A judge and a legal technician were among those honored by the Benton Franklin Legal Aid Society for their volunteer work in 2023.
Two law firms also were recognized for their service during a luncheon in December coordinated by the nonprofit group, which helps people in the Tri-Cities who can't afford attorneys. The legal aid society matches clients with volunteer attorneys.
They provide help with non-criminal matters in areas including family law, domestic law, guardianship and wills.
The Al Yencopal Award was presented to Benton-Franklin Superior Court Judge Jackie Shea-Brown.
Shea-Brown has served as a Superior Court judge for more than eight years and was the administrative presiding judge for 2022 and 2023.
She was the co-chairperson and currently is a member of the Washington State Supreme Court’s Gender and Justice Commission, and she was the chairwoman and currently is a member of the Superior Court Judges Association's Judicial Assistance Services Program.
Before becoming a judge, Shea-Brown was an attorney in private practice, handling cases involving family law, juvenile law, criminal law, employment law and civil law. She served on the legal aid society's board of directors for 14 years.
She holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Washington and a juris doctorate from Georgetown University.
The Al Yencopal Award is named for the late judge who supported bringing low- or no-cost legal services to the Tri-Cities. It typically is given to an attorney who similarly has committed to providing free services to clients who can't pay.
The Gene Schuster Award was presented to limited license legal technician Mark Von Weber.
As a volunteer with the legal aid society, Von Weber helps people who are representing themselves with contested family law matters
Von Weber joined the Navy after high school graduation and served in the submarine force, deploying with both the Pacific and Atlantic fleets during the Cold War. He then worked on the stand-up of the United States/United Kingdom Trident II System and went on to support regulatory compliance programs.
He used his GI education benefits to become a paralegal, which led to his career as a limited license legal technician.
The Gene Schuster Award is named for the late Legal Aid founder and typically is given to volunteers who are early in their careers.
The legal aid society also honored Clearwater Law and Tri-City Family Law for their outstanding service.
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