Volunteering is at the heart of what makes LAFLA great: Our pro bono volunteers enable LAFLA to fulfill our mission to the greatest extent possible. From taking on full scope cases in court to helping at clinics throughout the region, attorneys have multiple opportunities to provide legal assistance to those in need. Many of our volunteers spark a passion for helping others through their service, and make volunteering a regular part of their practice. One such volunteer is Nigel Baker, who has staffed the Veterans Justice Center (VJC) clinic at Patriotic Hall nearly every Monday since October 2017.
Nigel has been a solo practitioner for nearly 20 years, working in the field of workers’ compensation—which is where he got his start at the law firm, Miller & Folse. His boss at the firm—whom Nigel also calls his mentor—was a veteran who served in the armed forces, and impressed upon Nigel the importance of community service: “I volunteer because I don’t think enough people are willing to do it. It’s important to give back, especially when I’m fortunate enough to have learned to become a lawyer,” says Nigel.
At the weekly VJC clinic, Nigel helps veterans who are low-income, navigate a variety of legal matters: whether they are trying to obtain needed government benefits, upgrade a less-than-honorable military discharge, or expunge their criminal record. (You can see more examples of the legal services handled by VJC on our website.) According to Nigel, the veterans he helps are trying to make better lives for themselves, and they are always very understanding and respectful: “Many people are dragged into the legal system due to unfortunate circumstances. They need help, and we’re here to serve them.”
Clients who receive help from VJC have included people like Richard, who suffers from severe PTSD symptoms: Our team helped the 29-year-old veteran upgrade his military discharge to honorable, after his commanding officers gave him a less-than-honorable discharge due to his suicide attempts. Richard is now eligible to receive GI Bill benefits and pursue his education, in the hopes of becoming an architect one day.
Nigel believes the importance of programs like VJC and LAFLA cannot be overstated: “More people should be aware of these types of resources. What would happen if we didn’t help some of these clients? They would be left with nothing. It’s important to help your fellow human beings, and have a contribution to society that’s larger than yourself.”
Interested in volunteering with LAFLA? We have both long- and short-term opportunities. Explore our many options.
Need legal help? Our staff helps people in the areas of employment, eviction, domestic violence, benefits, veterans’ issues, and more. Find out how LAFLA’s team can assist you by visiting our website or calling 800-399-4529 between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m., Monday through Friday.