As in every annual report, my letter reviews the state of Atlanta Legal Aid. This year, I decided to use our recently adopted
strategic business plan as a framework to judge how we did in 2007. By all accounts, we remain the same effective and vibrant
program we have been for over 80 years .
Not surprisingly, our strategic plan calls for high-quality representation of our clients on cases, both small and large. In 2007,
we had over 20,000 such cases and got exceptional outcomes – helping over 400 people in domestic violence situations,
protecting over 1,400 persons against loss of their housing (including 110 homeowners) and obtaining nearly $1,750,000 of
savings for clients on consumer cases.
On a broader level, we were again asked for our expertise on signiﬁcant policy questions, which affect our clients, on issues
ranging from child support guidelines to Medicaid beneﬁts for disabled persons. Just recently, one of our attorneys was one
of only two legal aid lawyers in the country invited to a personal meeting with Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal
Reserve board, to give him her analysis on the Federal Reserve’s new proposed regulations on predatory mortgage lending.
We also responded to the increased needs of our fastest growing counties, Gwinnett, Cobb and Clayton, by adding additional
lawyer staff to each of the ofﬁces serving those counties. Moreover, we responded to the new immigrants of those counties,
particularly Spanish-speaking populations. With funds from the Goizueta Foundation, we have been able to support ﬁve
Spanish-speaking paralegals. We plan to add bilingual lawyers (either hired or trained), with the goal of having a lawyer-
paralegal team in each ofﬁce.
We continued to increase our use of volunteer attorneys. Last year, we had ten private-attorney fellows, including a fellow
from the legal department at United Parcel Service – the ﬁrst legal aid fellow in the country to come from the in-house legal
department of a corporation. These fellows each spent four months doing regular staff attorney work and signiﬁcantly added
to our ability to serve our clients with their most basic legal problems.
In addition, we developed new programs with private lawyers. Two notable projects involved our representation of clients
with cancer. We enlisted Troutman Sanders to provide wills to clients with cancer, some of whom were referred to us by
the American Cancer Society. And Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan has begun to represent clients with cancer in their initial
applications for disability and Medicaid beneﬁts, to help them avoid waiting the years it takes to get an initial denial overturned
at a hearing.
Having said all this, the quality of our program is still best shown by what is hardest to measure - the quality and enthusiasm
of our staff. Just recently the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) sent one of their staff attorneys for an informal visit to our
program. As I usually do with such visitors, I invited her to meet with staff informally as we walked down the halls and in
casual get-togethers. After being here only about four hours one afternoon, she had no hesitancy in telling our executive
committee the next morning that we were a “top notch” program. I am not surprised that she reached that conclusion,
only that she noticed it so quickly.
While it is certainly good that our largest funder thinks well of the program, I realized that I was pleased simply because I
wanted her as an outsider to recognize the quality of our staff and of our work. I wanted her to see what I have seen every
day for many years, and what I saw throughout 2007 – a staff that makes me proud to be the executive director of Atlanta
AIDS Legal Project/Cancer and ALS Legal
Initiative/Breast Cancer Legal Project
Founded in 1989, the AIDS Legal Project continued to provide
essential legal services to persons living with HIV/AIDS. In 2007,
the AIDS Legal Project represented 320 low-income persons
living with HIV/AIDS. The AIDS Legal Project is the only service
organization that addresses exclusively the legal needs of the
Atlanta HIV/AIDS community. It receives support from the City
of Atlanta under a HOPWA (Housing Opportunities for People
With AIDS) grant from HUD, from Fulton County under a Ryan
White CARE (Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency) Act
grant from HRSA, and from the Atlanta AIDS Partnership Fund
through a grant administered by the United Way of Metropolitan
Atlanta and the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.
The Cancer and ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or Lou
Gehrig’s Disease) Legal Initiative and the Breast Cancer Legal
Project served 221clients. The end of 2007 marked the second
anniversary of our Breast Cancer Legal Project, a two-year Equal
Justice Works fellowship originally funded by Ford & Harrison and
staffed by Haley A. Schwartz. The project will continue through
the suppor t of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Greater
Typical cases involve access to income, health care, housing and issues of self-empowerment, including preparation of wills,
advance directives and family issues. The Projects and Initiative also help clients protect their rights as deﬁned under the Americans
with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act, and other statutes. In addition to individual casework, the projects have provided
thousands of people with free information, legal advice, and community education at health fairs, client and volunteer training
sessions, and professional education seminars.
In 2007, AIDS Survival Project recognized the work of director John Warchol through the John Kappers AIDS Community Service
Award. John has managed the project since 1997. It was under his leadership that the project grew to encompass cancer and
Mia lived with breast cancer. But for decades she also lived with emotional and ﬁnancial abuse by her husband. Her husband
used money and access to it to control Mia. Like many victims of domestic violence, she believed it was her fault. The abuse
increased when Mia’s breast cancer diagnosis became terminal. When her husband thought she was too sick to notice, he
transferred their joint assets and bank accounts into his name only. Left with access to only a few hundred dollars and ﬁghting
a terminal illness, Mia had had enough. She called us. We helped Mia ﬁle a separate maintenance action and were able to
have her share of the assets transferred back into her control. We also helped Mia with estate planning. Shortly after we began
representing Mia, she died. However, she died knowing that her assets were protected. Through the formation of a trust, Mia
ensured that her assets would go to support and care for her two young children.
Atlanta Legal Aid lawyers represent many clients in family law cases in all of our counties. Well over a third of the cases handled
by Legal Aid last year were family law matters. We continue to focus our family law work on stopping family violence, providing
stability and ﬁnancial support for children and for elderly or disabled adults.
Some of our family law work is done through special units or projects. For example, the Grandparent/Relative Caregiver Project
helps grandparents and other relatives to adopt children they have been rearing. This unique project teams lawyers from private
ﬁrms with Legal Aid staff attorneys who have developed special expertise in this area of the law. Their work provides increased
stability for the children and often enables the grandparents to obtain additional resources to support the children.
