2016 ANNUAL REPORT
Levitt & Quinn Family Law Center
2016: A Review From the Executive Director and the President of the Board
To our friends, champions and partners: As you read through our 2016 Annual Report, we hope that you, our friends and stakeholders, see yourselves reflected in its pages. Your ideas, labors, and dollars all contributed to our ability to carry out our mission in support of the communities we serve. You helped us to make quality and responsive services affordable so that our clients don’t need to choose between paying for basic necessities and critical legal help. We set two goals for 2016 - expand our community connections and brainstorm new approaches to service delivery to further help families to effectively and equitably navigate the family court system. To meet those goals, we focused on two key areas: cultivating our next generation of supporting leaders and growing our community impact. We are happy to share that we exceeded those goals.
CULTIVATING OUR NEXT GENERATION OF SUPPORTING LEADERS Sustaining Levitt & Quinn’s continued growth required us to put renewed energy into recruiting new board members with diverse backgrounds. This effort resulted in our board electing four new colleagues to join them in 2017. Bringing their experience in marketing, media, and governance, they’ve already rolled up their sleeves and gotten to work. Our board also transformed the existing advisory group into a new Leadership Council. With two dynamic professionals to serve as co-chairs, our new Leadership Council members will employ their skills, interests, and resources to actively promote Levitt & Quinn. GROWING OUR COMMUNITY IMPACT Ongoing assessment of our service-delivery model is critical to helping families achieve fundamental fairness in an everchanging world. A review of our demographic data revealed that many folks were traveling long distances to reach us in Central Los Angeles. Despite our limited resources, we chose to commit to meaningfully increase access to our services. We began by both deepening existing relationships as well as establishing new ones with pro bono partners and community-based organizations whose mission and programs align with ours. We focused on providing services where our clients live and work, and supporting them with the information they need to make decisions leading to longterm stability. LOOKING AHEAD Our 2016 goals illuminated our path for 2017. We will redesign how we capture the impact of our work on our client’s lives. We will refresh our technology infrastructure. And, we will re-imagine how we tell the world who we are and what we do. We can’t wait to tell you about it!
Ana M. Storey Executive Director
Dinah C. Ruch President of the Board of Directors
Levitt & Quinn provided critical legal services to over 1,700 families last year. Read on to learn more about our work.
We gave our clients more than $2 million dollars worth of legal services at little to no cost to them.
We developed and strengthened partnerships with community organizations, associations, and private firms throughout Southern California.
We had cases in courthouses throughout Southern California. Stanley Mosk 417 Edelman Children's Court 114 Pasadena 22 Central Civil West 18 Norwalk 17 Van Nuys 16 Chatsworth 10 Compton 10 Torrance 10 Gov. George Deukmejian 8 Santa Monica 7 Pomona 6 Other Â 5
2016 Achievements Community Outreach
Free Legal Clinic for Veterans
"Unite for Families" Clinic
We collaborate with the Los Angeles County Bar Association to offer veterans free, one-on-one consultations in partnership with the Veterans Legal Services Project at Bob Hope Patriotic Hall.
Joining forces with Jenesse Center, the oldest domestic violence prevention program in South Los Angeles, we created a quarterly, appointment-based clinic in South L.A. that we staff with law students and attorney volunteers who work under our supervision.
Project Fatherhood Legal Clinic
With pro bono partner Winestone Mediation, we offer a free monthly mediation workshop at our offices. Parents facing mandatory mediation learn to maximize the opportunities presented by mediation and to stay in control of parenting decisions.
We work with the child welfare not-for profit Families Uniting Families in Long Beach to provide quarterly legal information sessions to participants of their Project Fatherhood group, a father-focused program that improves parenting and strengthens families.
Levitt & Quinn remains committed to existing community engagement efforts, including those with the Los Angeles Superior Court and LACBA's Family Law Executive Committee. We participate in the Daily Settlement Officer Program, helping people in the Compton courthouse who do not have attorneys to settle their disputes fairly, while preserving scarce judicial resources; as well as L.A. Law Library's â€œLawyers in the Library,â€? where our attorneys volunteer monthly to give free consultations to people with family law problems.
