Legal Aid Society recognizes pro bono stars of 2019

The Benton Franklin Bar’s Legal Aid Society recently honored the attorneys who provided nearly 1,200 hours of volunteer time to help thousands of low-income Mid-Columbians with legal issues.

U.S. District Court Judge Salvador Mendoza Jr. spoke about the need for professional representation in both state and federal court during the society’s annual Attorney Appreciation luncheon.

In 2019, the society helped more than 3,000 people with civil legal issues including divorce, power of attorney, Social Security, immigrant, landlord tenant disputes, restraining orders as well as criminal defense cases.

Pro bono attorneys worked with 72 clients in court cases and provided 142 with legal advice. In all, local attorneys donated nearly $300,000 worth of time through Benton Franklin Bar Association.

“We would love to give an award to all the BAR members in our community. Without their support, our program would not be as successful as it is,” said Barb Otte-Potter, executive director of Benton Franklin Legal Aid.

Legal aid provides a monthly clinic covering family law, including divorce, parenting plans and child support cases. It also offers a yearly “advice only” clinic for clients who think they might need help but aren’t sure.

The society also works with clients who are being evicted.

Eric Butterworth

Al Yencolpal Award

Eric Butterworth of Gravis Law received the honor named for the late judge who was a key supporter of Legal Aid.

Butterworth has practiced law since 1984, when he graduated from Gonzaga University.

He later moved to Kennewick to open a solo practice focused on real estate law.

He joined Paine Hamblen before joining his wife’s family-owned real estate construction, development and management company. He returned to solo practice in 2006.

He recently joined Gravis Law in an “of counsel” role.

Gene Schuster Award

Don Schirm Jr. of Tri-City Family Law received the honor named for the late Gene Schuster, a Legal Aid founder. It is typically given to younger attorneys.

Schirm is a Mississippi native who served two tours in Iraq with the Army before college.

Don Schirm Jr.

He graduated from Washington State University in 2011 and studied law at Gonzaga School of Law, where he worked in the university’s law clinic and served as vice president of the Mission Possible club.

He was admitted to the Washington bar in 2016, the same year he graduated.

Special recognition

Legal Aid honored both attorneys and firms for taking on a large number of cases in 2019.

They were:

• Karie Hayles Davenport, Tri-City Family Law.

• Dave Petersen, Petersen Law Offices.

 • Shea Meehan, Walker Heye Meehan & Eisinger PLLC.

• Zachary Ashby, Ashby Law PLLC.

• Jeremy Bishop, Roach & Bishop LLP.

• Allison King and Patricia Chvatal, Chvatal, King Law.

• Brian Anderson, Anderson Law PLLC.

•Allen Brecke, Allen Brecke Law Offices.

• Bronson Brown, Bell Brown & Rio.

• Kolleen Ledgerwood, Ledgerwood Law.

• Gravis Law.

• Steven Defoe, Defoe Pickett Law Office.

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