However, the bulk of our family law work continues
to be done by lawyers and paralegals in general law
units in each county. We provide ongoing advice and
representation to clients in a wide range of family law
problems, including family violence, custody, child
support, divorce, legitimation, and visitation. In addition,
Atlanta Legal Aid staff has continued to play a large role
helping the local superior courts in Fulton, Gwinnett
and DeKalb to maintain Family Law Information Centers
to provide forms and advice for the rising numbers of
litigants trying to represent themselves on family law
matters. This past year, Legal Aid’s Southside Ofﬁce
began working with the Clayton County Superior
Court to establish one of these centers.
Marie, a native of the Caribbean, is a young mother with a toddler. Marie’s native language was French, but she had been
studying English since her move to the U.S. She and her husband lived in DeKalb County, far from her home and family. They
separated because of his violent behavior. Marie and the toddler moved into a domestic violence shelter. She obtained a
temporary protective order against him. The order also gave her custody of their child, and required him to pay child support,
but he was not paying it. She tried to ﬁle a contempt motion on her own to enforce the child support provision. Marie asked
court personnel what to do, and they referred her to the Family Law Information Center. At the center, she met with one of the
lawyers from Atlanta Legal Aid, who recommended that she not try to handle the matter herself, referred her to the local Legal
Aid ofﬁce for representation and called ahead to explain Marie’s situation to the staff there.
The Legal Aid lawyer ﬁled the contempt motion to enforce the child support in the TPO case. Marie’s husband fought back by
ﬁling a contempt motion of his own, claiming that Marie was not obeying the visitation provisions in the TPO. When the court
heard the two contempt motions, Marie and her lawyer were able to show the court that Marie had been obeying the visitation
provisions as well as she could without reliable transportation. They also got an income deduction order, so that the child
support could be paid directly from her husband’s wages. Later, the lawyer represented Marie in getting a divorce, including a
permanent order for sole custody, visitation provisions to protect her safety when the child was picked up and dropped off,
child support and alimony with an income deduction order to enforce regular payments.
Georgia Senior Legal Hotline
The Georgia Senior Legal Hotline, a special project of Atlanta Legal Aid
Society, is a cooperative effort among Atlanta Legal Aid Society and the
Georgia Division of Aging Services, Georgia Legal Services Program, the
State Bar Pro Bono Project and the Atlanta Bar Association. The Hotline
accepts calls from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, and provides
seniors over the age of 60 throughout the state with legal advice, brief
ser vices, self-help materials and referral to other sources of help.
Although the program provides information and referral services to all
older Georgians, it targets senior citizens who are economically needy,
frail or at risk. A secondary purpose of the Hotline is to support existing
legal projects serving Georgia’s elderly by referring to them those cases in
which a client needs more in-depth assistance than can be provided by
the Hotline staff. In 2005, the Hotline received additional funding to also
provide legal advice and referrals to grandparents and relative caregivers
of any age who are raising minor children in Georgia.
In 2007, the Hotline handled 2,882 cases and ﬁelded 13,565 calls. Hotline staff consists of one full-time managing attorney, six
part-time attorneys, and volunteer lawyers and law students. It offers quality legal services at no cost to an under-served segment
of the population and provides a sound alternative for meeting the needs of older individuals who ﬁnd it difﬁcult to access
In April 2007, sixty-ﬁve year old Mrs. Walker purchased new dentures for the total cost of $2,400. She ﬁnanced $1,400 through
the dentist’s ofﬁce. The dentist never ﬁtted the dentures properly, severely restricting Mrs. Walker’s ability to eat nourishing
food. After requests to ﬁx the problem were refused, Mrs. Walker stopped making payments. The dental ofﬁce began
collection attempts. Mrs. Walker sought help from the Hotline.
A Hotline attorney wrote a letter demanding refund of the Mrs. Walker’s payments as well as cessation of collection attempts.
When the dentist refused, the Hotline attorney advised Mrs. Walker on ﬁling a contract and malpractice action in small claims
court. Further, the attorney facilitated referral to a geriatric dentist, who provided the requisite, supporting afﬁdavit. Immediately
after being served, counsel for the dentist offered Mrs. Walker $2,000 to settle. She negotiated removal of the adverse
account information from her credit report and received the money in full. Mrs. Walker reports that her health has improved as
she received proper treatment from her new dentist and can now enjoy solid food.
The core of Atlanta Legal Aid Society’s representation comes through the General Law practice. General Law offers
advice and representation in employment cases, landlord-tenant disputes and public beneﬁts. General Law also helps
with a wide variety of consumer and public education issues.
Each ofﬁce has a General Law practice, which covers the most basic needs of our clients, yet can also offer advice and
assistance in complex issues. General Law clients are typically the lowest income individuals who seek help from Atlanta
Legal Aid, and who, therefore, are often the most vulnerable.
The goal of most General Law cases is simply the preservation of the rights of the client under existing law.
Carol is the victim of a stalker. The stalker not only terrorizes Carol by making harassing
phone calls to her and threatening her and her family, but also makes anonymous complaints
to businesses and agencies Carol uses including utility companies, the Department of Family
and Children’s Services and the Atlanta Housing Authority. The stalker has been terrorizing
Carol since August 2004. Carol lost her housing after the stalker made false complaints to
the Atlanta Housing Authority and Georgia Power that Carol was stealing electricity. Carol
came to us for legal assistance and we were able to obtain housing for Carol and her family.
Carol was also able to work with utility companies to restore and protect her accounts.