2016 Achievements Committment to Growth
New Board Members
35th Annual Stand for Justice Gala
In 2016, we made a concentrated effort to build a foundation for organizational growth by revamping our board recruitment and onboarding process. This effort was rewarded with the addition of four new board members from outside the family law community. Bringing their experience in marketing, media, and governance, they came ready to hit the ground running when their terms began this January.
Our 2016 Stand for Justice Gala on September 17th was the best attended and highest grossing gala in our history! Attendees came from all over California to celebrate the achievements of the night’s honorees, Judge Mark Juhas and Mark Minyard. Many guests stayed after the main event to join new arrivals at the first-ever Gala After Party, enjoying “Cocktails for a Cause” on the moonlit patio.
In addition to our efforts to strengthen our board, we transformed our existing Advisory Council into our new Leadership Council. With the guidance of their dynamic co-chairs, this group of existing and new volunteers will work together to support our mission by employing their skills, interests and resources. Serving as Levitt & Quinn’s ambassadors, they will educate the public about our work and community impact.
On November 19th, legal professionals from throughout the Southern California area gathered at the Pepperdine University campus to learn from nationally recognized computer forensic experts and educators. This first ever hands-on and practical approach to electronically stored information education gave participants a window into what lies beneath the surface of their CPUs as they delved into the ESI in cell phones, tablets, and laptops.
ADOPTION PROJ Since 2011, Toyota Financial Services has been an integral supporter of our Adoption Project.
IN 2016: 226 Families We gave more than 200 families legal counsel in adoption matters.
45 Adoptions Through the Adoption Project, we finalized 45 adoptions.
95 Appearances Our attorneys made 95 court apperances on behalf of families.
George's Story George is only 21 years old, yet for the last 3 years he has had an awesome responsibility. Three years ago, Georgeâ€™s mother died, leaving in his care the two young children his mother adopted after a family member lost custody of them. At the tender age of 18, George went into court to become his adopted siblingsâ€™ legal guardian and to keep the family together. Now 12 and 11, George wants to ensure long-term stability for his siblings by becoming their legal parent. George struggles to raise the children on just his income, and the foster care funds the children used to receive were cutoff when their mother died. With support from Toyota, Levitt & Quinn is helping George to file for adoption, which not only will give the children the legal parent they deserve, but will hopefully result in reinstating foster care funds that will provide the financial stability this young family needs.
JECT ABOUT THE PROJECT Levitt & Quinn Family Law Center’s Adoption Project improves futures for children and families, using legal expertise and practical experience to create permanent, loving homes.
Since its inception, the Adoption Project has helped to finalize more than 2,000 adoptions. During this time, the United States Congress recognized Levitt & Quinn as an Angel in Adoption, awards given to organizations that demonstrate a strong commitment to improving the lives of children in need.
Our Adoption Attorneys Lucia started our current Adoption Project as an Equal Justice Works Legal Fellow in 2002. In addition to her duties as Director of Legal Services, Lucia is Levitt & Quinn's adoption litigation attorney and is often court-appointed to represent minor children in Dependency Court private adoption matters.
Lucia Reyes Director of Legal Services
Lucia currently serves on the California State Bar’s Family Law Executive Committee as Legislative Liaison for Adoption Law. She is also a member of the Academy of California Adoption Lawyers. In 2016, Lucia was honored with the Legal Aid Association of California's Family Law Award for Direct Representation in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the family law community and exemplary work helping California’s families.
Sharon began her long relationship with Levitt & Quinn as a volunteer attorney in 1994. Since then, she has served in a variety of roles at the organization, including as executive director. Along with her current duties as Director of Operations, Sharon continues to help clients with independent and stepparent adoptions, assists in staff oversight, and participates in the daily settlement officer program at the Compton courthouse. Since joining Levitt & Quinn, Sharon has completed over 1,000 adoptions. Sharon is a member of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, and serves as a member of its Access to Justice Committee.
