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See how your colleagues are changing lives through pro bono service in Nevada!

Betsy

Betsy*, who was living in Kentucky, contacted Nevada Legal Services’ Reno office with a request for pro bono assistance pertaining to a custody order that originated in Elko County. Betsy was a victim of domestic violence and one year prior to contacting Nevada Legal Services, she awakened in the hospital with a fractured skull in addition to multiple additional injuries. Upon discharge from the hospital, she went to find her son but was told that the child’s father (who was also the person who inflicted abuse upon her) had taken their son out of the area and no one knew where they were. Fearing further injury and unable to locate her son, she moved in with her family who lived in Kentucky.
Nevada Legal Services investigated the matter, located the father and immediately placed the case with Elko attorney, Julie Cavanaugh-Bill. Coincidentally, it was discovered that the father had returned to Elko, had recently been arrested and was in custody. At the time of the arrest, Betsy’s son had been in his father’s custody and was later released into the custody of family members. Upon learning the whereabouts of Betsy’s son, Attorney Cavanaugh-Bill was able to obtain an emergency enforcement order that granted sole custody to Betsy.
The Elko Sheriff accompanied Betsy to the location where she was to be reunited with her son, only to learn that the child had been removed by other family members who resided on tribal land. Attorney Cavanaugh-Bill contacted the tribal police who took Betsy to a second location where her son was reportedly being held. Upon arrival at the second location, Betsy and the tribal police were told that her son was not there. As the tribal officers were questioning the adult at this home, Betsy saw her son peering out the front window of the home and immediately informed the officers that her son was there. After another denial to release the little boy, a promise of a warrant, and return to the home with more officers later, Betsy’s son was sent out of the house and into his mother’s arms. Betsy and her son were reunited after 15 months of separation and they both returned to Kentucky to live with her family. The father was convicted on multiple charges.
*The client’s name has been changed to protect his/her identity.

About the Attorney, Julie Cavanaugh-Bill

Julie Cavanaugh-Bill is the Managing Member of the Cavanaugh-Bill Law Offices in Elko and brings to the law practice in Northern Nevada over seventeen years of Native American and indigenous rights experience. Her experience ranges from intergovernmental relations to active involvement in tribal, federal and international litigation. She has worked on two separate U.S. Supreme Court cases involving Native American jurisdictional and resource rights issues and has written several articles and guidebooks on indigenous rights, corporate engagement and human rights lawyering. Ms. Cavanaugh-Bill now handles not only tribal law cases, but a plethora of child welfare and social justice casework out of her office in Elko, Nevada.

The Attorney’s Angle

1. What, if anything, about the case stayed with you?
That I was a part of reuniting this mother with her little boy and the emergency nature of the case. Here is this terribly abused mother, who woke up in the hospital after being beaten so badly and all she knew is that her son is with the man that did this to her and she has no idea where they are.  I will never forget seeing the face of the little boy when they brought him into my office and I got to tell him that his mommy had been looking for him for so long.

2. What tip(s) can you offer attorneys interested in or considering taking a pro bono case?
If you want to make your heart feel good just take one pro bono case. I also feel that, as lawyers, we possess a certain set of skills and expertise and that we have a professional obligation to provide those services to our community members when asked.

 

Erica

Erica* attended a Nevada Legal Services bankruptcy education class. Immediately following the class, she approached pro bono coordinator, Renee Kelly and explained the many difficulties she had experienced with her finances and ultimately requested that she be placed with a pro bono attorney. Erica was very upset with the prospect of having to file bankruptcy, felt guilty for “not being able to fulfill her obligations” and was overwhelmed by the amount of debt she owed, which included a significant judgment relative to a car accident in which she had been involved. Sean Patterson, a bankruptcy attorney in Reno accepted Erica’s case. After a consultation with Mr. Patterson, Erica contacted Nevada Legal Services to express her appreciation and her relief. Further, upon obtaining her discharge, Erica again contacted Nevada Legal Services to tell us how wonderful Mr. Patterson was and how much better she felt with respect to her financial stability.
*The client’s name has been changed to protect her identity.

About the Attorney

Sean P. Patterson, of the Law Office of Sean Patterson is a bankruptcy attorney in Reno, Nevada. He is a 1991 graduate (with distinction) of University of Nevada and a 1995 graduate of McGeorge School of Law. He was admitted to the Nevada Bar in 1995 and is licensed to practice before the Nevada U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit and the Federal District Court.

The Attorney’s Angle

1.  What, if anything, about the case stayed with you?
Erica was a very nice lady. She was very helpful. I know she felt genuine guilt about her situation. However, I tried to dissuade her guilt by explaining that this was necessary under her circumstances. In addition, I tried to explain that she was making a business decision. The creditors were not going to lose sleep trying to harass her under the circumstances.

2.  What tip(s) can you offer attorneys interested in or considering taking a pro bono case?
I think it is a worthwhile program. We have been blessed to be lawyers. It is good to give back to your community. I have been lucky to help a lot of people out of their debts through this program.

 

Dylan

Dylan*, a recent immigrant with limited English skills, signed a single page document to purchase his first home in Las Vegas (the “Property”). The contract called for monthly payments of $1,000.00 to be made to “Seller.” Dylan was in possession of no other documents relating to the sale. After a few months, Dylan became suspicious of the legitimacy of the transaction and confronted Seller; thereafter, Seller disappeared.
Dylan came to Legal Aid of Southern Nevada (“LACSN”) for assistance. Attorney Eunice Beattie volunteered to take the case through LACSN’s Pro Bono Project and discovered that the transaction was a complete sham. Dylan was scared because he did not know what to do, and did not have any savings to relocate.

Dylan had been unsuccessful in previous attempts to seek relief from a third party who was tangentially involved in the transaction. Ultimately, Attorney Beattie worked out a resolution with the third party wherein Dylan was able to: relocate his family to a similar-sized legitimate rental property, have his security deposit and moving expenses taken care of, and receive a fresh start.
*The client’s name has been changed.

About the Attorney
Ms. Eunice M. Beattie is an associate in the Government Investigations & Business Crimes Department in Gordon Silver’s Las Vegas office. She primarily practices in areas of complex criminal litigation, as well as corporate and civil litigation. Among other distinctions and affiliations, Ms. Beattie was named as a Mountain States Super Lawyers® Rising Star, 2013 and 2014 and as Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada’s Pro Bono Volunteer of the Month in October, 2013.

The Attorney’s Angle

What, if anything, stayed with you about this particular case?
Prior to coming to LACSN, Dylan felt lost. His overwhelming gratitude in receiving legal assistance made me feel proud of the pro bono legal services our community provides.

What tip(s) can you offer attorneys interested in or considering taking a pro bono case?
Many pro bono cases are quickly resolved once an attorney steps in. A pro bono client is often the “underdog” who has not been taken seriously despite the legitimacy of his claims. In situations such as these, when the adverse party realizes that professional legal services are now being provided, the adverse party is more willing to reach resolution to avoid drawn out legal proceedings, ultimately to the satisfaction of the pro bono client.