Mohammed K. Ghods elected President of the Legal Aid Society of Orange County

Mohammed K. Ghods elected President of the Legal Aid Society of Orange County

img_4817_psAttorney Mohammed K. Ghods has been elected as the new President of the Legal Aid Society of Orange County (LASOC). Ghods succeeds R. Thomas Peterson who served as President for 32 years and retired late last year. Ghods has served on LASOC’s board since 2008.

“I am very pleased Mohammed Ghods has been elected President of our Board of Directors,” says LASOC Board Member, Alan Slater. “I’ve been very impressed with his dedication to Legal Aid’s programs and to our client community.”

Ghods is a graduate of the University of San Diego School of Law and his law practice areas include complex litigation involving business, real estate, employment, insurance, securities, transactional, and contracts.

Prior to starting his law practice, Ghods served as a research extern for the California Court of Appeals Fourth Appellate District and the San Diego Superior Court. While in law school, he was a student instructor in contract law and chief justice of the School of Law’s Honor Court. He also served as a law clerk to Michael Beckman, Queen’s Counsel, in London, England.

With experience in serving as a member of the board of directors of both public and private companies, including non-profit organizations, Ghods will bring a wealth of knowledge and leadership experience as President of LASOC’s Board of Directors.

In their own words: “Miracles can indeed happen”

In their own words: “Miracles can indeed happen”

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“In their own words” is a series of firsthand accounts, experiences, and stories from Legal Aid Society attorneys, staff, and volunteers who provide free legal aid services to our community’s most vulnerable populations. This series is aimed at showcasing not only the impact these services have on the clients they serve, but also the profound impact these cases and clients have on them professionally and personally.

Founded in 2008, our Foreclosure Mitigation Unit (FMU) has provided homeowners, particularly those adversely affected by the housing crisis, with free advice and assistance. Staffed by attorneys, paralegals, and housing counselors, FMU provides comprehensive legal assistance, education, outreach, and counseling, to empower and assist families at risk of losing their homes. The project targets households with low and moderate incomes, and has expanded its service areas to Riverside, San Diego, and San Bernardino due to assistance insufficiencies in these counties. For many of these at-risk households, there are few options and little resources to turn to for help.

FMU Certified Housing Counselors work with the clients to create a needs-based action plan which includes providing financial advice and financial assessment of the homeowner’s ability to afford a house. One of our Housing Counselors shares an unlikely outcome in a case that made her believe that miracles can indeed happen:

My client, John,* was facing foreclosure with his loan servicer. John lived in Brea, CA with his young children, and he loved his home. In his eyes it was perfect; it was close to work, it had the best school district, and it was a safe area for his family.

 

John was approximately 12 payments behind when he came to the Legal Aid Society of Orange County (LASOC). He called me on a Thursday, and we scheduled an appointment for him to come in the very next day as the foreclosure sale was scheduled for that Monday. I advised John that all I can do was try my best to contact his loan servicer and request a postponement; however, with such short notice it would be a miracle if this happened.

 

John had been working with his loan servicer to execute a loan modification, but was not successful.  I contacted John’s loan servicer on Friday and they advised me that they continued to ask John for a form because he was not completing it properly. However, the loan servicer never disclosed this to John; they only kept asking for the same paper over and over again with no specifications as to what they needed added or corrected.

 

I completed the form and sent it to the loan servicer, but they said it was too late. With a heavy heart, I began to prepare John’s mindset for potentially losing his home by Monday. He told me his children would be devastated if they had to move. I advised him that come Monday, we would know if the home sold or not and then we would take it from there; together.

 

Monday came and I contacted the loan servicer to find the home sold. When I called John, he was somber on the phone. I felt like I couldn’t give up on him or his family. Not yet. So I decided to call the company who owned his loan to advocate on John’s behalf.

 

I pleaded with the company and told them I felt John’s situation was a wrongful foreclosure as John’s loan servicer did not provide him with details on how to correct his form. I requested they reconsider the sale and grant John a loan modification. After one harrowing week of waiting, I finally got a response: they agreed with me! They decided to put a brief stop to the process, and another week later, they agreed to a rescission of the loan, which put the home back in John’s name.

 

John was granted a Home Affordable Modification Program loan modification, which reduced his payments to approximately $500 a month. I’m happy to share that as of today, John and his family are still living in their home.

 

This case is particularly special to me because it shows that miracles can indeed happen.

 

*Name has been changed to protect identity

Staff Spotlight: Renato Izquieta promoted to Directing Attorney

Staff Spotlight: Renato Izquieta promoted to Directing Attorney

img_2851_psWe are pleased to announce Renato Izquieta has been promoted to Directing Attorney at Legal Aid’s headquarters in Santa Ana. Renato began his legal career at Inland Counties Legal Services in 1997 and joined the Legal Aid Society in 2001. He is currently a Supervising Attorney of Special Projects and oversees the Low Income Tax Payer Clinic and the Orange County Community Court Homeless Outreach program.

