A Just Cause

The legal system can be challenging to navigate. Fortunately, El Centro de Amistad clients have a place to go to help them. Longtime supporter of our organization, Mark Ozzello, attorney at Markun Zusman Freniere & Compton LLP, volunteers several hours a month at a legal clinic the firm set up in partnership with El Centro de Amistad to guide clients in need. The legal clinic has served about 70 individuals with topics ranging from immigration to family law. According to Mark, 90% of what he’s done is lead people into self-help areas. “They come to me at these sessions haven’t exhausted the things they can do. I’m trying to help a client through the process, on what to do, what to say, and how to speak.” One resource Mark raves about is the Los Angeles Superior Court in Van Nuys, which has a “tremendous help center with Spanish translators and every single issue you can think of and it gets resolved.” “In some cases, clients have had immediate problems that the help center in Van Nuys was not going to be a process that was going to work for them quickly,” said Mark. He recounted one case in which the client was getting evicted from their apartment and falling behind in auto payments. The help he offered resulted in substantial child support payments that empowered the client to make real life changes. In another case, Mark directed the person to list five things they needed to do immediately to keep his brother in the United States and out of the detention center. The judge gave that person qualified non-citizen immigration status to stay in the United States. “If he had been sent back to El Salvador,” Mark said, “he would have been persecuted.” These cases are examples of what compels Mark to dedicate his time to his life’s vocation. “I really enjoy the process and certainly look forward to the time I spend at El Centro de Amistad. I feel like I’ve helped people.” El Centro de Amistad’s mission continues to empower individuals much like Mark’s indelible imprint in the lives of those he has served. How you can help? The legal clinic has a need for attorneys in immigration and family law fields. For attorneys interested in helping out, call Tamika Farr, El Centro de Amistad Executive Director, at 818-347-8565. Clients seeking legal support may call 818-347-8565 to find out when the next legal clinic will be held at 7038 Owensmouth Ave. in Canoga Park