Sharon Hulse Director of Operations
SHRIVER PROJEC In 2009, California passed the historic Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel Act sponsored by then Assemblymember Mike Feuer. The Shriver Act recognized the critical importance of counsel in civil legal matters, and began as a two-year pilot project to provide low-income individuals in high stakes cases with a lawyer. The Los Angeles Times called the pilot an “unprecedented civil court experiment.” Seven pilot projects throughout the state were selected by the Judicial Council of California through a competitive RFP process, and Levitt & Quinn’s partnership with the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice makes up the Shriver Los Angeles custody project. This approach helps to ensure fair hearings in our family law courts, stabilizing families and giving kids the opportunity to be safe, supported, and ready to succeed.
Under this project, Levitt & Quinn partners with the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice and the LA County Superior Court to provide free family law services to low income litigants in high stakes, high conflict custody disputes.
"How ironic that you can be arrested for stealing...a box of Twinkies...and you're entitled to counsel. But if your house is on the line, or your child is on the line, or you're being abused in a domestic relationship,
you don't have the same right to counsel.” –Mike Feuer City Attorney of Los Angeles
Nearly 80% of Los Angeles County family court cases have at least one side that is unrepresented.
A report to the California legislature found that more than 90% of the 450,000 people who use California’s court based self-help programs each year earn less than $2,000 each month. Contrast that with the average hourly rate for family law representation in Los Angeles, which falls somewhere between $250 and $450 per hour. Even at the lowest rate, an average family in California would find that fee beyond their means.
Nationally, only 1 legal aid attorney is available to serve every 6,415 people living at or below 125 % of poverty.*
CLIENT STORY Ceney was scared. Your Shedescription had recently goes escaped with her young daughter from here. It's best to keep ita physically abusive between relationship. 2-3 lines. She managed to get help to fill out papers for a restraining order, but she was afraid to go to court alone. She didn’t speak English and feared being near her ex-boyfriend in the courtroom. L&Q Shriver Project Attorney Anna Lucas helped Ceney prepare for her court hearing. Anna gathered evidence to help make Ceney’s case, including certified copies of the boyfriend’s prior convictions, police reports, and photos of Ceney’s injuries. Anna went with Ceney to court, and got Ceney the protection she and her daughter needed. Now with a five year order of protection and professionally supervised visits that allow for the child to visit with her father and stay safe, Ceney can move on with her life without fear.
*"Documenting the Justice Gap In America: The Current Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Low-Income Americans" Legal Services Corporation. Septembr, 2009. Accessed March 04, 2017. http://www.americanbar.org/content /dam/aba/migrated/marketresearch/PublicDocuments/JusticeGaInAmerica2009.authcheckdam.pdf
The Kids Fund
The Kids Fund assists the financially neediest families who come to Levitt & Quinn Family Law Center by providing free family law services in cases related to the safety and well-being of minor children. Early intervention in support and custody cases involving children means earlier resolution and a quicker return to family stability. The more quickly and amicably the issues are resolved, the faster these children can have a chance at a normal, stable life in which they are free to be children.
Tim struggled to see his little girl Johanna. For the first two years of her young life, Johanna's mother repeatedly denied Tim access to Johanna, even going so far as to deny his paternity altogether. Tim stayed involved as best he could, never giving up his role as her dad, or the hope that they would one day have a normal father and daughter relationship. A paternity test eventually proved that Johanna was his daughter. Finally, Tim began to see Johanna on a regular basis, getting to know her love of swimming and dance. But after a year, Johanna's mother once again abruptly stopped the visits.
Leveling the playing ďŹ eld, case by case.
Not knowing what to do next or how to navigate the complex world of family law court, Tim found Levitt & Quinn. A Levitt & Quinn attorney represented Tim, and arguing for Johanna's best interests, Tim succeeded in getting two full days of visitation each week. The court also granted both parents equal decision making authority about Johanna, finally giving Tim the opportunity to be the active and loving parent he always wanted to be. Now with a real presence in his daughter's life, Tim plans to enroll her in ballet classes to celebrate Johanna's love of dance.
With the support of the The average Kids Fund parent and child have an income below $1,500 per month.
BILL AND DINAH RUCH FAMILY FOUNDATION our Kids Fund staff attorney was able to make over 50 court appearances in 2016.
