About us

Chelan Douglas County Volunteer Attorney Services (VAS) strives to provide free, high-quality legal services to those who could otherwise not afford it. VAS volunteer attorneys provides free civil legal help to low-income people through:

  • Twice-weekly advice clinics at the VAS office
  • Weekly Housing Justice Project at the Chelan County Court House
  • Monthly will and estates clinic at the Wenatchee Valley Senior Center
  • Quarterly bankruptcy clinics

 

Legal consultations with a volunteer attorney are anywhere from 40-60 minutes.  Attorneys provide legal advice, direction, paperwork review and assistance completing legal documents. In some cases, upon review and approval, VAS will attempt to obtain a lawyer for representation in court.

Established in 2002 by the Chelan Douglas Bar Association, the Chelan Douglas County Volunteer Attorney Services is a recognized 501(c)(3) not for profit organization, led and managed by an Executive Director and governed by a Board of Directors.

2018-19 Board of Directors with Law Day keynote speaker and guest, Supreme Court Justice Gonzalez.  From left to right, top: T. Hotchkiss, V. Arno-Martinez, T. Brandt, D. Kazemba, P. Pleas, Justice Gonzalez. Bottom: K. Mott, D. Law, J. Pratt, S. White.  (R. Smolinsky, not pictured)

Giving Back, Giving Big

The Chelan Douglas Bar Association has an outstanding reputation for service, civility and cooperation across the state. Local attorneys donate over 600 hours of pro bono legal services through VAS each year. This amounts to donation of legal services exceeding $135,000 a year

2018-19 Officers
Clarke Tibbits, President
Ruth Esparza, President Elect/Treasurer

Pictured: Travis Brandt, 2017-18 President passing the gavel to Clarke Tibbits at Law Day on May 14, 2018

On February 14, 2002 Chelan Douglas County Volunteer Attorney Services was incorporated as a non-profit organization. The development of the VAS program was initiated by attorney Russ Speidel, then president of the Chelan Douglas Bar Association, in partnership with other attorneys and the Community Action Council. VAS was established to respond the growing need for a coordinated, organized and accessible legal aid services.

The Chelan Douglas Bar Association (CDBA) is one of VAS’s most valued partners and supporters.  The CDBA regularly underwrites the costs of events and trainings hosted by VAS, maximizing profits and proceeds.  This means more money to fund legal aid in Chelan and Douglas counties.

Not only do nearly half of the attorneys within the bar association volunteer their time every year to help those in need, they also regularly donate much needed dollars to keep the program running.

The Chelan Douglas County Volunteer Attorney Services is honored and grateful to work along side so many dedicated and generous organizations, non-profits, businesses and individuals.  Making a difference and giving hope to those in need takes the hands, heart and the generosity of many.

2016 Awards

 


Baker Cup Award:Baker Cup_Vandergrift-Small_head

Awarded for Outstanding Judicial Participation
In The Campaign for Equal Justice

  • Chelan District and Superior Courts
  • Douglas District and Superior Courts 
  • East Wenatchee Municipal Court

 


Joe MorrisonPresident’s Award

Awarded for efforts that the Bar Association President believes are worthy of recognition.

Joe Morrison

“It’s hard to know everything that Joe does because when there’s a job to do, Joe quietly does it, seeking the least amount of recognition possible.”

 

 

 


coleenProfessionalism Award

Awarded for the pursuit of a learned profession in the spirit of service to the public and in sharing of values with other members of the profession and a lifelong dedication to the spirit of public service and frequent mentoring of young lawyers.

Colleen Frei

“Colleen is the epitome of professionalism and collegiality.  Her ethics are beyond reproach, and her word is her bond.

Having Colleen’s presence in any legal proceeding, meeting or matter only brings a more positive atmosphere for all involved.”

 


DavidPro Bono Attorney Award

Awarded for exemplary volunteer service

David Bentsen

“VAS is lucky to have someone like David in our corner. He has a keen eye for detail and quality and he cares deeply about the mission of VAS and ensuring its long-term sustainability so that legal services are available to everyone that needs them, not just for those that can afford them.”

 

 


MargePro Bono Non-Attorney Award

Awarded for exemplary volunteer service

Marge Littrell

“Marge exemplifies the missions of CASA, WVDRC and the heart of volunteerism. She has given of herself, her time and heart in making sure that each child, each individual has a voice and is heard.

It is a privilege and honor to work beside someone as committed, professional, and dedicated as Marge.”

 

2017 Awards

 


 

President’s Award

Awarded for efforts that the Bar Association President believes are worthy of recognition.

Commissioner Bart Vandegrift

This award is bestowed upon you in recognition of your long-standing career as an attorney and your public service as a Court Commissioner for Chelan County Superior Court. Your unwavering professionalism, dedication, and integrity to the law and the children, families, and individuals in our community are appreciated, respected, and irreplaceable.  Your contribution to the legal community as an advocate, a mentor, and a colleague is immeasurable.  On behalf the Chelan Douglas Counties Bar Association, thank you for your service.  Your presence on the bench will not be forgotten.

 

 


Professionalism Award

DeForest Neil Fuller

This award is bestowed upon you by the Chelan Douglas Counties Bar Association in recognition of having accomplished an extraordinary level of professionalism during your career.   Your colleagues have deemed you to be a thorough, knowledgeable and ethical legal counselor and advocate who also maintains the utmost civility and respect for opposing counsel and the court.  For setting a standard all attorneys can hope to achieve, the Chelan Douglas Counties Bar Association thanks you.

 

 

 


Pro Bono Attorney of the Year Award

Jess Monnette

Awarded for exemplary volunteer service and commitment to upholding justice.

