(Left to right: Back Row- Brandt Lorio, SLLS Board Member, Mark Surprenant, SLLS Board President, Beth Mizell, Louisiana State Senator, District 12, Mike Cooper, Mayor of Covington, Kathryn Mitchell, SLLS Volunteer, and Patricia Bonneau, Northshore Community Partnership Panel; Front Row- 22nd JDC Judge Dawn Amacker, Div. L, Paula Charles, SLLS Managing Attorney, Laura Tuggle, SLLS Executive Director, District 3 Judge Allison Penzato, Louisiana Court of Appeals, Div. C, Roxanne Newman, SLLS Deputy Director, and Elena Perez, SLLS Managing Attorney of Pro Bono Program.)

The Southeast Louisiana Legal Services’ (SLLS) Northshore Pro Bono Project celebrated its 10th anniversary on Friday, Feb. 22, 2019 in Covington, La. The event commemorated the untiring efforts of dedicated pro bono attorneys who have volunteered their time and skills to fight for the rights of  more than 3,506 low-income and vulnerable people on the Northshore over the last 10 years.

“The impact these bright men and women make on the community is truly remarkable,” said Roxanne Newman, SLLS Deputy Director. “It’s because of them [pro bono attorneys] that our clients can successfully move forward and rebuild their lives. Day in and day out, they’re out there fighting for a victim of domestic violence, helping a disabled veteran obtain benefits owed to them, protecting an elderly man from a wrongful eviction, and so much more.”

Guests checking in for the 10th anniversary event

In honor of these achievements, the celebration sought to inspire other attorneys and volunteers in the Northshore to stand up for equal justice. “Don’t let any body convince you that the little thing that you’re doing can’t have a big impact,” said 22nd Judicial District Attorney Warren Montgomery, one of the event’s speakers. “One ripple can cause a wave, which can lead to a big change in our community.”

The celebration included four hours of free training to help attorneys refine the skills they need to help low-income people who can’t otherwise afford an attorney. There was also a luncheon presentation to honor the accomplishments of SLLS’ pro bono attorneys and the supporters who make the Northshore Pro Bono Project possible. Special guests speakers included the Honorable Beth Mizell, Louisiana State Senator (District 12), the Honorable Mike Cooper, Mayor of the City of Covington, and six judges from the 22nd Judicial District Court (JDC).

The Honorable Beth Mizell speaking at the luncheon presentation

Over the last decade, SLLS’ Northshore Pro Bono Project has continued to expand its services to at-risk families living on the Northshore. It now coordinates six ongoing special legal clinics and partnerships. Its volunteer attorneys have donated $150,000 worth of legal services to those in need each year.

Thank you to the Legal Services Corporation, the Louisiana Bar Foundation, and to our many volunteers and supporters, including CJ’s Florist, Outback Steakhouse, Abita Roasting Company, Another Broken Egg Cafe, and Essence Linens, who helped make the celebration such a success.

(Left to Right: Mike Cooper, Mayor of Covington, and Mark Surprenant, SLLS Board President)

As SLLS looks toward the future, we are excited to continue expanding our services and fighting for justice for all on the Northshore. Check out the “Get Involved” pages on our website to learn more about how you can help make a difference in your community. If you would like to view more photos from our February event, then check out our Facebook page.

SLLS honors veterans and their families by working every day to ensure they receive equal access to civil justice. More than 21 million veterans across the U.S. experience serious challenges, including unemployment, health problems, and homelessness. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD),“on a single night in January 2017, about 40,020 veterans were experiencing homelessness.” We are dedicated to helping ensure those who bravely served our country have access to job opportunities, health services, and income when returning to civilian life. Click on the button below to view the full newsletter.

November Newsletter

During Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we join advocates around the country to bring attention to the harm done by domestic violence and to remember the many people who lost their lives at the hands of those who they loved and trusted most. We are dedicated to stopping the cycle of violence by defending the rights of domestic violence survivors and supporting them in their time of need.  Thankfully, our attorneys work relentlessly every day to ensure that the survivors have the resources they need to safely escape their abusers. Click on the button below to view the full newsletter.

October Newsletter

Volunteer Law Clerk Dedicated Over 650 hours in Pro Bono Service at SLLS

Yazan Rantisi, a third year law student at Southern University Law Center, completed over 650 pro bono hours at Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS). He joined the team in early April hoping to gain more hands on experience in the legal field, while serving the most vulnerable populations in Baton Rouge.

“Reuniting families and protecting survivors of domestic violence from their attackers have been the most rewarding part about the experience,” said Rantisi. “Every time we help create a positive outcome for the client, I’m constantly reminded about all of the great work that SLLS provides for the communities in its service area.”  

Rantisi volunteers in the Family Law Unit in the Baton Rouge office. His primary duties include assisting with client intake, drafting pleadings, and preparing for court hearings. Additionally, Rantisi frequently joins the staff at community outreach events like “Ask-a-Lawyer,” an event that gives advice on a wide range of legal issues to low-income families and vulnerable populations throughout our service area.

“All of my experiences at SLLS have been extremely valuable for my future,” said Rantisi. “I highly encourage other law students to volunteer there. The experiences that I’ve gained from it have significantly prepared me for my career as an attorney.”

With graduation around the corner, Rantisi feels eager to start the next chapter of his life. We can’t thank him enough for all of his tremendous efforts.