Since law school, Staff Attorney Rebecca Miller has had a passion for public interest law. Â Becky began her involvement with Levitt & Quinn as a law clerk in 2013. Upon law school graduation, she returned to the Center as an Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow in the Veterans Legal Corps, providing direct legal services to low-income veterans with family law issues. After successfully completing her two-year fellowship in 2015, Ms. Miller began her current assignment to the Kids Fund Project. Becky continues to serve veterans, and for the last year has served as the Volunteer Coordinator. Becky Miller, Kids Fund Staff Attorney
What does sliding scale mean for families in California?
Over 1 in 2 of California’s children will be impacted by the decisions of a family law court during their childhood...
SLIDING SCALE PRO “Middle class litigants shouldn‘t have to mortgage their and their children‘s future just to get divorced or resolve a custody problem.
Everyone who needs legal assistance should be able to find it at whatever place on the continuum is appropriate.” --2010 Elkins Family Law Task Force Report
We keep our fees affordable by scaling our limited scope services to our client's income and number of dependents.
ABOUT SLIDING SCALE In 2015, the California Civil Justice Taskforce Report identified key innovations needed to address the legal crisis in California, and attention to modest means families was among them. But an affordable fee structure for modest means families is only part of the solution. Help from attorneys with the requisite legal skill and experience is vital. It is the combination of the affordable fee structure with lawyers who are experienced in a variety of family law matters that makes Levitt & Quinn Â a unique and a valuable community resource.
SLIDING SCALE: CLIENT HOUSING Rent (71%)
Own Home (14%)
VETERANS WORK Why Veterans? Veterans in Los Angeles County have a wide range of needs that cannot be easily addressed by a single organization. While a number of groups have mobilized in recent years to address many of the needs of American veterans, veterans continue to face numerous challenges due specifically to unresolved family law issues. This lack of resolution leads to accrued child support arrears, suspended driver's licenses, and increasingly insurmountable hurdles to employment and housing. Moreover, lack of proper legal representation leaves veterans with young children facing limited or suspended visitation. The Veterans' Administration CHALLENG report ranks legal assistance for child support and driver's licenses suspension in the top ten unmet needs of veterans. These conditions lead to chronic problems. Debt cycles lead to homelessness, which drains local and national resources that could otherwise be spent on physical rehabilitation, mental healthcare, and other forms of assistance as veterans transition back into civilian life. The emotional impact of a veteran unable to be a part of his or her child's life is equally significant to both veteran and child.
Why Levitt & Quinn? For nearly a decade, Levitt & Quinn Family Law Centerâ€™s Veterans Project has provided legal services to at-risk veterans to help them resolve their family law issues and to aid them in their efforts to become self-supporting and financially, as well as emotionally, secure. In October of 2013, an Equal Justice Works Veterans Legal Corps Fellow joined Levitt & Quinn and spent two years expressly serving veterans with unresolved family law issues. As the only Fellow in the country then working exclusively to resolve the family law issues of our nationâ€™s veterans, she gained invaluable insight into the unique needs of this community.
THE VETERANS VIDEOCONFERENCE PROJECT Sponsored in part by
In 2016, Union Bank provided seed money for a new approach to our established Veteran’s Project: harnessing video technology and growing volunteer engagement, Levitt & Quinn was able to meet client needs in a new and innovative way as a direct result of Union Bank’s support. Utilizing technology and volunteer resources, Levitt & Quinn redeveloped our Veteran's Project in 2016 to better address the challenges facing veterans. Every month, free videoconference intake is available to remotely connect veterans on the New Directions campus in Westwood to our Levitt & Quinn veterans attorney. Clients who would benefit from extended services beyond counsel and advice are eligible to set an appointment with our attorney.
Partner: New Directions for Veterans In partnership with New Directions for Veterans (NDVets), a program that provides housing, mental health, family and other comprehensive services to thousands of veterans, Levitt & Quinn’s monthly clinics are efficient and client-centered, giving veterans the opportunity to rebuild their relationships with their children and embark on a path to economic stability. We are proud to do our part to honor NDVets’ commitment to building a national community in which all at-risk veterans and their families lead lives of honor, dignity, well-being and respect.
