In 2006 a small group of Los Angeles trial lawyers for the people, consumer attorneys who fight for justice on behalf of the great people in our City of Los Angeles, embarked on a new way to serve our community beyond their roles as attorneys. Inspired by this concept of doing charitable works in our local communities, these lawyers channeled their passion for justice towards improving the conditions of the oppressed and underserved, enhancing education, safety, access to shelter and opportunities. Founded by trial lawyers who cared deeply about social justice and improving our great city, LATLC was born.
The Early Years (2006-2012)
Under the care of founder Bruce Traney and a handful of supporters, soon the group grew to a hundred founding friends and even more active members. There were originally 24 Founding Friends who made sure that LATLC would survive and thrive, Mike Arias, Michael Baltaxe, Joseph Barrett, Pejman Ben-Cohen, Kevin Boyle, Donn Christensen, William Daniels, Jack Denove, Nick Ebrahimian, Ricardo Echeverria, Mayra Fornos, Victor George, Steven Glickman, Megan Green, Eric Kingsley, Lisa Maki, David Mallen, Sean Novak, Steven Pearl, Michelle Reinglass, Linda Fermoyle Rice and Doug Silverstein.
LATLC went to the heart of the problems plaguing the inner city and sought to help children be safe and have access to great education. LATLC saw the reality that Los Angeles was the home to the largest homeless community in America and committed to change that, providing relief to those who have no place to stay. LATLC sought to help survivors of abuse, pregnant teenagers, troubled youths, and make Los Angeles better and better. Lawyers– young and old, diverse in ethnicity, religion, practices and where they lived in the County– remained committed to the cause for positive change.
Fundraising took off. Through events, we began spreading the word and letting people know we are serious about changing the world for the better, beginning with Los Angeles. Children and families of trial lawyers began to participate, and then friends joined in. Soon, vendors and affiliate businesses wanted in, because the spirit of doing good works fills us all who are so blessed. To whom much is given, much is expected. Champions of justice, these trial lawyers from Los Angeles have grown in number, power and organization. Cy pres donations by generous lawyers fueled the group, along with consistent and generous donations from some who wished to remain anonymous, and others who were proud to be counted among us. From the Mayor to the people in the streets and schools, we have been noticed, recognized and honored. We have taken to the media, the businesses and the schools to spread this message of hope.
If there’s a need, we try to help. If hands are requested at a food bank, a beach clean-up, a righteous cause, we chip in. We now partner with an amazing group of charities as diverse as our members, but our goal remains consistent: we are there to help! We are your neighbors, your friends, we are role models in the community, and we are proud to be called trial lawyers who help people. Bruce Traney sought fellow leaders and found them in his partner Nick Kazandjieff, and his friends Jill McDonnell, Mike Alder, David DeRubertis, Arash Homampour, Rob Racine, and so many others. He chose Pejman Ben-Cohen to be the first President of LATLC, who was then succeeded by Joseph Barrett. Joe and Bruce then laid the foundation for an even stronger organization by seeking various expert opinions for the growth and vitality of the organization. By the close of 2012 LATLC had about 300 supporters throughout Los Angeles and we had distributed about $250,000 back to the community.
Growth of the Organization (2013-2015)
Soon a Board was chosen, and then Robert Simon became the third President. Fundraisers and social gatherings and enhanced media have occurred and the organization has become more and more solid and helpful to the community. Now LATLC had a full Board, an Honorary Board of generous donors, and help from so many friends and supporters. Under Bob’s leadership in 2013 LATLC held its first annual Golf Tournament. In 2014, Minh Nguyen took over as President, and along with fellow leaders, the group has grown to help more people, more organizations, raise more money, and have more fun doing it! Under Minh’s presidency LATLC held its first Casino Night and Texas Hold’em Tournament at the Casa Del Mar Hotel in Santa Monica. More than 500 attorneys and their friends and family turned out to support the community. More than $600,000 was raised in 2015. LATLC had arrived!
Under Aimee Kirby’s presidency, LATLC was able to increase the scope of our organization in all respects. Our membership grew to nearly 3,000 supporters. Our 2 nd Annual Casino Night and Texas Hold’em Tournament and our 3rd Annual Golf Tournament were both wildly successful. Thanks to the success of these event and our generous donors throughout the year, LATLC was proud to give back more than $750,000 to the community through our 45 partner charities! Additionally, thanks to Diamond LATLC Honorary Board Member Pejman Javaheri’s generous donation of $235,000 worth of food (55,000 pounds), we were able to provide meals to more than 110,000 hungry members of our community in 2015. The California State Assembly honored LATLC on May 11, 2015, recognizing the outstanding service we have done in the Los Angeles area. We were also pleased to announce that in 2015, we broadened the scope of our Mission Statement to include providing assistance to persons with disabilities. Under Aimee’s presidency LATLC established a program of formal volunteer events with our now 30 partner charities. In 2015 we held six volunteer events in the community.
