access to justice. In the past five years, Fenwick attorneys and staff have logged almost 50,000 pro bono hours valued at close to $20,000,000 in legal fees.
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