Our Plans: 2018
ASSESSING IMPACT We know that for the past 36 years, our attorneys have done excellent legal work on behalf of our clients. But we wanted to know more about what impact those efforts have on our client’s lives. In 2017, we begin the challenging and exciting effort of looking at our work in a new way. No longer content to simply count the tasks we do for clients, we want to know how their lives change as a result of our services. With improved tracking methodology in our case management system, we hope to receive a richer understanding about our impact.
TECH SAVVY GROWTH Like many small nonprofits, we’ve never had a comprehensive technology assessment and plan. That changes in 2017! We’ve formed a new Technology Committee, we are getting all sorts of tech related training, and we plan to create a feasible tactical technology plan that will serve us in 2018 and beyond.
POWER IN STORYTELLING In conjunction with our efforts to deepen our ties to the community, our growing Board of Directors and Leadership Council are working to rethink Levitt & Quinn’s relationship with the outside world. They recognize the importance of investing in a communications and marketing strategy that effectively builds awareness about how our organization works to fill the need for affordable family law services and to share the meaningful impact this work has on Los Angele’s County’s most vulnerable families. From creative branding to powerful storytelling, we look forward to finding new ways to talk about our work and increase our engagement with stakeholders, constituencies and new supporters.
OUR FUNDERS - 2016 -
LEGACY CIRCLE, $50,000 + Bill & Dinah Ruch Family Foundation
GOLD CIRCLE, $10,000 + Gursey | Schneider LLP Kolodny Law Group The Leila Fund / Stacy McDaniel Meyer, Olson, Lowy & Meyers, LLP The Pfaffinger Foundation Pines Law Group Hon. Jill S. Robbins (Ret.) & Robert Eisfelder Union Bank Foundation SILVER CIRCLE, $5,000 + The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Southern California Chapter Bienert, Miller & Katzman, PLC Blank Rome LLP Hon. Aviva K. Bobb (Ret.) & Ian Russ City National Bank Convergent Wealth Advisors Frankel & Reichman LLP Harris â€¢ Ginsberg LLP Hadassah Heins Jacobson, Scully, Shebby LLP The Johnny Carson Foundation Klopert & Ravden, LLP Leichter Leichter-Maroko, LLP The Morrison & Foerster Foundation O'Melveny & Myers LLP Margaret Naraghi & Victor Quattrin Ribet & Silver The Sidney Stern Memorial Trust Taylor & Lieberman Wasser, Cooperman & Mandles, P.C. White, Zuckerman, Warsavsky, Luna & Hunt LLP
PLATINUM CIRCLE, $20,000 + Feinberg, Mindel, Brandt, & Klein, LLP Jaffe and Clemens The Levitt Family Minyard | Morris Toyota Financial Services
BRONZE CIRCLE, $2,000 + Alternative Resolution Centers, LLC The Association of Certified Family Law Specialists Hon. Keith M. Clemens (Ret.) Wendy A. Herzog Cheryl Hoelting Sharon Hulse, Esq. & Dr. Louis Adler FLAMES Getman Family Gift Fund Erin L. Grey John & Hilda Arnold Foundation Laemmle Theatres Charitable Foundation Lewis Brunswick & Rebecca Matoff Foundation Blake & Susan Lugash Mayer Hoffman McCann, P.C. Bill & Ziva Naumann The Quinn Family & City News Service, Inc. Hon. Robert Schnider & Perryne Anker Don Skeoch Walzer & Melcher LLP
CHAMPIONS, $1,000 +
Brot & Gross, LLP Carden Rose, Inc. The Charitable Foundation CourtCall Emily Shappell Edelman Empire Diamond Corporation Roger Halfhide Hargrave & Hargrave AAC John B. Hurlbut, Jr. Brian Mann Juliet Markowitz Law Offices of Flam & Flam Mediating Family Law Attorneys Steve & Nancy Mindel Newmeyer & Dillion LLP Orange County United Way Our Family Wizard Pfizer Foundation Matching Gifts Program Price, Crooke, Gary & Hammers, Inc Bertram & Margot Serden Union Bank, Irvine
