CLC Volunteers Make a Difference in 2016!

2016 has been a fantastic year for the Colorado Lawyers Committee! Due to tremendous support from our volunteers and contributors, the Lawyers Committee has been able to respond to pressing systemic issues and to make an important difference in the lives of children and the underprivileged.  Last year, more than 750 volunteers donated $2.6 million worth of time on 30 projects and enjoyed some significant successes:

  • Protecting the Rights of Individuals with Mental Illness. The Jail Wait Litigation team celebrated a huge victory this year, by obtaining a favorable settlement, in The Center for Legal Advocacy v. Bicha, which will assure that the State provides timely evaluations and treatment for individuals in jail. The settlement requires the State to pay for an independent monitor to assure its compliance.
  • Expanding Health Care. For more than eight years, CLC advocated for federally funded health care for indigent individuals in community corrections. At CLC’s request, Rep. Diana DeGette and Governor Hickenlooper sent letters seeking a change in interpretation of federal law. In 2016, the Federal Government reversed its previous position and individuals in halfway houses can now apply for assistance under Medicaid and subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.
  • Engaging Young Lawyers in Pro Bono Work.  In 2015, the Lawyers Committee created a Young Lawyers Division to “empower passionate young lawyers to make a difference for children and the underserved through education, advocacy, and systemic change.”  Over 110 lawyers and law students have signed up for the YLD. During 2016, the YLD drafted a YLD Charter, held four events, created a YLD video, helped run the Legal Audit Clinics and the Election Call Center, assumed leadership roles on the Hate Crimes Education Task Force, and took over operation of the Denver Legal Night Clinics.
  • Standing Up for Kids in Need. Children’s Task Force volunteers advocated for Colorado Medicaid coverage for important behavioral therapy for children with autism. In addition, CLC partnered with other organizations to present a free training for more than 30 non-immigration lawyers on representing immigrant children who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected.
  • Providing Resources for the Underserved. Hundreds of volunteers provided legal information and referrals at three Legal Clinics in Denver and Greeley; since 2005, more than 22,000 individuals have received free assistance at these clinics. In 2016, YLD Co-Chairs Ellie Lockwood (Snell & Wilmer) and Stephanie Kanan (Lindquist & Vennum LLP) took over leadership of the two Denver Legal Night clinics. In addition, at Project Homeless Connect, more than 80 volunteers provided legal information and advice and represented defendants in Homeless Court to resolve outstanding warrants for municipal violations.
  • Helping the Nonprofits That Help Others. Over 300 nonprofits have been served by volunteers in the Nonprofit Working Group, which matches small nonprofits with pro bono lawyers who provide transactional-type assistance. In 2016, an additional 80 volunteer attorneys worked with 38 small nonprofits at two Legal Audit Clinics to assess the nonprofits’ legal health.
  • Educating Students About Hate Crimes. CLC volunteers presented fictional trials to students on Colorado’s Hate/Bias-Motivated Crimes Statute, helping students understand the law and encouraging them to speak out against intolerance and injustice. This year, the Task Force partnered with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to offer the fictional trials as part of the DOJ outreach to minority communities.
  • Removing Barriers to Obtaining IDs. The Joint ID Task Force, created by the Governor’s office at the request of the Lawyers Committee, continued to address barriers faced by individuals attempting to obtain IDs.   The CLC also successfully supported HB16-1386, which appropriates funding to help low-income Coloradans obtain state issued IDs.
  • Protecting the Right to Vote.  More than 100 CLC volunteers answered calls from 1,105 voters at the Nonpartisan Call Center on Election Day and during early voting. In addition, volunteers from the Election Task Force collaborated with Secretary of State Wayne Williams to provide feedback on rule changes and other issues impacting access to the polls.
  • Exploring the Impact of IDs for Voting. This new task force researched voting ID requirements in other states and related litigation. The group’s goal is to assure the availability of data to establish how many Colorado registered voters don’t have state-issued ID cards (and would be disenfranchised if stricter ID requirements for voting were adopted in Colorado).
  • Advocating for Colorado’s Students. Education Task Force volunteers worked to ensure adequate educational opportunities for Colorado’s students, including advising small self-funded school districts about the state’s demands for money, and began exploring the reasons for the re-segregation of Denver Public Schools.

With your help, we expect to continue and expand these efforts.  We look forward to another successful year in 2017!

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