Recently, the stalker was indicted for her unlawful activities by the Fulton County District
10 Attorney’s ofﬁce.
Grandparent/Relative Caregiver Project
The Grandparent/Relative Caregiver Project began over ten years ago in
response to the growing number of grandparents and other relatives who
are raising children in the place of absent or deceased parents. Relative
caregivers, many of whom are retired and living on ﬁxed incomes, often
struggle to care and provide for the new members of their households. The
Project’s priority is to stabilize the legal relationship between the relative
and the child through an adoption or custody proceeding. For the third
year in a row, the Project received a grant from the Georgia Department
of Human Resources Division of Aging Services to increase the services
provided to clients. With this grant, the Project works to ensure that the
clients are maximizing all of the ﬁnancial and medical resources available
to the children in their care. The Project also drafts last will and testament,
advance directive, and nomination of guardian documents for the caregivers.
The Project’s two attorneys provide direct representation to clients. In
addition, they recruit, train, coordinate, and serve as back up to volunteer
attorneys who provide additional client representation. This year the Project
trained nearly 70 attorneys to provide pro bono adoption services to the
Project’s clients. More than 400 attorneys throughout the metro Atlanta
area have been trained since the inception of the Project. More than half
of the attorneys working on cases are employed at Kilpatrick Stockton,
which has made the Project one of its ﬂagship pro bono projects.
Ms. Moore knew that depression ran in her family – her uncle and brother had both committed suicide. However, she had no
idea that both she and her sister would marry into families with histories of depression. Ms. Moore’s husband committed
suicide. Shortly thereafter, Ms. Moore’s sister was murdered by her own husband, who then took his own life. After the
tragedy, her sister’s three boys came to live with Ms. Moore, and they grieved together. Now, after several years of counseling
for her and her nephews, Ms. Moore is adopting the three children. The Grandparent/Relative Caregiver Project arranged for
the adoption proceedings for the family. Though still recovering from the tragic events of the past, they are comforted to know
they can count on the continued love, support and stability of the new family they have created.
Hispanic Outreach Law Project
The Hispanic Outreach Law Project advises, refers and represents
Spanish-speaking clients in the ﬁve-county metropolitan area that Atlanta
Legal Aid serves. A Spanish Hotline is available for clients to speak directly
with a staff member four half-days a week and to leave messages in their
native language; a Spanish- speaking attorney and paralegal then screen
these clients.The project continues the development of strong collaborative
relationships with agencies that serve the Hispanic community.
The Goizueta Foundation continued to be the main source of funding
for the Hispanic Outreach Law Project during 2007. The project now
boasts two-and-a-half attorneys and ﬁve paralegals. Spanish-speaking
residents in Cobb, South Fulton, Clayton and Gwinnett counties now
have an option to calling the Spanish Hotline – they can call the ofﬁce
in their area directly and speak to a Spanish-speaking attorney or paralegal. Issues of particular interest to the project are
access to the court system for domestic violence victims, access to public beneﬁts for the Latino/Hispanic community,
housing conditions, employment problems, educational services, and consumer issues, including fraud in home purchases
and predatory lending.
Ms. Perez, a Mexican born resident, is the mother of three children. In addition to caring for her home and children, Ms. Perez
works a full-time job. Ms Perez was married for more than twenty years to the father of her children. He was physically abusive
to Ms. Perez throughout the marriage, but Ms. Perez tolerated the abuse in an effort to provide for her children and fulﬁll her
12 marital vows. In addition, Ms. Perez speaks very little English and she was apprehensive of the court system. In 2005, her
husband threw her out of the marital home, which was in his name only. Later he criminally assaulted her. He was arrested and
with assistance she obtained a protective order. He is a successful self-employed businessman, and under the protective
order he was required to pay child support. However, because Mrs. Perez did not know how to prove her husband’s income,
he was ordered to pay only a small amount. Due to the years of domestic violence that Ms. Perez suffered during the
marriage, she was receiving mental health counseling from Caminar Latino, a non-proﬁt Hispanic domestic violence victim
counseling. At Caminar Latino, Mrs. Perez shared her anguish with a counselor, who then referred her to the Project.
Subsequently, a Project attorney helped Ms. Perez obtain a divorce, a substantially higher amount of child support for her
children, and a fair share of the equity in the marital home.
Health Law Partnership
The Health Law Partnership (HeLP) is an interdisciplinary community collaboration among Atlanta Legal Aid, Children’s
Healthcare of Atlanta and Georgia State University College of Law. HeLP’s premise is that by combining the health care
expertise of hospital professionals with the legal expertise of attorneys, we can provide a more holistic set of services to
address the multiple factors affecting children’s health. The social and economic conditions in which children live can seriously
affect their medical health. Attorneys intervene to address issues, such as poor housing conditions, domestic violence and
violation of the legal rights of disabled children, with the goal of improving the physical, social or economic environments in
which many children live. HeLP has on-site legal ofﬁces at Children’s Hospital at Scottish Rite and at Egleston.
In addition to providing direct legal services to the families of low-
income patients at Children’s, HeLP has created an interdisciplinary
educational program about the legal, policy and ethical issues that
affect children’s health.This program includes in-service education
for health care professionals at Children’s as well as extern/clinic
opportunities for students enrolled in professional graduate
programs in law, medicine, nursing, social work and public health.
In January 2007, the HeLP Legal Services Clinic at Georgia State
University College of Law opened. It consists of a classroom
component and the clinic itself, which handles cases referred to
it by the main HeLP ofﬁces at the hospitals. Under the supervision
of attorneys, law students assisted these HeLP clients with a variety
of legal problems. HeLP also had law student externs from Emory
University and a Public Health student extern from Georgia
HeLP receives calls concerning all aspects of family law, education, Medicaid, disability issues and problems related to utilities.
The attorneys have also assisted with problems related to housing, consumer issues, employment, health insurance and public
beneﬁts. Numerous volunteer attorneys assist us by handling some of these cases on a pro bono basis.
Max’s wife died unexpectedly and left him to raise two daughters, one of whom is severely disabled. He was unable to work
because he had no one to care for the disabled child. HeLP’s law clinic, located at Georgia State University College of Law,
intervened to facilitate the application for home health care under the Mental Retardation Waiver Program. A home health care
aide was secured for the child, and Max was able to return to his former employment. The clinic also assisted Max in the
preparation of his will to ensure that in the event of his passing, an appropriate guardian would be appointed. The will also
ensures that the inheritance of any assets would not jeopardize the disabled child’s eligibility for beneﬁts.
