Trial Lawyer Charities have wonderful stories to tell
LATLC and OCTLC focus on education, children, survivors of abuse, persons with disabilities, and homelessness
It started as an idea. In 2004 Bruce Traney saw how plaintiffs’ lawyers only made the news if there was something negative the media wanted to report about them. But Traney knew his world of plaintiffs’ lawyers and trial lawyers was different than what was shown in the media. Trial lawyers cared. A lot. Not just a phrase, but a reality. “This is what trial lawyers do,” said Traney.
He believed that if plaintiffs’ attorneys joined together, we could make a real difference in Los Angeles. He called it a “guerilla organization for good deeds.”
The model was simple: Partner with local nonprofit organizations and meet their needs through financial grants or volunteer service projects or both. It was no accident that the logo for LATLC always included a hand and a heart: “Give your hands to serve and your heart to love.” – Mother Teresa.
From 35 “founding members” in 2006, LATLC now includes more than 3,000 donors and volunteers. Over $5.5 million has been distributed in grants and direct giving to 121 local nonprofit organizations. Since 2015, when LATLC began tracking their activities, volunteers have provided more than 9,000 hours in service to the community. Projects range from cooking lunch at Downtown Women’s Center to hosting Valentine’s Day Bingo with seniors at the Los Angeles LGBT Center to celebrating Buddy Ball with special needs athletes. Those are just the activities so far in 2023.
LATLC provides college scholarships, grants to youth sports and holds signature events like the annual holiday giving in south LA called “Comfort & Joy” and a “Day of Dignity” for the unhoused in Hollywood.
Orange County Trial Lawyers
In 2019, working with LATLC, a group of attorneys led by Michelle West created Orange County Trial Lawyers’ Charities, mirroring this model of volunteer service and financial support to local organizations. In only a few years, OCTLC has supported almost 100 local nonprofits through service projects and financial grants. OCTLC has built houses with Habitat for Humanity, sorted food at the Second Harvest Food Bank, planted trees at Shadetree on UCI’s campus and helped teachers at Beyond Blindness with their teaching tools. In its first couple of years, OCTLC has given away hundreds of thousands of dollars to local charities and has donated over 100 volunteer hours.
In January, OCTLC conducted a “30 days of giving” campaign, selecting 30 charities to donate $1,000 or more to. In February, OCTLC is partnering with law students at Western State College of Law to conduct a volunteer project making “welcome bags” for women in housing shelters. On March 10th, OCTLC is proud to be doing another build with Habitat for Humanity at a location in Santa Ana. You can partner with OCTLC for the build; visit the website at octlc.org.
For the past two years, LATLC and OCTLC have co-hosted the “Great Tryke Giveaway,” providing adaptive tricycles to children with physical and intellectual disabilities. Save the date: The next one is April 29th.
Together, LATLC and OCTLC have provided more than 100 of these special tricycles to those who could not afford the price tag of almost $1,000 each. Does this make a difference? Absolutely.
After one of the first Great Tryke Giveaway events, LATLC got a letter from one of the families, along with a photo of Evangeline, the special needs teen who received her first “tryke”:
We just wanted to let you know how very grateful we are to you for your generous donation to So Cal Trykers which allowed our daughter, Evangeline, to receive her first adaptive bicycle! How wonderful it is to see her finally be able to cycle along with her sisters after all these years of missing out! What a joy it is for us, her parents, to get to see the smile on her face when she’s behind the wheel! Thank you again, for the gifts of joy and happiness that you have helped to provide, is truly priceless!
Our work depends on your support. By signing up on our websites (LATLC.org and OCTLC.org) as a volunteer or donor you can be part of this “guerilla army” that makes a difference in our communities.
Karina Lallande is a partner at Lallande Law, PLC, where her practice focuses on litigating personal injury and wrongful-death cases throughout California. She is a member of the CAALA Board of Governors.
Michelle M. West
Michelle M. West is an attorney with Robinson Calcagnie Robinson Shapiro Davis, Inc. in Newport Beach, CA where she focuses on catastrophic personal injury and wrongful death cases. She graduated Pepperdine University School of Law in 2003 and has practiced for over 10 years almost exclusively on behalf of injured individuals and consumers. Ms. West is a member of CAOC, CAALA, WLALA, Orange County Bar Association, and the OCBA Administration of Justice Committee. Ms. West was selected as a 2010 and 2011 SuperLawyer Rising Star in Southern California and in 2014 became a Fellow of the ABOTA National Trial College.
by the author.
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