The Vermont Bar Association congratulates Attorneys Matthew Garcia, Joy Karnes Limoge, Sarah North and Laura Savall as the 2022 winners of the VBA’s Pro Bono Service Award
The Pro Bono Award is given annually by the VBA’s Board of Bar Managers to laud lawyers who provide extraordinary legal services to indigent and disadvantaged clients in our community. Among their other contributions, all four of this year’s award winners represent respondents in adult involuntary guardianship cases in the VBA’s Low Bono Project. Garcia, Karnes Limoge and North were nominated by Attorney Mary Ashcroft, VBA’s Legal Access Coordinator, and Laura Savall was nominated by Attorney Elyssa Willadsen.
Matthew Garcia is a solo practitioner in White River Junction who “never says ‘no’ when asked to represent a respondent” in adult guardianship cases, according to Ashcroft. Matt has been taking these low bono cases since 2012, and has to date represented over 120 indigent respondents in Windsor, Rutland, Orange, Washington and Orleans Counties. Although he is offered a minimal low bono stipend per case, Matt frequently completes representation pro bono, sometimes donating all of his time on a case. Attorney Garcia has also co-presented a CLE program on adult involuntary guardianships, and has mentored lawyers new to representing respondents.
Joy Karnes Limoge is a solo practitioner in Williston. Joy started taking adult involuntary guardianship cases in Chittenden County in 2019. Her positive attitude and willingness to step in soon came to the attention of other probate clerks, and she is now a frequent virtual visitor in probate hearings in Franklin, Washington, Rutland, Lamoille, Caledonia and Addison as well as Chittenden. In three short years, Joy has logged 65 log bono cases. “She is the go-to person when a court faces a backlog and runs out of local attorneys”, said Ashcroft.
Sarah North is a solo practitioner in Strafford. She, too, represents respondents in adult guardianship proceedings in Orange and Addison Counties—43 clients so far– but her work for the less fortunate doesn’t stop there. Sarah has represented crime victims in the VBA’s VOCA Project, covering family, victims’ rights and no-stalking cases, and even a Supreme Court appeal. She has donated dozens of hours of pro bono time over and above the per-case low bono stipend which she receives.
Laura Savall is a staff attorney with Have Justice-Will Travel and is based in Bennington. She was nominated by Attorney Elyssa Willadsen who praised Laura and HJ-WT for “their dedication to service and bolstering our community even more than I thought possible.” In addition to her family law and RFA work for clients served by Have Justice, Attorney Savall also accepts low bono assignments through the VBA’s County and VOCA low bono projects. She has assisted respondents in adult involuntary guardianships and helped adoptive parents negotiate post adoption contact agreements. She donates pro bono hours in addition to the reduced rate she receives for her legal work.
The VBA Pro Bono Service Award will be presented to these four attorneys during the VBA’s mid-year meeting luncheon on March 25 at the Hilton in Burlington. Click here to view the flyer! Register on our CLE Calendar: https://www.vtbar.org/event-calendar/