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VOL. 115 | NO. 191 | Thursday, November 8, 2001

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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 campaign chairs.

Co-chairs for MALS this year are board president, Andrew C. Branham of the Lalor law firm, and Harris P. Quinn of Williams & Prochaska.

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 Memphis.

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 previous year.

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 individual rights.

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 project.

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 welcome.

To make a donation, or for information, call Fedinec, 523-8822, Ext. 252.

PROPERTY SALES 56 289 2,908
MORTGAGES 55 226 2,009
BUILDING PERMITS 108 1,002 6,703
BANKRUPTCIES 42 248 1,225