Home Defense Program
The Home Defense Program (HDP) provides referrals and legal representation
to low and moderate income homeowners victimized by home equity scams,
including predatory mortgage lending. In 2007, HDP staff saw drastic increases
in the numbers of mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures for homeowners
who were made loans they could never afford. These mortgages are the
basis for the current crisis in the mortgage industry and ﬁnancial markets.
HDP saved clients’ homes by negotiating cancellations of mortgage loans;
restructuring of mortgage loans with substantially lower balances, interest
rates, and monthly payments; and short payoffs of mortgage loans with reverse
mortgages for senior homeowners.
HDP director William J. Brennan and his clients were featured in national
and local media, including the CNN series by Paula Zahn entitled “Debtor
Nation: The Mortgage Mess,” and an article in The Wall Street Journal that
described Bill’s strategy for saving senior homeowners from foreclosure
by paying off predatory mortgages with substantially reduced payoffs using
proceeds from reverse mortgages.
Mrs. Miller, a senior citizen and long-time homeowner, obtained a $106,500 mortgage from a federally regulated subprime
mortgage lender. Unknown to her, the mortgage had a balloon payment due at the end of the 30-year term. The monthly
payments, plus a monthly allowance for property taxes and insurance, equaled more than 70% of her social security
retirement and pension income. The loan paid off a previous mortgage and gave her $2,850 in cash. However, she was
charged $7,500 in closing costs that were ﬁnanced as part of the loan. The inevitable happened: Mrs. Miller defaulted on the
mortgage shortly after the loan closing, and she faced foreclosure and the loss of her home. She contacted Atlanta Legal Aid
for legal assistance. Home Defense Program director Bill Brennan contacted the mortgage lender, raising legal claims and
citing the FDIC Cease and Desist Order that had been issued against the lender because it was “making mortgage loans
without adequately considering the borrower’s ability to repay the mortgage according to its terms.” After considerable
negotiations, the mortgage company agreed to cancel the pending foreclosure sale and to accept a substantially reduced
payoff of the mortgage using the proceeds of a reverse mortgage. The short payoff saved Mrs. Miller $54,375 and will ensure
that she can continue living in her home without fear of foreclosure. In addition, some of the reverse mortgage proceeds will
be used to repair her home. Under the terms of the reverse mortgage, Mrs. Miller has no mortgage payments and her only
obligation is to maintain the home and to pay her property taxes and homeowners insurance premiums.
The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program continued
its mission of protecting the welfare of the elderly, the
physically and developmentally disabled and the mentally
ill who reside in long-term care facilities. The program
monitors more than 900 licensed and unlicensed personal
care homes and 80 nursing homes in a 10-county region.
Ombudsmen check for signs of abuse or neglect of
residents through unannounced site visits and respond
to complaints about these facilities ﬁled by concerned
staff, family and residents. The program employs 11 full-
time staff and 43 volunteers. The Senior Citizens Law
Project attorneys provide legal support and advice.
The unannounced site visits are the foundation of the
ombudsman’s work. The staff made 3,453 such visits in
2007.The ombudsman veriﬁes that these facilities, whose
populations range from one into the hundreds, offer safe,
healthy and abuse-free environments for the residents.
They also form relationships with the residents and
their families, the facility staff and local law enforcement, whose help is often needed to address serious abuse issues. The
ombudsman performed 57 trainings events and 70 community education sessions in 2007 on ways to recognize and report
signs of abuse and neglect within the nursing homes and personal care homes. The program staff handled 1,133 abuse or
neglect complaints from residents, staff and others in the community.
The ombudsman received a call from a county sheriff asking for assistance in locating an appropriate living situation for Mr.
Peters, a homeless elderly man who had been arrested on a vagrancy charge. The ombudsman visited Mr. Peters at the
detention center. He told her he had been living with his sister but she threw him out, so he found shelter in an old abandoned
garage. Mr. Peters wasn’t able to tell the ombudsman if he had a source of income, but he did know his Social Security
number and gave the ombudsman permission to investigate the possibility of his eligibility for beneﬁts. The ombudsman called
one of our volunteers who recently retired from the Social Security Administration and she agreed to investigate the man’s
situation. The volunteer reported back to the staff that it would be necessary for someone to help him to correctly ﬁll out an
application because he was eligible for beneﬁts The ombudsman called the sheriff who said his staff was not authorized to ﬁll
out the forms, so the ombudsman called Adult Protective Services. A worker there agreed to go to the jail and ﬁll out the
application. The ombudsman called a personal care homeowner who agreed to offer Mr. Peters lodging on the promise of
receiving the Social Security check to pay for room and board. Several weeks later, the ombudsman visited Mr. Peters at the
personal care home, where he was happy, safe and well fed.
Mental Health and Disability Rights Project
The Mental Health and Disability Rights Project has been providing
advocacy to persons in state psychiatric facilities in the Metro Atlanta
area for over 20 years and is supported by a staff of committed attorneys,
paralegals, volunteers and interns. While the focus for our unit has
always been enforcing the rights of persons with disabilities under the
Americans with Disabilities Act, that focus expanded following the
Supreme Court case that originated with our project, Olmstead v. L.C.
& E.W. We currently offer services to those persons conﬁned in state
hospitals and nursing homes as well as those who have accessed
community-based services but whose rights have been violated either
through receipt of inadequate care or refusal of necessary services.
This year, we have concentrated our advocacy on appropriate community
services for the homeless mentally ill. Our work under contract with
Georgia’s Protection and Advocacy System, the Georgia Advocacy
Ofﬁce, continued with advocates at hospitals in Atlanta, Savannah,
Milledgeville and Rome. Our attorneys provided consulting services
and training for these advocates in human rights, community placement
and other services.