SUPPORTERS, $500 + Katherine E. Adkins Tammy Andrews Barry A. Cane Insurance Services Ronald F. Brot Hon. Eli & Arlene Chernow Marie Ebersbacher Family Law Software Amy Good Jane Gorman & Marc Gradstein Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law Catherine Mann Marshall McKay & Sharon Rogers Mark E. Minyard George Murphy and Jane Donahue ProSight Specialty Management Company & Tangram Insurance QDRO Counsel, Inc. Rosemarie Reed-Hashimoto Richard & Ruth Lavine Family Foundation Lynette Berg Robe David T. Ruegg Allyn Shapiro Joseph A. Shuff, III Soberlink Hon. Marjorie Steinberg & Mark Steinberg Steve & Stacey Henning Charitable Foundation David & Hilary Wisen
IN KIND & PRO BONO Advocate Technology Group Elena Correa DFS Flooring Gabrielle & Mark Hayes Mike Jarzabek Andre F. Toscano Sorrell Trope Typecraft, Inc. Taylor Williams Winestone Mediation
Our Finances For the last three years, Levitt & Quinn has worked with the accounting firm and pro bono partner Gursey | Schneider LLP, to conduct an audit of our finances. In accordance with our strategic goals, we remain committed to transparency, efficient resource allocation, and at the heart of it all, a client-centered approach to operations.
Breakdown of Finances Program Support Supporting Services Fundraising Expenses
% 79 13 8
WHY DO YOU THINK THE COMMUNITY NEEDS LEVITT & QUINN? WHAT MAKES LEVITT & QUINN UNIQUE? “It would be an oversimplification to call Levitt & Quinn a non-profit family law office. The reality? They are like emergency room doctors who race to stabilize families suffering through crisis.”
Board of Directors
“Levitt & Quinn is a trusted partner for vulnerable children and families in crisis. Our services provide a path toward family and community stability.”
Dinah C. Ruch, Esq. President Hon. Aviva K. Bobb (Ret.) Vice President Cheryl Hoelting, Esq. Secretary Michael Levitt, Esq. Treasurer Katherine E. Adkins, Esq. Toyota Financial Services Hon. Keith Clemens (Ret.) Private Judge Harold J. Cohn, Esq. Retired David Deaton, Esq. O’Melveny & Myers LLP Gwen Goldbloom Fox21 Television Studios
Steve Griesemer, Esq. Lewis & Kappes, P.C. Stephen J. Henning, Esq. Wood, Smith, Henning & Berman LLP Jeffery S. Jacobson, Esq. Jacobson Scully Shebby LLP Scott M. Klopert, Esq. Klopert & Ravden, LLP Alexandra Leichter, Esq. Leichter Leichter–Maroko LLP Juliet A. Markowitz, Esq. Tatro Tekosky Sadwick LLP Cari M. Pines, Esq. Pines Law Group
Hon. Robert Schnider (Ret.) Alternative Resolution Centers Elizabeth Potter Scully, Esq. Jacobson Scully Shebby LLP Don Skeoch L.A.Tourism & Convention Board Tiffany Tran, Esq. Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud and Romo Taylor Williams Independent Film Producer Bonnie H. Yaeger, Esq. Law & Mediation Office of Bonnie H. Yaeger
Leadership Council Heather Serden, Co-Chair Above the Glass Ricky Rozen, Esq., Co-Chair Carlton Fields
Amy Good Forensic Accountant Steven A. Mindel, Esq. Treasurer Forrest Mosten, Esq. Mosten Mediation
Hon. Marjorie S. Steinberg Michael Winestone John Aaroe Group
Staff MANAGEMENT Ana M. Storey Executive Director Sharon Hulse Director of Operations Lucia Reyes Director of Legal Services Caitlyn Kowalczyk Development Manager “We help guide families through some of the most vulnerable moments of their lives. Our support lets them focus on their children.”
ATTORNEYS Elena Correa Staff Attorney Elvia Cruz Staff Attorney Anna Lucas Staff Attorney Becky Miller Staff Attorney/Volunteer Coordinator
COORDINATING STAFF Jannina Archila Legal Assistant Alegna Gómez Legal Assistant Cruz Gomez Legal Assistant