2022 Christian Legal Aid Summit
October 6, 2022
"When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit". (Psalm 34:17-18)
CLS’ Christian Legal Aid (CLA) program engages and equips lawyers in providing justice for the poor with the love of Christ. The Christian Legal Aid Summit provides CLA staff and volunteers from around the country the opportunity to learn, support, and bless each other as they grow in their ability to serve those in need. Everyone is welcome, including CLA leaders, staff attorneys, volunteer attorneys, board members, non-attorneys who work with legal aid clinics, and anyone interested in exploring Christian Legal Aid.
Workshop Descriptions & Speaker Bios
(Click on workshop title to download PDF speaker materials)
Opening Address: “Vocation As Ministry - Serving as Attorneys in the Justice System”
Rev. Andrew Brashier, Esq. – Faith-Based Outreach Manager, Prison Fellowship
Andrew Brashier serves on the policy team as the faith-based outreach manager, creating and developing relationships with pastors and faith leaders to deepen advocacy engagement and church partnerships with Prison Fellowship. Brashier also advocates on issues of criminal justice reform before lawmakers, partner organizations, and members of the faith community. He is committed to encouraging lawmakers to model legislation on the biblical values of justice, equity, mercy, and restoration. Previously, Brashier was a partner at Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C. He received his J.D. from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University and earned a double major in political science and history from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). An Alabama native, Brashier resides with his family in the Birmingham metro area where he pastors at the Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd.
"So . . . you feel called to start a Christian Legal Aid clinic?"
Ron Foster – Volunteer Director, Mel Trotter Legal Services
Millions of lower-income Americans with legal problems cannot find affordable legal help. Christian attorneys are uniquely called to use our legal skills and spiritual gifts to serve those with crucial legal needs. This workshop will benefit everyone who is considering starting a Christian Legal Aid clinic, as well as those persons relatively new to leading a clinic. Topics to be addressed include the Why (legal need), What (types of legal services), and How (specific steps) of starting and operating a clinic.
Ron Foster has been practicing law in Michigan since 1993. He currently serves individuals and business clients in the areas of adoption, business incorporation, contracts, employment law, estate planning, guardianship, probate of estates, non-profit organizations, and real estate law. He is also an adjunct professor of law at Grace Christian University, Davenport University, Spring Arbor University, and Cornerstone University, all in Michigan. Ron also currently works for the Michigan Supreme Court as a Foster Care Program Representative in the Child Welfare Services Division; he is the Founder and Volunteer Director of the CLS affiliated Mel Trotter Ministries Legal Services program; Member of the City of Hudsonville, Michigan, Zoning Board; Board Member and Legal Counsel of Friends of Kibbuse, Inc.; Legal Counsel for the Michigan Upper Penninsula Bible Camp; Former elected Member of the State Bar of Michigan Representative Assembly; and former Legislative Liaison for Michigan Family Forum in Lansing, Michigan. Prior to his law career Mr. Foster was a church pastor from 1974-1989. He has been married for 43 years and is the father of three adopted children. Mr. Foster graduated from Pacific Lutheran University, Fuller Theological Seminary and Thomas M. Cooley Law School.
"Legal First Responders: Closing the Justice Gap for Human Trafficking Survivors"
Nate Knapper - Founder & CEO, The Joseph Project
Human trafficking survivors are a highly vulnerable victim population composed of exploited individuals from diverse age, race, and gender backgrounds. Often, survivors face a range of legal obstacles arising from their exploitative circumstances, including criminal record impediments, family law obstacles, and immigration challenges. Yet, they often lack the knowledge and the financial means to secure skilled legal representation. Known as the 'justice gap,' this inability to secure legal assistance often impedes survivors from moving toward a brighter future. In this presentation, Nate Knapper discusses the urgent need to close this justice gap through the establishment of a national network of 'Legal First Responders' -- an army of attorneys committed to servicing survivors’ legal needs on a pro bono basis.
Nate Knapper is the Founder & CEO of The Joseph Project, a nonprofit organization that connects human trafficking survivors with pro bono legal counsel. He simultaneously serves as an FBI Special Agent (Detroit, MI). In this capacity, he conducted human trafficking investigations involving both adult and juvenile victims. Nate also previously served as an Assistant Attorney General at the Michigan Department of Attorney General (Lansing, MI), where he was a member of the Michigan Human Trafficking Commission. He is a member of the State Bar of California and the State Bar of Michigan. Nate is a graduate of Calvin University (Grand Rapids, MI), Pepperdine University School of Law (Malibu, CA), the Straus Dispute Resolution Institute (Malibu, CA), and The FBI Academy (Quantico, VA).
