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Attorney Jim Burgess Named President of Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles’ Board of Directors

The Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, the leading frontline law firm for low-income people in Los Angeles, announces the appointment of Jim Burgess of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP to serve as president of the Board of Directors. The two-year appointment took effect July 1.

“Jim brings a breadth of talent and dedication to this position. He has an unwavering commitment to pro bono work,” said Executive Director Silvia R. Argueta. “Jim possesses a unique background, with diverse experiences, and that expertise and knowledge will enhance our Board of Directors and the Foundation, as a whole.”

Founded in 1929, the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) has evolved to become a leading advocate for Los Angeles County’s most vulnerable residents. With five neighborhood offices, three Domestic Violence Clinics and four Self-Help Legal Access Centers, LAFLA provided assistance and information to more than 100,000 individuals in 2017.

A partner at Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton’s Century City office, Burgess has extensive trial and arbitration experience in a wide variety of cases, including cases under the Americans with Disabilities Act and California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, intellectual property disputes that include trade secret, copyright, trademark and idea submission cases, insurance bad faith, breach of warranty, product defect, leasing and real estate disputes.

He has been recognized as a Southern California ‘Super Lawyer’ for the past six years. Burgess has been widely honored for his commitment to pro bono and community work, including receiving the State Bar of California’s Wiley W. Manual Certificate for Pro Bono Legal Services, and community service awards from St. James Inn and Catholic Charities.

“Legal Aid has been fortunate to have had a great group of past presidents who made sure it has the resources needed to provide legal services to the most vulnerable in Los Angeles,” said Burgess. “I hope to contribute to that tradition and to broaden support for Legal Aid. I don’t know anyone who believes that a person should forego their legal rights just because they cannot afford a lawyer. With Silvia Argueta’s leadership and LAFLA’s team of top lawyers, low-income individuals in Los Angeles are able to vindicate their legal rights every day. I am honored to support this mission as president of LAFLA.”

LAFLA offers eligible, low-income residents a range of services. LAFLA eliminates employment barriers; challenges unlawful evictions; supports spouses who have suffered from domestic abuse; assists torture victims and individuals forced into human trafficking; strengthens ties between medical and legal services for low-income families; helps veterans with their healthcare and/or disability benefits and advocates on behalf of residents who need help obtaining government benefits.

LAFLA also welcomes two new board members and officers. The new board members are: Amber S. Finch of Reed Smith LLP and Kevin J. Minnick of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. The new board officers, in addition to Burgess, include: Michael Maddigan of Hogan Lovells US LLP, incoming Vice President; Sean Eskovitz Wilkinson of Walsh + Eskovitz LLP, newly named Secretary; Amy Lerner Hill of City National Bank, incoming Treasurer; Wesley Walker of LA CAN, newly named Client Chair, and Cleo Ray of WISE, incoming Client Vice Chair. All appointments took effect July 1.

“We are delighted to welcome all new members to our Board of Directors,” Argueta said. “We have very strong leadership in place and we couldn’t be more pleased with these appointments. Each of these individuals’ deep professional backgrounds and passionate commitment to our mission will bring insightful perspectives to our Board.”

LAFLA would like to thank outgoing Board of Directors President Debra L. Fischer for her leadership and continued support. Under Fischer’s leadership, LAFLA opened the Ron Olson Justice Center, a new four-story building at 1550 W. 8th Street. The facility serves as the nonprofit’s headquarters. A partner at Morgan Lewis, Fischer has practiced employment law and unfair competition/trade secret litigation for 25 years, successfully trying cases in both California state and federal courts, as well as in arbitration.

“Our Foundation continued its substantial growth under Debra’s leadership,” Argueta said. “She’s been an asset to LAFLA, given her professional knowledge and her pro bono work. It was our pleasure to follow her leadership and learn from her example.”

LAFLA is one of the oldest and largest nonprofit, public interest law firms in the country. LAFLA is committed to expanding access to justice, strengthening communities, fighting discrimination and effecting systemic change through representation, advocacy and community education.

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