Renato has been active on many ABA committees and is currently a liaison to the ABA Commission on Homeless and Poverty. He is also a member of the Orange County Bar Standing Committee Veterans Legal Services and the Orange County Bar Civic Center Task Force. Congratulations Renato!

Duo collects holiday gifts for foster youth in Orange County

Duo collects holiday gifts for foster youth in Orange County

20161219_093035_resized“100, 101, 102…,” murmurs Rebekah Thomas as she rummages through bags and boxes of toy trucks, kitchenware, and warm blankets.

“I’ve got 48 toys over here,” Max Salling calls out from behind his pile of gifts on the other side of the room.

“Wonderful!” Thomas replies, as she adds the number to her tally.

Thomas and Salling are attorneys at the Legal Aid Society of Orange County. This holiday season, they organized a toy drive for the benefit of the Orangewood Foundation, a non-profit that helps foster youth transition into independent adults.

“Most of the time you see kids and you don’t know their story,” says Thomas. “So often, foster youth are overlooked, kind of like out of sight out of mind. We wanted this group of young people to know that we see and hear their needs.”

Thomas and Salling posted flyers throughout the Legal Aid office and invited family members, neighbors, and friends to participate. Though toys for children of all ages were graciously welcomed, a specific plea was made for gifts for the older teens.

“Sometimes the older kids are left out so we wanted to make sure we made a greater effort to include them in our toy drive,” explains Salling. The Orangewood Foundation provides a specific holiday wish list for their older teens – personal items, household items, and electronic equipment – which will help the teens prepare for the transition from the foster care system to adulthood.

“When I was a teacher, I saw a lot of my kids in foster care,” adds Thomas. “And when they age out, many of them became homeless. Knowing that these kids will receive items that will help them on their path to independence warms my heart.”

Having collected 175 toys, Thomas and Salling plan to organize a toy drive every year to help make the holiday season a little brighter for those who have less.

Introducing LASOC’s new Executive Director: Kate Marr

Introducing LASOC’s new Executive Director: Kate Marr
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LASOC’s new Executive Director: Kate Marr

Following the retirement of Robert J. Cohen, Legal Aid’s Executive Director for the past 36 years, Kate Marr will take over the position starting January 9, 2017.

Kate has over 16 years of experience litigating and advising clients at several legal services programs in southern California, including Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, Public Law Center and Inland Counties Services. She also brings to a wealth of management and labor relations experience.

Kate has handled a number of domestic violence, family law, and immigration cases. She serves on the executive board of the Los Angeles County Domestic Violence Council and is a member of the Los Angeles County Bar Association Access to Justice Committee.

Kate is a past recipient of the Los Angeles County Domestic Violence Council’s Domestic Violence Advocacy Award as well as the Soroptomist International of Long Beach’s Women of Distinction Award in the area of human rights.

Kate received her JD from the University of Colorado School of Law and her undergraduate degree from Bryn Mawr College.

(MCLE) January 10, 2017 – Interviewing Family Law Clients

(MCLE) January 10, 2017 – Interviewing Family Law Clients

Legal Aid Society of Orange County presents:

Let’s Talk About…: 

The Client Interview

For a family law case 

The client interview is the first step for the lawyer in a family law matter.  An attorney since 1973, Mr. Wald will share with us his approach and secrets to an effective first time interview with a potential family law client.  He will share his checklist of important points, how an answer to one question really gives rise to a host of additional questions, and how the attorney can effectively create a beneficial attorney-client relationship from the very first meeting. Some vital “red flags” will be covered.    Come listen, ask questions and learn! 

Speaker will be:

David E. Wald, Attorney at law

Hughes and Hughes, LLP

(“Let’s Talk About…” is a series of classes sponsored by the Legal Aid Society of Orange County and led by Commissioner Vogl.  This series covers a variety of court issues and is for MCLE credit for lawyers, paralegals, judges and office staff.)

Date:  January 10, 2017

1 hour MCLE

12:15 PM to 1:15 PM

Location:  2101 North Tustin Avenue, Santa Ana

Bring your lunch and questions!

Cost:   $25

 -or-

Accept a pro bono case with one of LASOC’s clients

-or-

Law students and judicial officers admitted without charge

 

Register by CLICKING HERE while space is still available!

