An attorney advises her client on landlord-tenant matters.
(iStock)

All attorneys are invited to log on, especially those who might be interested in volunteering a small amount of time to assist JFS clients.

For 15 years, the Jewish Family Service’s Legal Referral Service has assisted JFS clients with many different legal concerns — including helping clients remain in their homes during the housing crash of 2008-10 and now during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

On Thursday, March 10, from 4:30-6 p.m, the Jewish Bar Association of Michigan (JBAM) will be partnering with JFS to conduct a Zoom seminar on landlord-tenant law, including the possible eviction of income-strapped renters in the era of COVID. Register for the live-stream at jlive.app/events/1763.

All attorneys are invited to log on, especially those who might be interested in volunteering a small amount of time to assist JFS clients. In addition, members of the general public may log on to the seminar to become better informed on landlord-tenant issues.

Speakers will include: 

• Attorney Anita Scott-Meisel of Lakeshore Legal Aid in Mount Clemens, who helps tenants obtain governmental assistance to pay rent; 

Anita Scott-Meisel
Anita Scott-Meisel

• Southfield business law and real estate attorney Ira Auslander, who will give the perspective of landlords; and 

Ira Auslander
Ira Auslander

• Judge Marla Parker of the 47th District Court in Farmington Hills, who will address issues from the court’s point of view. 

Judge Marla Parker
Judge Marla Parker

Since 2007, JFS’ very successful Legal Referral Service has recruited volunteer attorneys to provide pro bono (free or low-cost) legal assistance to needy JFS clients.

JBAM and JFS have been working toward a partnership for several years. 

“A number of JBAM members have already worked within our program and have been extraordinarily helpful,” said JFS’ Legal Referral Services chair Mark Jacobs. “We’re very excited to work with JBAM, and we think that this collaboration is a natural fit for both organizations.”

Kelly Goldberg, coordinator of JFS’ Legal Referral Service, said, “we have three goals with this partnership with JBAM. We seek to increase our ranks of volunteers, heighten the awareness of Jewish Family Service’s mission, and elevate people’s awareness of JBAM in the larger legal community. It’s a really nice collaboration, and I’m grateful to JBAM President Ellie Mosko and her leadership team.”

Mosko said, “We are very excited about this upcoming landlord-tenant event that will launch our partnership with JFS’ Legal Referral Service. It will serve to recruit and train more pro bono attorneys to support such an important mission. We hope that this is the first in a series of collaborations and trainings.”   

JFS’ Success

JFS’ Legal Referral Service was co-founded in 2007 by board member Mark Jacobs, a Farmington Hills attorney who continues to serve as chair, and the late Norm Keane, JFS’ CEO at the time. Jacobs reports the program has aided more than 1,300 JFS clients since then, saving clients millions of dollars in legal fees.

In addition to landlord-tenant law, JFS provides legal aid in domestic abuse cases, bankruptcy, probate, Social Security Disability, elder law and immigration. 

The program is open to JFS clients who come within income levels set by the State Bar of Michigan. Coordinator Goldberg also notes that sometimes clients who are victims of domestic abuse may not have access to household income.

In the JFS program, lawyers commit to handling one matter per year, which could be simply a phone call or filing a court appearance. JFS can also provide its clients with wraparound social services including counseling, housing referrals, and assistance with utilities and food. Serving on the Legal Referral Service committee along with Jacobs are Co-Chair Mara Moss, Mark Picklo and Michelle Freeman.

JBAM’S Efforts

JBAM’s mission is to promote and unify Jewish and other like-minded legal professionals by providing social, educational and charitable activities. It supports pro bono opportunities and offers a mentorship program for its members, pairing new and seasoned attorneys.

JBAM education chair Nargiz Nesimova, a Southfield attorney, said, “We’re hoping to attract both new attorneys and established attorneys to assist in landlord-tenant cases. The seminar will show them what to expect and also facilitate attorneys to do pro bono work.”  

For several years, JBAM has been offering seminars on various aspects of law. 

JBAM mentorship chair Eric Berlin, a Bloomfield Hills attorney, said, “Our mentorship program will allow people to connect mentors with mentees by practice area, by firm size and by years of experience, so we can assign appropriate mentors and mentees.”

Attorneys who wish to volunteer for the JFS Legal Referral Service can contact coordinator Kelly Goldberg at (248) 592-1907 or kgoldberg@jfsdetroit.org. JBAM members who are interested in becoming mentors or mentees can contact JBAM President Ellie Mosko at (248) 629-0495 or ellie@moskolawpc.com. Attorneys interested in joining JBAM can visit jewishbar.org. 

“We’ve got hundreds of lawyers and law firms that participate in the JFS program,” said Jacobs. “We often boast that we have assembled the largest virtual Jewish law firm in Michigan.” 

To register to view the landlord-tenant law seminar at 4:30-6 p.m. Thursday, March 10, go to jlive.app/events/1763.

Previous articleFor Many Jews Watching Ukraine’s War, Volodymyr Zelensky is a ‘Modern Maccabee’
Next articleFaces & Places: Sledding and Snowflakes