Every year, we recognize our outstanding volunteers, advocates, partners, and supporters during pro bono week. They are a vital part of our operation, helping us assist more clients and launch new clinics, and donating their time for the sake of justice in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.
While we have dozens of volunteers, pro bono attorneys, and law firms who help us immeasurably, these five partners shined above the rest in 2022. They’ve integrated pro bono into their practice groups, they’ve advocated for justice in the community, and they’ve gone above and beyond for ICLS clients, selflessly serving those in need.
We couldn’t ask for better community partners. Here are our 2022 Advocates for Justice award winners:
DLA Piper (US) LLP
Law Firm of the Year
DLA Piper is a global law firm with lawyers located in more than 40 countries throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific, positioning them to help clients with their legal needs around the world. DLA Piper’s clients range from multinational, Global 1000, and Fortune 500 enterprises to emerging companies developing industry-leading technologies. DLA Piper is also deeply committed to pro bono work and is a critical pro bono partner to ICLS. In 2022 alone, 10 DLA Piper attorneys volunteered with ICLS’s Small Business Clinic. Collectively, they contributed over 100 hours of their time and provided free services to 11 local small business owners and entrepreneurs. Their assistance took many forms, including contract drafting and review, as well as legal guidance on entity selection, tax law, and corporate governance. DLA Piper attorneys go above and beyond. They are always prepared, professional and friendly, and they consistently provide excellent legal guidance on very complex issues – becoming one of ICLS’s most essential pro bono partners.
As one of DLA Piper’s pro bono clients recently put it: “DLA Piper . . . went above and beyond. . . They explained and helped me understand all of my questions. They were patient and thorough. I left feeling confident! Thank you DLA Piper and the ICLS team. I am beyond grateful for your support!” We are grateful for DLA Piper’s partnership, and we are delighted to present them with this year’s Law Firm of the Year award!”
Alice Hall-Partyka, Crowell & Moring, LLP
Volunteer of the Year
Alice is an associate in Crowell & Moring’s Health Care group. When ICLS issued a call for volunteers to help a group of clients start a nonprofit organization, Alice immediately responded. When she learned that the clients needed extended, complex guidance on a wide range of legal topics, she swiftly assembled a team of attorneys and legal professionals to meet the demand. Alice then successfully led her team to guide, advise, and incorporate Vi Corporation – a nonprofit organization led by California University of Science and Medicine (CUSM) students, with a mission to build and support community health projects (e.g., food distribution networks and community health education modules) in the Inland Empire. Our community is stronger because of Vi Corporation, Alice, and her team – we are truly grateful for their service and commitment to helping others.
Erica Alfaro, Inland Counties Legal Services Board Vice President
Leader for Justice
Erica has been a driving force on the ICLS Board of Directors for the past seven years, currently serving as Board Vice President. Her positive demeanor and ability to get things done make her invaluable to ICLS, and her actions outside her board responsibilities are what truly make her a leader for justice. Erica serves as staff counsel at State Compensation Insurance Fund, where she’s a member of the State Fund Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and Emerging Leaders Program. Erica has been active in the RCBA since 2015, currently serving as Director-At-Large. She is also a past President of the Barristers, the new and young attorney organization of the RCBA, and is a founding member of the Hispanic Bar Association. We are lucky to have such an incredible leader for justice on our Board.
Natasha Lachica-Encinas, University of La Verne College of Law
Natasha came to ICLS this summer from the University of La Verne College of Law for an internship on our Family Law team, and she quickly proved her dedication to ICLS’s clients and the community at large. At the beginning of her internship, she said, “I am passionate about pursuing family law because I want to be able to provide some sense of stability and security for those who are going through a difficult time in their lives.” And throughout her time as an intern, she proved that to be true. Her passion was immensely reflected in her conversations with clients and in the level of care she brought to each case, even while working on 5-6 cases at a time. Family law takes a particular level of care and understanding, and Natasha exceeded expectations in the face of such adversity. Thanks to law students like Natasha, we’re happy to say the future of legal aid looks bright.
Greg Armstrong, Inland Counties Legal Services Consumer Practice Group Director
Outstanding Advocate for Pro Bono
For the last 15 years, Greg has been a valuable asset to ICLS, first as an attorney and now as the Consumer Practice Group Director. In his current role, Greg has shown incredible leadership for his team and ICLS’s pro bono program. In addition to securing new grants, exploring technological advances, and supporting his team through the pandemic, Greg has integrated pro bono in a meaningful way that benefits attorneys, clients, and volunteers. Hundreds of residents receive assistance and representation from our Consumer Practice Group each year – thanks to Greg’s leadership and focus on pro bono partnerships.
When accepting this award, as a true leader, Greg is sharing the stage with his incredible team, stating: “It is an honor to be recognized by my peers. But I couldn’t have done it without a great team of lawyers, paralegals and legal assistants. I accept on behalf of the whole Consumer Team at ICLS.”