We had a number of successful cases in 2007. For example, we ﬁled a case on behalf of a client whose access to the
administrative hearing process had been stalled when the state delayed in referring his hearing request to the Ofﬁce of
State Administrative Hearings (OSAH). The client, an institutionalized person with a disability, had been deprived his right
to due process in his attempt to appeal a denial of community-based services. Our ofﬁce was instrumental in getting the
appeal request forwarded to OSAH and now hopes to move forward on the appeal.
Our attorneys were successful in obtaining a favorable judgment for a 31-year-old client who had been denied home-and-
community-based services. The young woman has a history of developmental disorders but was denied services under the
Mental Retardation Waiver Program, which provides services for individuals with mental retardation and developmental
disabilities. This client has spent most of her life in institutional settings or foster care and has signiﬁcant deﬁcits in adaptive
behavior. She requires assistance with many of her activities of daily living. The administrative law judge determined that our
client had shown, through convincing evidence, that she qualiﬁed for the program services in question and reversed the
state’s denial of services. This case is still pending agency review.
Also this year, the Project was successful in negotiating a settlement with the state on behalf of two clients on ventilators
who were at risk of nursing home placement outside the state of Georgia. One young man, a quadriplegic from a gymnastics
accident, is attending college and skydives. The second young man, also a quadriplegic, suffers from muscular dystrophy.
Both young men are seeking to live active lives. Institutional placement would have deprived them of this chance. Staff was
able to convince the state that these clients could be served in the community and within appropriate budgetary guidelines.
Senior Citizens Law Project
The Senior Citizens Law Project (SCLP) provides legal representation to
people over the age of 60. Although the project accepts clients regardless
of their income, it gives highest priority to legal problems affecting low-
income and homebound seniors. These problems often involve income
and healthcare beneﬁts, such as Social Security, Supplemental Security
Income, Medicaid and Medicare. SCLP also represents those who live in
nursing homes and personal care homes, regardless of their age, on issues
involving admission and discharge rights, as well as conditions of care in
those facilities. Cases involving abuse, neglect, or ﬁnancial exploitation of
seniors are also given high priority. With the on-going rise in the cost of
medical care for the elderly, and given the fact that senior citizens are the
fastest-growing population group in the United States, the Senior Citizens
Law Project continues to have a growing caseload. In 2007, SCLP served
SCLP represented a 65-year-old client who was sued by a creditor for over
$30,000 on a note signed by the client’s former son-in-law, allegedly acting
as agent under a power of attorney for the client. This note and a second
note were signed by the son-in-law for the purchase of his home. The senior
did not sign any power of attorney authorizing the former son-in-law to sign
the notes and other loan documents on her behalf. Prior to the lawsuit, the
property was sold at a foreclosure sale pursuant to the ﬁrst note and
security deed. A handwriting expert was retained to analyze the signatures on the power of attorney. The expert concluded
that the client did not sign the power of attorney in question. The creditor then voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit.
In its ﬁfth year, TeamChild Atlanta continued to protect
Atlanta’s at-risk youth from educational inequality and
social injustice. TeamChild has focused on cutting off the
school to prison pipeline, while developing its extensive
network of community support to identify the unmet
needs of Atlanta’s children and then to work towards
fulﬁlling those needs. The project responds to two promi-
nent issues within our client population: unfair school
discipline and inappropriate denial of medical beneﬁts.
In addition to casework, TeamChild attorneys also train
and supervise volunteer attorneys to represent youth
with regards to these debilitating problems. TeamChild
is dedicated to exposing these systemic issues one client
at a time and to ensuring that these children are provided
every opportunity to experience success.
For children like Lisa, TeamChild has been the difference
between success and failure. Lisa suffered from post-
traumatic stress disorder and anxiety that rendered her
unable to attend school. Lisa’s TeamChild attorney
worked with her school to create a program that
accommodates her disability, gradually exposing her to the environments that had been previously off limits for her. Instead of
being pushed to the sideliness due to disability, Lisa is thriving in a traditional high school setting. She is emerging both
emotionally and educationally, working towards a high school diploma and successful independent living.
Collaborative Technology Projects
Atlanta Legal Aid Society and Georgia Legal Services Program have been engaged in a collaborative project to maintain two
statewide websites to provide easy access to legal information for the public and to provide quick access to pro bono
resources for volunteer lawyers across the state.
LegalAid-GA.org is the statewide public access legal web site, providing over 1,000 resources to help Georgians understand
their rights. The site offers:
• information on rights and legal responsibilities in 18 different areas of the law;
• access to court forms and documents;
• referrals to lawyers who will provide free and low-cost legal help throughout the state; and
• lists of the courts in each county.
In 2007, the LegalAid-GA.org web site had almost 950,000 page views from 200,000 unique visitors.
In January 2004, Atlanta Legal Aid Society and Georgia Legal Services Program launched GeorgiaAdvocates.org, a password-
protected web site for legal aid attorneys and private attorney volunteers, which provides the following resources:
• a law library of legal training materials, basic pleadings and court forms for use in pro bono cases and other
• a news forum with poverty law news 19
• a calendar of events with information about continuing education opportunities, fundraisers and other events
• a new volunteer opportunities for attorneys seeking pro bono work
• a group listservs to enhance communication among legal task forces and volunteer attorneys.
Since the initial launch, nearly 1,000 attorneys have joined the site.
The Fellowship Program for Atlanta Associates
The Fellowship Program began in 1995 when Alston & Bird committed an associate to work at Atlanta Legal Aid for four
months. Since then, 17 Atlanta law ﬁrms have sent associates to Atlanta Legal Aid for periods of four to six months. Under
the program, ﬁrms sponsor associates to work at one of Atlanta Legal Aid’s ﬁve ofﬁces. These associates continue to receive
their salary and beneﬁts from their ﬁrm and maintain ofﬁce and library privileges there. Fellows are immersed in a variety
of cases and crises, giving them valuable opportunities for court time and for responsibilities that only come much later at
a large ﬁrm. Sponsoring law ﬁrms have learned that the Fellowship Program is one form of pro bono service that rewards
them, as well as the recipient, in many ways.