Expansion & Recognition of the Organization (2016-2017)
In 2016, under Scott Corwin’s presidency, LATLC celebrated its Tenth Anniversary with unprecedented levels of growth and giving. LATLC raised $1.6 Million in 2016 alone! Our 3rd Annual Casino Night and Texas Hold’em Tournament was the biggest yet, with over 1,000 people in attendance, raising more than $750,000 to support our charitable works. The 4th Annual Golf Tournament also shattered all previous records with more than $250,000 in gross revenue. Through the partner charities grant program, we awarded grants ranging from $2,500 to $20,000 to our 45 partner charities, continuing to support the good works that they do. We grew our Youth Sports Sponsorship Program to support 50 Little Leagues and youth sports teams in primarily low income neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Our college sponsorship program was able to make even more of an impact on each student’s higher education this year, awarding scholarships of $5,000 each to 11 underserved, yet deserving high school seniors. In all, LATLC was able to give back more than $1 Million in grants and goods to the community in 2016-an all-time record.
Financial milestones aside, 2016 was a huge year for LATLC as an organization. In addition to the 16 partner charity volunteer events that our volunteers participated in throughout the year, LATLC hosted its first ever independent service project, the First Annual Holiday Turkey and Toy Giveaway. Through the support of the New Prospect Baptist Church in Compton, CA, LAPD, and Los Angeles City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson of the 8th District, in addition to other community leaders and over 90 LATLC volunteers, we were able to distribute frozen turkeys, meal supplies, and holiday gifts to 500 families in need. In 2016, we were also able to hire our first ever executive director, Lissa Mozur Zanville, to aide us as we continue to increase our impact in the community. We are so lucky to have her on board, as LATLC embarks on its second decade of justice in the courtroom and service in the community. The California State Senate honored LATLC on June 1, 2016, again recognizing the outstanding service we have done in the Los Angeles area. Administrative and organizational changes and improvements were implemented including the trademark of our intellectual property, creation of a Legacy & Leadership Council so that our Past Presidents and Emeritus Directors could provide advice and counsel to the new leaders and provide institutional memory for our organization. Our computer systems were updated and we secured a new relational data base to help with management of the organization. The practice of inviting our Partner Charities to our board of director meetings was instituted so our directors could learn more about the organizations we help.
A new motto, “We are LATLC,” set the stage for 2017. Under Mike Alder’s presidency, LATLC reaffirmed its commitment to serving Los Angeles, with a focus on hands-on involvement with the community. We added ten new partner charities to the long list of organizations that we support, and expanded all of our giving programs. At this year’s CAALA Convention, we engaged hundreds of attorneys in community service, packaging 500 toiletry kits for the homeless. This project resulted in the single largest donation that People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) had ever received. LATLC was also featured on KCBS for its first ever Great Tryke Giveaway, what is sure to be an annual event, in which LATLC partnered with SoCal Trykers and Red Star Riders to build and custom-fit 30 adaptive trykes for children with disabilities. Our 2nd Annual Holiday Turkey and Toy Giveaway was a huge success with more than 120 volunteers helping over 2,500 members of the community. This was a year dedicated to showing the world that we are trial lawyers that engage with the community. We get our hands dirty to make a difference and enact positive change. We are trial lawyers that care. We are LATLC.
The Present and the Future (2018 and Beyond)
2018 begins with Dena Weiss as our new President. We have expanded our Board of Directors to 41 members. To date LATLC is proud to provide both financial support and volunteer service to more than 85 organizations throughout our community, including: $4,250,000 to the community in grants, gifts and goods; 545,359 pounds of food to the LA Mission, LA Food Bank, Food Bank of Southern California and Delancey Street Foundation, totaling more than 848,000 meals; presented $120,000 in College Scholarships awarded to 37 high school seniors based on academic achievement and need, and $94,000 for the LATLC Youth Sports Program providing direct financial grants to more than 70 organized youth sports groups and public high schools, sponsoring little leagues, softball teams and baseball programs. In addition, we participated in 16 service projects in 2017, involving more than 1,105 volunteer-hours by plaintiff personal injury attorneys and other volunteers. We have much more to do, but we are so proud of where we came from, in 2006, where we are now in 2018, and the legacy we intend to push forward every year to continue these efforts.