Unbundled legal services are an integral component of any Christian Legal Aid Clinic, and an important service to clients. However, such limited scope services come with ethical responsibilities and pitfalls, as well as heightened client considerations. Learn how we as lawyers and volunteers can ethically and effectively navigate this exciting way to serve and empower clients as we expand our ability to help others.
Nicole Steward has been a public interest lawyer in New York City since 2008. Her specialty is housing law, and she has represented poor and vulnerable tenants in the city's housing courts in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens. She started her public interest career as a staff attorney at Eviction Intervention Services (now EIS Housing Resource Center), then moved to The Legal Aid Society -- Bronx Neighborhood Office. There she served as a housing staff attorney, then became a supervising attorney of the Assigned Counsel Project for seniors. She also co-supervised the Housing Help Program, one of the first Right to Counsel models in the city. She subsequently served as Managing Attorney at Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation (NMIC), and most recently was a Senior Housing Attorney at Catholic Migration Services, where she represented the immigrant community in Queens. Her passion for justice is deep and founded upon the principles of Christ. Nicole graduated from Indiana University School of Law -- Indianapolis (now IU Robert McKinney School of Law) and became a member of the Indiana State Bar in 2006 (inactive) and the New York State Bar in 2008.
Wally Larson, Jr. is an attorney, writer and pro bono legal ethics advisor for Open Hands Legal Services. As an attorney, he has practiced over 15 years in the area of the laws of lawyering, and serves as Professional Responsibility Counsel and part of the Office of General Counsel of ArentFox Schiff LLP. He serves as Secretary to the New York State Bar Association's Committee on Professional Ethics and has chaired the New York City Bar Association's Professional Responsibility Committee. He is also the author of the Tales of Triletus, a seven-book redemptive fantasy adventure series in the tradition of CS Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia.
"Landords Gone Wild: How Rogue Landlords Profit Off the Poor"
Al Johnson – Executive Director, New Covenant Legal Services
This workshop will provide practical legal strategies that faith-based legal clinics can use to defend victims of landlord abuse. We will explore the origin and the causes of the national housing crisis. We will also provide individual cases and examples of how God can use Christian attorneys to vindicate the rights of tenants in court.
Al Johnson has been a prosecutor and an attorney for over 40 years, including in his own law practice for 20 years as a litigator with an emphasis on business and commercial litigation. He has handled everything including small claims consumer fraud cases, multi-million dollar complex commercial litigation, personal injury cases, criminal defense, and civil rights violations involving religious discrimination and police misconduct. As a veteran of over 70 jury trials he reevaluated his life and career and decided what provided him with the greatest professional satisfaction was helping those who struggle to afford experienced legal counsel.
"CLA 201: Taking Your CLA Clinic to the Next Level"
Troy Sanchez – Executive Director, Houston Legal Aid Center
Houston Legal Aid Center (HLAC) started in 2016 with one attorney answering God's call to serve the needy in his community. Today it has 6 attorneys, 2 paralegals, and 4 administrative staff members who are currently serving over 500 clients a year, representing them on complex cases in family law, immigration, wills & probate, and human trafficking. After the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, HLAC has been privileged to serve over 100 Afghan families with their immigration and family law needs. Hear HLAC Founder & Executive Director Troy Sanchez discuss his journey from being an overseas missionary to a legal aid leader working for justice in the lives of the poor, and how HLAC has become a go-to organization in Houston for serving the poor, vulnerable, and victimized. Troy will share tips on CLA operations, fundraising, ministry to clients, and recruitment of volunteers and staff.
Troy Sanchez is the founder and executive director of Houston Legal Aid Center. His calling and vision for establishing a Christian-based legal aid ministry came from the influence of his father, who practiced law for over 50 years in a poor Hispanic community in Houston, TX, as well as Mr. Sanchez’s experiences as a teacher, pastor, missionary, and attorney. Mr. Sanchez’s passion is to establish a legal aid ministry model that will serve as a catalyst for church-planting and church revitalization around the world. Mr. Sanchez lives in Houston, TX with his wife and four children. They love homeschooling, debate club, and taking family trips.
Questions? Contact CLA@clsnet.org.