In the summer, United Parcel Service (UPS) sent Ryan Swift on a four-month fellowship to our Cobb ofﬁce. Not only was
Ryan our ﬁrst Fellow from a corporate counsel’s ofﬁce, he also is the ﬁrst such Fellow ever to be sent by any corporate
legal department to any legal aid program in the country. Ryan was also Atlanta Legal Aid’s fortieth Fellow.
Summer Joseph Paige Stanley Marcia Bull Stadeker Shayne Clinton
Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP Powell Goldstein LLP Dow Lohnes PLLC Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP
Susan Kalus Lillian Caudle Ryan Swift Amanda Patterson
Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP Jones Day United Parcel Service Hunton & Williams LLP
Travis Foust Caitlan Bannigan
Ford & Harrison LLP Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP
Skadden Arps Fellowship
After graduating from Harvard Law School in June 2007, Sarah Bolling received a two-year
Skadden Arps Fellowship to fund her work at Legal Aid’s Home Defense Project. The focus of
her project is to represent low-income homeowners facing one of the most common predatory
practices, lending without regard to repayment ability. Sarah’s project will also utilize bankruptcy
court litigation as a tool for achieving stable homeownership.
Each year Atlanta Legal Aid Society works closely with many volunteer attorneys who handle cases for low-income clients.
With only one Legal Aid attorney for every 7,000 income-eligible clients in the ﬁve-county service area, these volunteers
provide free legal services to many clients who would otherwise be turned away.
Several of our specialty units have developed their own panels of volunteer lawyers. These are bar members with particular
expertise or interest in the work of the unit. The AIDS Legal Project, the Home Defense Project, the Georgia Senior
Legal Hotline and the Mental Health Law Project each have their own regular volunteers. Atlanta Legal Aid staff recruits
and train these volunteers and provide continuing support for them.
Legal Aid has developed formal ties with the bar in each of the ﬁve counties it serves. Volunteer attorneys extend free
legal services to those in need, whose cases Atlanta Legal Aid cannot handle.
• The Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation (AVLF) is an independent agency that provides services to thousands
of low-income clients in Atlanta and Fulton County. AVLF can place with volunteers certain types of cases that
Atlanta Legal Aid cannot handle because of lack of resources. AVLF arranges for volunteer lawyers to interview
clients at the downtown ofﬁce of Atlanta Legal Aid every Saturday morning. Each volunteer takes several cases,
which have been pre-screened by Atlanta Legal Aid or AVLF staff. Atlanta Legal Aid staff attorneys serve as
mentors and on-going contacts for the volunteers. Approximately 200 attorneys participate in this program.
• The DeKalb Volunteer Lawyers Foundation (DVLF) is also an independent agency, serving low-income clients
whom Atlanta Legal Aid cannot serve in DeKalb County. DVLF accepts referrals of clients with domestic relations
cases, as well as a variety of other civil law problems. The staffs of the two programs work together to provide
• The Cobb County Bar Association asks each of its members to volunteer or to contribute ﬁnancially to support
legal services to the poor. As a consequence, more than 100 Cobb lawyers volunteer to take at least one case
per year from Atlanta Legal Aid’s Cobb ofﬁce. Our Cobb County pro bono coordinator places appropriate cases
with volunteers, monitoring how many cases each volunteer takes and how much time is spent on each one. Our
legal staff screens the cases carefully before referral and then provides on-going support to each volunteer while
the case is in progress.
• Our Clayton County pro bono coordinator works out of the Southside ofﬁce and in a small ofﬁce in Forest Park.
She maintains regular contact with Clayton County judges and bar leaders to protect and support Atlanta Legal
Aid’s work. Our staff screens about 450 applications a year for the pro bono project. Each client is then placed
with a volunteer attorney or a referral to appropriate services.
• The Gwinnett County Bar Association supports volunteer efforts and provided our Gwinnett Pro Bono Coordinator
with ofﬁce space and equipment in the county courthouse until September 2003 when the new, full-service
Gwinnett County ofﬁce opened. Members of the bar now volunteer to accept individual cases screened by a part-
time paralegal. The ofﬁce also enjoys a regular volunteer who does legal research and other work as needed.
PRO BONO Partnership
Kilpatrick Stockton LLP
Grandparent/Relative Caregiver Project
The pro bono partnership of Atlanta Legal Aid with Kilpatrick Stockton handles adoptions for the Grandparent/Relative
Caregiver Project, which is directed by Lindsay Verity. Kilpatrick Stockton volunteers, in addition to volunteers from other
ﬁrms, expand the capacity of Atlanta Legal Aid’s staff and enable many more grandparents and other care-giving relatives to
provide stable, loving homes for children whose parents cannot care for them.
Troutman Sanders LLP and Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP
Breast Cancer Project
In 2007, Legal Aid began a pro bono partnership with Troutman Sanders to provide wills and advance directives for women
with cancer. The project has another partner, the American Cancer Society, whose patient advocates refer clients to Haley
Schwartz, director of the Breast Cancer Project at Legal Aid. She then prepares and refers appropriate clients to lawyers at
the ﬁrm for representation.
Another partnership was also started in 2007 with Sutherland Asbill & Brennan. The ﬁrm helps women with cancer obtain
Social Security, SSI and Medicaid beneﬁts by preparing their initial applications. Without help at these ﬁrst stages, many of
these applicants would be denied eligibility until they have a formal hearing with an administrative law judge, often years after
Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP
Mental Health and Disability Rights Project
Attorneys at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan have a long history of collaborating with Legal Aid in support of disability rights.
In 2006, the ﬁrm began to fund a paralegal position at Legal Aid to investigate the cases of disabled persons in nursing homes
who could live outside of the home, if proper community health care services were provided by the state. That position is
now ﬁlled by Kathryn Wierville, who comes to Legal Aid with signiﬁcant experience with children needing special education
services. The ﬁrm has committed its attorneys to represent cases for these clients using the authority of Legal Aid’s U.S.
