VOL. 115 | NO. 191 | Thursday, November 8, 2001
MALS campaign kicks off
Memphis Area Legal Services Inc. is kicking off its annual
fund raiser, The Campaign for Equal Justice, this year.
Begun in 1992 with financial support from the private bar
association, the campaign now reaches out to corporations, foundations and the
community. As a comprehensive nonprofit law firm in the Mid-South area, MALS
provides free civil legal assistance to the poor and elderly in Shelby,
Fayette, Tipton and Lauderdale counties.
Conducted as an interim campaign this year due to the recent
hiring of the programs director of development and communications, Diana
Fedinec, the campaign is well underway with the full endorsement of all former
Co-chairs for MALS this year are board president, Andrew C.
Branham of the Lalor law firm, and Harris P. Quinn of Williams &
Our program is at
the point of turning a new corner in the volume of services and outreach it
offers to the community, Branham said.
Not since its early days has the leadership of MALS been so committed
to exploiting the opportunities to serve the client eligible community of
Giving this year, especially when there is so much
turbulence in America, sends a message that the bar (association) is committed
to the full and fair access of our poorer citizens to legal counsel, and that
fairness and due process are not just ideals but a reality to those who cannot
afford a private attorney.
The events of Sept. 11 have generated a remarkable surge of
American spirit in charitable giving to the families of the victims the World
Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. Yet
prior to Sept. 11, the need for MALS services was growing fast. The program received more than 7,000 calls
for help and experienced a 64 percent increase in persons helped from the
The attacks have further increased the demand for services
as layoffs are hitting harder resulting in insufficient unemployment benefits,
mortgage defaults and even domestic abuse.
For more than 30 years, MALS has helped children, families
and individuals solve legal problems that affect their basic needs through
legal advice and counsel, legal representation in the courts and community
education and outreach. MALS handles a
variety of civil cases including consumer and housing issues, family law,
public benefits and income maintenance, health, employment, education and
The organization operates the University of Memphis Legal
Clinic, two senior programs, the Memphis Fair Housing Center and the Domestic
Violence Project. Three new
collaborative programs begun this year were the creation of an Urban-Rural Consumer
Telephone Clinic with West Tennessee Legal Services; the design of a
high-school curriculum in partnership with International Papers legal
department that provides young adults with a knowledge of basic legal
principles; and involvement as the only legal services program around the state
to jointly participate in the University of Tennessee Kinship Care pilot
Contributions to the Campaign for Equal Justice are needed
to sustain the continued growth in programs and client services.
I have participated in the campaign for many years, Quinn
said. Over that time, it has been
extremely gratifying to see how the continuous support of the legal community
has enabled MLAS to expand its programs and services. Of all people, attorneys especially are aware of the need to
provide legal representation to all members of our community. Contributing to the campaign allows each
attorney to be a part of that effort.
Members of the campaign committee participating in the
effort to raise funds are volunteer attorneys Jeff Atchley, Rehim Babaoglu, Jim
Barry, Sarah Flowers-Dent, J. Michael Fletcher, T. Darnell Flowers, Anne Fritz,
Odell Horton, Rhynette Hurd, Samuel Jones, Bruce McMullen, Arthur Quinn, Earle
Schwarz, Lea Hall Speed and Dorothy Sanders Wells, and community
representatives Charlie Morris Sr. and Shelvie Rose.
The campaign is asking attorneys to contribute the
traditional one billable hour, which has been established as $175 this year.
Any level of contribution from the bar association and community-at-large is
To make a donation, or for information, call Fedinec,
523-8822, Ext. 252.