The Friday Law Firm and Arkansas Legal Services Partnership director Vincent Morris recently received prestigious awards for their dedication to providing legal aid.
The National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA) awarded Morris a 2014 “Innovation in Equal Justice” award at a ceremony earlier this month. Morris received the award in recognition of his outstanding career contributions to creativity and innovation in the delivery of legal services to poor people.
Morris helped create and launch www.arlegalservices.org, as well as helped develop more than 170 automated legal resources for use by low-income Arkansans and the legal advocates who help them.
Morris, who started an eight-week internship with the Center for Arkansas Legal Services in 2003 while a law student, is now the director of the statewide coordinating unit for the state’s two civil legal aid programs: the Center for Arkansas Legal Services and Legal Aid of Arkansas.
Legal Aid of Arkansas and the Center for Arkansas Legal Services are nonprofit organizations that provide free legal services to low-income Arkansans with civil legal problems, including foreclosure, consumer issues, housing, help for victims of domestic abuse, and representation in public benefits.
During his 11-year tenure with the groups, Morris has spearheaded more than 15 “justice technology” projects designed to help low-income Arkansas residents navigate serious civil legal problems that threaten their safety, health, and self-sufficiency.
“Vince’s work represents the future of the legal profession,” said retired Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Annabelle Imber Tuck. “As our society relies more on technology and less on lawyers, it is incumbent upon us to find ways to bridge that gap and get competent legal help to those who need it, especially when nearly half of our state’s residents can’t afford lawyers. Vince has singlehandedly made this happen in the Arkansas legal aid community.”
Hillary Rodham Clinton is also a previous award winner from the NLADA.
NLADA also announced that Little Rock-based law firm Friday, Eldredge & Clark is one of 25 law firms nationally to receive the prestigious “Beacon of Justice” award. The Friday Firm will be receiving the award in recognition of its pioneering volunteer work with Legal Aid of Arkansas and an Arkansas Delta-based medical-legal partnership.
For the past year, the Friday Firm’s Commercial Litigation Practice Group has also been involved with a medical-legal partnership in Clarendon, Arkansas meeting with patients at Mid-Delta Health Systems. Attorneys meet with clinic patients twice a month to provide free legal assistance for issues ranging from family law to consumer matters. Recently, the firm has expanded its legal aid to the Lee County Cooperative Clinic in Marianna, Arkansas.
“The Friday Firm’s commitment to these projects has proven to be an innovative, high-impact way to help these rural clinics address underlying social issues that affect health outcomes of their patients,” said Arkansas Access to Justice Commission Executive Director Amy Johnson.
The firm’s attorneys volunteered more than 300 hours in 2013 on this project alone, said Johnson. In total, Friday Firm attorneys performed a total of more than 1,700 hours of pro bono services in 2013.
Award winners will be formally honored at the NLADA Exemplar Award Dinner on Thursday, June 26, 2014, at The Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in Washington D.C.