Supreme Court victory in Olmstead v. E.W. and L.C. Sutherland’s support for the paralegal position is only its most recent
collaboration with Legal Aid on behalf of clients with disability rights issues. Sutherland co-counseled with Legal Aid in the
Olmstead litigation, and then supported a reverse fellowship for Legal Aid attorney Susan Walker Goico, which led to the
ﬁling of Birdsong v. Perdue, to implement Olmstead in nursing homes.
King & Spalding and Troutman Sanders LLP
Eviction Defense Project
The Eviction Defense Project is a partnership between Atlanta Legal Aid and King & Spalding and Troutman Sanders. Attorneys
from the ﬁrms represent clients in eviction hearings in Fulton County Magistrate Court twice weekly. The project took its
ﬁrst case in July 2001; in 2007 it handled over 40 cases. Many of the tenants whom these ﬁrms represented would otherwise
not have had representation because of Atlanta Legal Aid’s limited resources. Maggie Kinnear, director of Atlanta Legal Aid
Society’s Tenant Hotline, provides extensive preliminary training and continuing back-up assistance to the volunteers.
Sources of Support
Atlanta Legal Aid Society receives its funding from a wide range of sources. These donors illustrate the broad base of
support that we enjoy. Atlanta Legal Aid Society receives support from a wide variety of public sources, as well as from
foundations in the Atlanta area and nationwide:
• The federal Legal Services Corporation (LSC), our largest funding source, provided about 1/3 of last year’s income;
• The Georgia Bar Foundation (IOLTA) provided support through funding of attorney salaries;
• The Atlanta Regional Commission supported services to senior citizens through the Senior Citizens Law Project
and the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. Fulton County also supported work for seniors in Fulton;
• The State of Georgia funded the Georgia Senior Legal Hotline and supported our Grandparent/Relative
• The City of Atlanta, and DeKalb and Fulton counties supported housing work with Community Block Grant funds;
• The Criminal Justice Coordinating Council funds ombudsman work through the Victim of Crimes Act (VOCA);
• Clayton, Cobb and Gwinnett counties supported legal work in those counties while DeKalb and Fulton counties
continued to fund the family law pro se clinics we operate in DeKalb and Fulton county courthouses;
• HOPWA and Ryan White Care Act funded work with individuals living with HIV;
• The United Way provided funds for programs to ensure housing stability; and
• The State of Georgia funded programs to protect victims of domestic violence.
Private foundations supported our work through specialized projects that target vulnerable populations. The Goizueta
Foundation continued its multi-year support of the Hispanic Outreach Law Project. Komen for the Cure – Greater Atlanta
provided generous funding for the Breast Cancer Legal Project. The Lettie Pate Evans Foundation and the Community
Foundation for Greater Atlanta continued to support the Health Law Partnership (HeLP). The Atlanta Foundation provided
funds for TeamChild Atlanta, and the American Bar Association through its Partnership in Law and Aging Program
supported our development of automated public guardianship Hot Docs templates. Trinity Presbyterian Church continued
to support the Grandparent/Relative Caregivers Project, and Primerica/Citi Foundation again supported the housing
work of Gwinnett Legal Aid. The Shirley Bolton Catastrophic Fund of The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta
renewed its support of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.
Foundations also proved generous in helping us expand and refurbish some of our outlying county ofﬁces. The Livingston
Foundation, the Mary Allen Lindsey Branan Foundation, AEC Trust, and the David, Helen and Marian Woodward Fund
provided capital support to expand our DeKalb County ofﬁce facility. The Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia
funded the expansion of the Family Law Center of Gwinnett Legal Aid.
The 2007 Annual Campaign
The Atlanta legal community is known throughout the nation for its support of the Atlanta Legal Aid Society. In fact, Atlanta
ranks third behind the much larger markets of Boston and Los Angeles in terms of dollars raised from the private bar. J.D.
Humphries, III of Stites & Harbison, a long-time campaign team solicitor and former chair of the board, led the 25th Annual
Campaign. His team raised $1.5 million, continuing a twenty-ﬁve year streak of meeting the annual campaign goal. A team of
experienced vice-chairs and solicitors, who called upon over 100 local ﬁrms, ably assisted the pair in this endeavor. These
dedicated volunteers ensured the continuation of what has become Atlanta Legal Aid’s second largest funding source,
comprising nearly 20% of the total annual budget.
J.D. Humphries, III
Stites & Harbison PLLC
Chair, 2007 Annual Campaign
The Campaign Team
Cathy A. Benton, Alston & Bird LLP
Richard H. Deane, Jr., Jones Day
Robert N. Dokson, Ellis Funk P.C.
Edison Holland, Southern Company
Michael T. Nations, Nations,Toman & McKnight
Michael Stephens, Alston & Bird LLP
William C. Thompson, Weissman, Nowack, Curry & Wilco, PC
Amy Levin Weil, U.S. Attorney’s Ofﬁce
Paul Baisier Paula Frederick Allison H. Lynch
Roy E. Barnes Nathaniel Gozansky S. Wade Malone
Tricia Bond Richard W. Hendrix Evan Pontz
Frank O. Brown Robin Hensley Jonathan L. Rue
Paul Cadenhead John C. Herman Dean W. Russell
Vicki Carlton-Drake Philip Holladay, Jr. Natsu Saito
Sherman A. Cohen William R. Jenkins John I. Spangler
J. D. Dalbey Richard P. Kessler, Jr. Lisa Strauss
Jonathan M. Fee Linda A. Klein Frank W.Virgin
William H. Ferguson Weyman Johnson Ryan K. Walsh
Jonathon A. Fligg Jack Williams
Pacesetter Firms and Corporate Legal Departments
(gifts of $400 per attorney)
Alston & Bird LLP King & Spalding
Arnall Golden Gregory LLP Kish & Lietz, P.C.
