Salesforce Volunteers Provide Pro Bono Legal Support for Veterans
By: Caroline Papas and Pablo Quintanilla
On an overcast morning in November, one week before Veterans’ Day, 15 lawyers and non-lawyers from Salesforce’s Legal and Government Affairs Departments congregated at Superior Court in San Francisco. They had come to participate in Service-4-Service, a one day event created to provide free legal and social services to United States Veterans who met the eligibility criteria of the Veterans Court calendar. The Service-4-Service day was created through the collaboration of a wide range of agencies and organizations including Salesforce, the Community Justice Center, Swords to Plowshares and the law firm of Farella Braun and Martell.
“We are really so excited you’re here today to help our veterans,” exclaimed Mairi McKeever, Managing Attorney from the Justice & Diversity Center, one of the organizers of the event. “They have given so much for our country but now that they’re home many are struggling to get their lives back together.”
After receiving an hour and a half of training, which included sensitivity training and details of VA benefit criteria, the volunteers spread out across a large room adjacent to the courtroom where the veterans were arriving for their Court appearances. They stationed themselves at tables where they received additional training in specific areas of the law, such as landlord tenant, family law, VA benefit eligibility and collection defense. One by one, men and women of all ages were greeted by an intake volunteer who helped them prioritize the services they’d be receiving throughout the day. “As a veteran, participating in Service-4-Service was a special experience for me,” said Gail Bosland, a Corporate and Securities paralegal, “Being new to salesforce, it’s nice to know that I work for a company that puts such a huge focus on giving back.”
Although the Salesforce Legal Department has participated in many Foundation events in the past, this event marked the inaugural event for the newly created Salesforce Pro Bono Legal Services program, led by Shanti Ariker, an attorney in the Commercial Legal Department. “Providing Pro Bono Legal Services has been a goal of the Legal Department for a long time,” said Shanti, “I’m thrilled with the turnout for this event and excited about the future. We’re really just getting started.”
“Having the opportunity to give back to people who have sacrificed so much is truly inspiring,” said Wei Chen, a Salesforce attorney who works on mergers and acquisitions. “It means a lot to me that Salesforce is enabling me to participate in such meaningful community service.”
By the day’s end, the group had served close to 30 U.S. Veterans. Judge Woods, still in full robes, emerged from his chambers to express his gratitude to the volunteers and organizers of Service-4-Service. His enthusiasm and appreciation was palpable as he expressed his hope that this would become an annual event.
Learn more about the pro bono services Salesforce.org provides at salesforcefoundation.org/probono.
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