Legal aid wades through bureaucracy to get an army veteran back to work

James Mead, an army veteran, first came to The Bar Association of San Francisco’s Volunteer Legal Services Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP) in 2010 to address an administrative problem with the Veteran’s Administration (VA). Pro bono attorney Richard Zitrin took on the representation and resolved the initial VA problem. Then, Mead lost his longtime job as a security guard due to a new state law requiring that all security guards be licensed. Zitrin again agreed to help.

Mead loved his job so he applied for a license under state procedures. Unfortunately, the California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services denied Mead’s license because of a criminal record – things he had done years ago when he was going through a rough time. The bureau ignored Mead’s decade-long, exemplary work history, simply citing his convictions and concluding that Mead had not been rehabilitated.

Zitrin obtained a Certificate of Rehabilitation, but the license still was not approved. Zitrin represented Mead at the license hearing, where the administrative law judge ruled that Mead had proven his rehabilitation. Luckily, the bureau decided not to dispute the decision and the next day, after nearly two years of litigation, Mead went back to work.

Zitrin says, “Not only are the lives of our clients often harder than ours, but fixing their problems is harder too…The system is simply not set up to help folks closer to the margins.” If not for the work of dedicated volunteers like Zitrin, these clients would likely never overcome the legal obstacles that prevent them from stabilizing their lives. Unfortunately, Mead’s situation is not unique, and the need for this type of inspired advocacy is critical. Donate now to help people like Mead obtain critical legal aid.

The Campaign for Justice. Choose Justice. Increasing Access for Those Without.
Bar Association of San Francisco Volunteer Legal Services Program, San Francisco, California

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