Ashe, Rafuse & Hill, LLP Long & Holder, LLP
AT&T Southeast Mary A. Miller & Associates
Aussenberg Waggoner LLP Mayer & Beal
Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP
Balch & Bingham LLP Morris, Manning & Martin, LLP
The Barnes Law Group Nations, Toman & McKnight LLP
Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore, LLP Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP
Butler, Wooten & Fryhofer, LLP Northside Hospital
Chilivis, Cochran, Larkins & Bever LLP Parker, Hudson, Rainer & Dobbs LLP
Coca-Cola Company Worldwide Legal Division Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP
DLA Piper Powell Goldstein LLP
Doffermyre Shields Canﬁeld Knowles & Devine, LLP Pursley Lowery Meeks LLP
Dow Lohnes PLLC Rogers & Hardin LLP
Fellows La Briola LLP Scherfﬁus, Ballard, Still & Ayres, LLP
Finch McCranie, LLP Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP
Ford & Harrison LLP Stites & Harbison PLLC
Georgia Power- A Southern Company Strickland Brockington Lewis LLP
Gold Kist, Inc. Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP
Goodman, McGuffey, Lindsey & Johnson, LLP Troutman Sanders LLP
Holland & Knight LLP United Parcel Service Inc. Legal Department
Hunton & Williams LLP Warshauer Poe & Thornton , P.C.
Law Ofﬁce of J. James Johnson Weinberg, Wheeler, Hudgins, Gunn & Dial, LLC
Jenkins & Roberts, LLC Weissman, Nowack, Curry & Wilco, PC
Kidd & Vaughan LLP William H. Ferguson, P.C.
Kilpatrick Stockton LLP
Honor Roll Firms and Corporate Legal Departments
($200 per attorney)
Beltran & Associates Hall Hirsh & McDaniel, LLC
Carlton Fields Huff, Powell & Bailey LLC
Chick-ﬁl-A Jones Day
Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. Mozley, Finlayson & Loggins
Daniel D. Munster & Associates Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P.
Dorough & Dorough, LLC Schreeder, Wheeler & Flint LLP
Ford & Barnhart, LLP Seyfarth Shaw
Gary Flack & Associates, P.C.
Supporter Firms and Corporate Legal Departments
($100 per attorney)
Bowden Law Firm Miller & Martin LLP
Edgar L. Crossett, III, P.C. Scoggins & Goodman, P.C
Franzen and Salzano, PC Smith Moore LLP
Hendrick Phillips Salzman & Flatt, PC Swift, Currie, McGhee & Hiers, LLP
Kitchens Kelley Gaynes, P.C. Wagner, Johnston & Rosenthal
Contributor Firms and Corporate Legal Departments
(Less than $100 per attorney)
Cohen & Caproni Hartman, Simmons, Spielman & Wood, LLP
Cushing, Morris, Armbruster & Montgomery Hawkins & Parnell LLP
Drew Eckl & Farnham, LLP King Grant & Associates, LLC
Duane Morris LLP Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, PC
Duncan & Adair, P.C. Weinstock & Scavo, P.C.
Equifax Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice PLLC
Vendors to the Legal Community
($2,500 or greater)
Fulton County Daily Report
Atlanta Association of Legal Administrators
The Partners Group
Rosing Painting & Wallcovering Contractors
E. Smythe Gambrell Fellows
Roy and Marie Barnes H. Stephen Harris
Phillip A. Bradley and Cathy A. Harper Dorothy Y. Kirkley
William H. Brewster Laura G. Thatcher
Walter E. Jospin
Joseph F. Haas Fellow
Miles J. Alexander Stephanie B. Manis
Joaquin R. Carbonell, III Angie F. Marshall
John A. Chandler Philip J. Marzetti
Paulette & Lawrence Fox John S. Pratt
David H. Gambrell William H. Stanhope
Philip E. Holladay, Jr. Jane F. Thorpe
Pinny Allen John Izard
R. Lawrence Ashe Myron Kramer
Albert E. Bender John L.Latham
Thomas C. Chubb Michael Tabachnick & Maureen Healy
Steve Clay The One Sky Foundation
Philip C. Cook Michael T. Petrik
James L. Ewing W. Scott Petty
Donald I. Hackney Dean W. Russell
H. Douglas Hinson Bernard Taylor
Allen Hirsch William C. Thompson
John Hopkins & Laurie House
John M. Allan Deborah S. Ebel Beverly B. Martin
Joel Arogeti Jonathan M. Fee R. Matthew Martin
Richard M. Asbill David H. Fink Karol V. Mason
Jesse H. Austin Peter A. Fozzard James McAlpin
Shannon Baxter Elliott Goldstein Mara McRae
James F. Bogan Charles L. Gregory Chris D. Molen
William H. Boice Jane M. Haverty George L. Murphy
Wayne N. Bradley Richard R. Hays Michael T. Nations
Arthur D. Brannan Catherine M. Hilton E. Penn Nicholson
Cassaday Brewer Rebecca A. Hoelting John L. North
Kenneth F. Britt Stephen E. Hudson James A. Orr
Daryl R. Buffenstein Randall L. Hughes John G. Parker
Marian Burge W. Stell Huie Steven A. Pepper
Randall J. Cadenhead Weyman T. Johnson Michael J. Perry
Peter C. Canﬁeld John R. Jones W. Ray Persons
Richard R. Cheatham Sandra C. Jones Patsy Y. Porter
Thomas W. Curvin Donald Kennicott Kurt A. Powell
William V. Custer Dorothy Y. Kirkley John S. Pratt
Leslie A. Dent Edmund M. Kneisel Paul Quiros
B. Knox Dobbins J. Allen Maines Michael W. Rafter
Robert N. Dokson S. Wade Malone William M. Ragland
William S. Duffey George T. Manning Ronald Raider
J. Matthew Dwyer Deborah A. Marlowe Richard L. Robbins
Jason Eakes John T. Marshall Robert L. Rothman