 

Contact:  mcle@legal-aid.com

Legal Aid Society of Orange County

2101 N. Tustin Avenue

Santa Ana, CA  927005

714-571-5204  office        *       714-571-5188 FAX

www.legal-aid.com                   *   www.legalresolutions.com

LASOC welcomes its newest Board Member: Douglas B. Davidson

LASOC welcomes its newest Board Member: Douglas B. Davidson
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Douglas B. Davidson is the newest addition to the Legal Aid Society of Orange County’s (LASOC) Board of Directors.

Since 2015, Doug Davidson has served as a volunteer attorney and mentor in LASOC’s Lawyer Entrepreneur Assistance Program for the civil review and the related civil clinic. The case review presents an opportunity for the LEAP attorneys to ask questions of an experienced lawyer regarding all aspects of their practices.

Doug has also developed courses, trainings, and hands-on seminars which have brought great value to the LEAP program. With over 40 years of legal experience, ranging from business law to real estate law, Doug brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the program’s attorneys.

Doug’s dedication to LASOC’s programs, and empathy and compassion for our client community, is what makes him such a valuable member on our Board of Directors. Welcome Doug!

(MCLE) – Determining Child Support by Computer – 12/06/2016

(MCLE) – Determining Child Support by Computer – 12/06/2016

Legal Aid Society of Orange County presents:

 

Let’s Talk…

About determining child support by computer

 

Here is a chance for the new attorney or paralegal to learn how to figure out the correct child support obligation in a family law matter. This oft given class is once again available to those who want it.

 The workbook provided will reflect both how XSpouse and DissoMaster operate.  If you have any case where child support is in issue, this class is a MUST.

 

Speaker will be Commissioner Richard G. Vogl, Ret.

 

 

(“Let’s Talk About…” is a series of classes sponsored by the Legal Aid Society of Orange County and led by Commissioner Vogl.  This series covers a variety of court issues and is for MCLE credit for lawyers, paralegals, and office staff.)

 

Date: December 6, 2016

1 hour MCLE

12:15 PM to 1:15 PM

Location:  2101 North Tustin Avenue, Santa Ana

Bring your lunch and questions!

 

 

Cost:   $25

 -or-

Accept a pro bono case with one of LASOC’s clients

-or-

Law students and judicial officers admitted without charge

 

Register by CLICKING HERE while space is still available!

 

Contact:  mcle@legal-aid.com

Legal Aid Society of Orange County

2101 N. Tustin Avenue

Santa Ana, CA  927005

714-571-5204  office        *       714-571-5188 FAX

www.legal-aid.com                   *   www.legalresolutions.com

LASOC helps college student win debt case

LASOC helps college student win debt case

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Carla,* a first generation American was being sued by the company who bought her and her brother’s student loan. Though Carla would have qualified for subsidized federal student loans, her family was unfamiliar with funding options for higher education, so she took out private loans to cover both her and her brother’s tuition.

After paying off nearly 40% of her loan in just a few years, two devastating events happened: Carla was laid off from her job and her brother got deported. As a co-signer on her brother’s loan, Carla was left responsible with both of their student loan debts. Unsure of what to do, Carla reached out to the Legal Aid Society of Orange County for help. Here is her story:

 

I cannot be more appreciative to the Legal Aid Society of Orange County. They have truly helped change my life for the better. When I first contacted Legal Aid, I had so much anxiety; I was constantly stressed about my situation and didn’t really see a light at the end of the tunnel.

 

At the time I was being sued by the company that bought my student loan debt. I had tried several times to work out a payment plan with the company to no avail. I was being sued for my student loan and my brother’s student loan which I had co-signed on. I tried to explain to them that my brother had been deported to Colombia and he could no longer make the payments. I stopped making payments after several attempts to have them help me consolidate the two loans and lower the monthly payment. Finally the company served me and I had no clue what to do.

 

That’s when I contacted Legal Aid and met with two attorneys. They both showed so much interest in my case from the very beginning. Throughout the entire process they went above and beyond to assist me with my student loan case. Anytime I needed to come in and speak to them about something I didn’t understand, they both made time. I am so grateful they were there to work on my case because they genuinely seemed to care not just about winning the case but about my wellbeing.

 

Thanks to their hard work, they were able to win my case for me. It is still somewhat of a shock. I at least was hoping to settle; I never imagined that I would actually win the case. I can’t thank them enough. My only wish is that I could have compensated them for their time and effort so the least I could do is let them and Legal Aid know how much they are appreciated and valued.

 

I now feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders and the future seems bright. Thank you for everything. I hope to repay the favor one day, whether it is through donating or spreading the word about Legal Aid’s amazing work.

 

Since 1958, LASOC has provided legal aid services to our communities most vulnerable populations. Please consider supporting our organization through a donation so we may continue to help individuals like Carla.

 

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*Name has been changed to protect identity