This event has been going on annually for 19 years
By Daniel Garay
On April 29, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the City of Arcadia will host its 19th annual Ask-A-Lawyer Program in celebration of national Law Day. This event is meant to help the people of the City get their questions answered for free by volunteer attorneys. The event will be held at the Arcadia Public Library, 20 West Duarte Road.
“For the 19th year in a row, local attorneys will volunteer their time to provide assistance to members of our community with their legal problems. One on one consultation is available where legal guidance and expert legal help will be provided. This is a wonderful annual resource for our residents” said Mayor Tom Beck, an attorney by profession, according to a press release.
These local attorneys are experts in all legal fields ranging from: tax, immigration, real estate, landlord-tenants issues, employee’s rights, family, and government benefits law. They will accept “walk-up” appointments for 20 minutes each. Residents should be advised, however, that the volunteer attorneys will not be taking cases at this event.
Law Day is a national holiday that traditionally falls on May 1, also recognized as May Day and International Workers’ Day. It was approved by Congress in 1961 as a day to show the country’s dedication to the rule of law. Ever since then, every U.S. President has made a proclamation expressing that dedication. The City of Arcadia, however, settles for a comfortable Saturday with free legal advice.
Gary Kovacic, former mayor of Arcadia and life-long attorney, inaugurated the event back in 1999.
“Based on my life-long connection with the City of Arcadia, and my interest in and experience with the Constitution and the laws that protect our rights and liberties, once I was on the Arcadia City Council I thought it would be a great idea to celebrate Law Day with an annual event in Arcadia that provided free legal advice to area residents in need of assistance. In 1999, I started the event and have chaired it ever since,” recounted Kovacic in an email to Beacon Media News.
The Arcadia Chinese Association (ACA) has been very active in the past, volunteering year after year for this event. The ACA provides help with the initial intake of information from the attendees and translation services in Mandarin and Cantonese. They are also cosponsor for this event. Kovacic, a life-long member of the ACA, said, “We could not hold this annual event without the tremendous help and support we receive from the Arcadia Chinese Association and the City,” – nor the “delicious luncheon for all [the] volunteers.”
But why would attorneys give legal advice for free? Kovacic believes that this is out of “civic virtue.” “Attorneys embrace the rule of law in our country and most are willing to provide pro bono service to those who need it.”
Nowadays, this public event can seem very much needed. “Sometimes, all it takes is an experienced listener, sound advice, and a helpful referral to alleviate the stress and concern caused by an unfamiliar legal issue,“ Kovacic added.
In a nation and time where worry over finances hang in our minds; stress over legal status occupies our thoughts; and getting government help can seem like a course not navigable, it is the people who volunteer that make it easier for the betterment of all.
“… Law Day in Arcadia provides a welcome resource of helpful information and valuable assistance for our residents.”