VAS relies on the consistency and commitment of volunteers, especially at HJP, where every week tenants face overwhelming housing issues and eviction. Not only is Jess a consistent and dependable volunteer but his also a strong advocate of the Housing Justice Project.  He passionately and professionally seeks to ensure that landlords and tenants understand their rights and obligations under the landlord tenant act and strives to uphold the law in all cases.

 

 


 

Legal Services Volunteer of the Year Award

Diana McLean

Awarded for exemplary volunteer service and commitment to protecting children. 

2018 Awards

 

*Photo credit and thanks to John Marshall Photography for capturing the award winners and event*


 

President’s Award

Awarded for efforts that the Bar Association President believes are worthy of recognition.

Honorable Judith L. McCauley, Douglas County District Court, retired

 

In recognition of your career as an attorney and your long standing public service as the Douglas County Prosecuting Attorney and District Court Judge.  Your unwavering professionalism, dedication, and integrity for the law and individuals in our community are appreciated, respected and irreplaceable. Your contribution to the legal community as advocate, a mentor and a colleague is immeasurable. On behalf of the Chelan Douglas Bar Association, than you for your service. Your contributions to the legal community will always be remembered. 


Robin Gaukroger Professionalism & Civility Award

Robin Gaukroger, Davis Arneil Law FirmOf Counsel

 

In honor of your unwavering example of professionalism and civility throughout your career. You personify the most valued and revered characteristics of our profession; integrity, fairness, honest, cooperation, respect and civility.  Your example has elevated the practice of law in our legal community and shall forever be memorialized through this award, named to honor your legacy. 


Pro Bono Attorney of the Year Award

David Kazemba, Overcast Law Offices

Awarded for exemplary volunteer service and commitment to the principle of equal access to justice.

David is committed to meeting every VAS client who is considering bankruptcy as a path to get out from overwhelming debt. In 2017 David donated over 50 hours and assisted 5 women struggling with debt, to file bankruptcy. All told he lifted the burden of over $200,000 from their shoulders. This gave one mom a chance to start over, opening a business that put her on a path to self-sufficiency. Another was able to discharge debt that kept her from having a driver’s license.

 


Commitment to Community Award

Earl W. “Wes” Hensley III, Lynch and Hensley

Awarded to an attorney for exemplary community service and generous contributions of time, talent and treasure.

Wes is great asset to the Veteran organization, North Central Washington Vets Serving Vets, as both an attorney and as a Veteran. He donates his time and legal expertise to assist Veterans with wills, divorce and bankruptcy. He serves on the Board of Trustees and is involved in the most important issues at the “Bunker.” He is always willing to help and gives of his time freely to assist his fellow Veterans.

 


Legal Services  Champion

Angelica Estrada, SAGE

Awarded for exemplary commitment, leadership and service to access justice for vulnerable individuals and families in Chelan and Douglas counties.

With knowledge, skill, and compassion, Angelica empowers survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault through her “invaluable advocacy” through SAGE. For over 10 years, she has been there alongside survivors from hospital emergency rooms to Superior court rooms. She educates, she translates, she empowers survivors throughout the Valley to find his or her voice, so each has a say in her own story.

Our electronic newsletter, Bridging the Justice Gap,  offers our supporters and friends a closer look  into the Chelan Douglas County Volunteer Attorney Services (VAS) program.

 

Sign up to:

  • Learn how pro bono legal services make a difference in the lives of our clients and in the lives of the local attorneys who volunteer with VAS.
  • Find out how you can help to bridge the justice gap in Chelan and Douglas counties.
  • Stay connected.

 

 

 

 

 

2018-19 Board of Directors

President: Tyler Hotchkiss, Foreman, Appel, Hotchkiss & Zimmerman

Vice President: Ryan Smolinsky, Overcast Law Offices
Secretary: Vanessa Arno Martinez, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
Treasurer: Kyle Mott, Counsel for Defense of Chelan County

David Law, Davis Arneil Law Firm
Patrick Pleas, Northwest Justice Project
Sally White, Jeffers, Danielson, Sonn, & Aylward
David Kazemba, Overcast Law Offices
Travis Brandt, Brandt Law Firm
Jenny Pratt, Executive Director of YWCA NCW

Testimonials:

“I am so grateful for the professional and kind service provided by Mr. Russ Speidel at the Senior Legal Clinic. I am 75 and I was encouraged by my friends and family to get my affairs in order. I don’t have but a dollar to my name and I just can’t believe there are such nice people willing help me. I feel so much better about everything now.”

``Mary`` of Wenatchee

“My landlord locked me out of my house and wouldn’t let me get my stuff after I moved out. VAS helped me get my stuff back.”

HJP volunteer attorneys inform tenants of their rights and provide valuable advocacy. In this case, with a letter sent from the attorney to the landlord–citing law that requires landlord compliance,  the client was able to reclaim her belongings the same day.

VAS client helped by the Housing Justice Project

“Not all legal problems have a straightforward solution, but for a great number of people coming through VAS, they were able to overcome a disparity of power and escape a raw deal, either through legal advice or the limited representation of attorneys.”

Micah Murphy, VAS Intern

“VAS helps people who don’t have money and can’t afford lawyers. VAS helps people like me, who have disabilities and may not be able to understand the law. I appreciated that everyone I worked with was patient with me and would find new ways of explaining things to me when I didn’t understand it the first time.”

From a 37 year old woman who sought help to divorce her abusive husband

“I am thankful for the time attorneys donate.  I would not have had such a positive outcome without the advice and help of the attorneys who helped me. I feel more secure about my future.”

From a 62 year woman who sought help to divide property in a long term relationship