Armenian Bar Hangs Shingle on Pro Bono Office in Glendale in A Historic First
The provision of pro bono legal services to worldwide Armenian communities has long been at the center of the Armenian Bar Association’s mission and practice. In an unprecedented and most welcome development, the Armenian Bar is pleased to announce the establishment of a physical office space in the city of Glendale where members of the public may visit to inquire about general legal issues, personal situations, and unique predicaments. The areas of assistance span the spectrum of legal disciplines, from immigration to family law, landlord/tenant to government benefits, employment to personal injury, housing to elder rights, and beyond.
The Armenian Bar’s pro bono office is located in the city’s Adult Recreation Center, located at 201 E. Colorado Street, Glendale, CA 91205, and is managed by Juris Doctor degree recipient, Brigitte Malatjalian. Office hours are conducted on Thursdays from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. A recent Southwestern University School of Law graduate, Ms. Malatjalian stated, “I am excited to be part of this very important initiative whose principal aim is to ensure stability and build confidence in the community. We are confident that these invaluable services will help break the barrier between the hesitation of asking for help and the blessing of receiving supportive assistance.”
Stationing the pro bono office within city facilities is due to the grace and goodwill of the mutually-beneficial relationship enjoyed by the Armenian Bar and the city of Glendale. The Bar’s regular presence at the Adult Recreation Center means that those in need have one more public service within easy reach.
Soon after the Armenian Bar was born nearly 30 years ago, two of the some of the first words out of its mouth were pro bono. In the three decades that have passed, the Armenian Bar’s pro bono programs have consisted of many legal clinics in different cities, wide-ranging public lectures, easy-to-read informational pamphlets, both in Armenian and in English, and television and print media presentations.
In the words of the Pro Bono Committee Co-Chair, Mesrop Khoudagoulian, “The backbone of the Association’s pro bono services is the selflessness and generosity of our members who take our calls for assistance, put down everything else they’re doing, and step up to the plate to help in any way they can, as if the person in need is a paying client or a member of their own family. Our members are the best!”
For further information, please contact (818) 937-3151 or Info@ArmenianBar.org.
The National Armenian Law Students Association teamed up with ArmenBar to conduct Pro Bono Legal Clinic in March of 2018. The clinic will continue activities under the Armenian Bar Association’s Glendale, CA pro bono clinic.
The Armenian Bar Association and the National Armenian Law Students Association are excited to announce the establishment of pro-bono services. Entitled “New Beginnings: A Guide to Clearing Criminal Records,” those who are stigmatized by their old and encumbering criminal records are given a fresh chance to regain control over their lives. With the aim of expanding access to justice, the initial focus has been on expungement and Proposition 47 relief. Although Proposition 47 and expungements are offered county-wide by other groups, this initiative is focused on reaching the Armenian community in a less-intimidating setting with bilingual staff.
Proposition 47 was passed by California voters in 2014. The law not only reclassified certain low-level felonies as a misdemeanor, but it gave qualified candidates the ability to revisit their old criminal convictions and petition for resentencing. Low-level crimes include certain theft and drug possession offenses. Some benefits of reducing felonies to misdemeanors include aiding in the immigration process, pursuing higher education, and the ability to seek meaningful employment.
An expungement, on the other hand, is a more traditional and absolute type of remedy, resulting in the ultimate dismissal of a prior conviction. California’s expungement law permits qualified candidates convicted of a crime to file a petition for dismissal. The process includes re-opening the case, setting aside the plea, and ultimately dismissing the case in the interests of justice. Qualifying candidates cannot currently be on probation, parole, or facing new charges. The benefits align with Proposition 47 – but expungements do more than just reclassify convictions. They clear an applicant’s criminal record and prevent exposure in several types of live scans, with very few exceptions.
Participants engage in a process where the applicants are instructed to obtain their court dockets, then call to make an appointment. On the day of the clinic, applicants are welcomed into a room where they are assisted with the appropriate paperwork, including the preparation of motions and applications, declarations, fee waivers, proof of service, and next-step instructions. Each consultation lasts a little more than one hour.
For additional information, contact Info@ArmenianBar.org.