Lowenstein Sandler PC Joins Merck & Co., Inc. in Providing Pro Bono Legal Services to Clients of VLJ's Bankruptcy Program

Top Quote Effort Aids Low-Income Individuals with Chapter 7 Bankruptcies. End Quote
  • Newark, NJ (1888PressRelease) February 15, 2011 - Lowenstein Sandler PC, a full-service corporate law firm with offices in New York, N.Y., Roseland, N.J., and Palo Alto, Calif., has joined global health care leader Merck & Co., Inc. in providing pro bono legal services to clients of Volunteer Lawyers for Justice's (VLJ) bankruptcy program. Through this effort, volunteer attorneys from Merck and Lowenstein Sandler aid clients in preparing voluntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy petitions and provide representation at hearings and meetings with the Chapter 7 trustees appointed to the clients' bankruptcy cases. Established in 2001, Newark, N.J.-based VLJ provides comprehensive pro bono legal services to economically-disadvantaged individuals in New Jersey.

    "We are thrilled to have Lowenstein Sandler join us in this effort," said Jordyn Baumgarten, Esq., director of pro bono services at VLJ. "The firm is highly regarded for its strong bankruptcy practice and high caliber attorneys, whose breadth of experience will serve our clients well. We also want to thank Merck for its deep commitment to VLJ through the years."

    Since the program's inception, Merck lawyers and administrative staff have helped more than 42 VLJ clients with their Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases. Merck also generously funds the program through its Merck Company Foundation. Individuals interested in learning more about VLJ's bankruptcy program can visit www.vljnj.org or call 973-645-1955.

    "The Merck volunteer attorneys have done an excellent job providing much needed services," said Mary E. Seymour, Esq., a bankruptcy partner at Lowenstein Sandler. "Along with increasing the number of lawyers, Lowenstein Sandler will bring its experience in bankruptcy case administration to assist the Merck volunteer attorneys and expand this program for VLJ."

    In addition to its bankruptcy program, VLJ provides a wide range of services including free legal counsel and advice, educational seminars on various legal matters, and direct representation for at-risk individuals facing critical civil legal issues. VLJ has grown from a grass roots effort of 30 volunteer attorneys in Essex County to a state-wide not-for-profit with five staff attorneys and more than 1,500 volunteer attorneys aiding thousands of economically disadvantaged clients each year.

    "Merck's culture of volunteerism encourages employees to become involved in appropriate volunteering activities like VLJ, and we applaud Lowenstein Sandler for joining the program," said John Todaro, a managing counsel in the Intellectual Property group at Merck. "Our experience has taught us that volunteering is an effective way to listen to and identify the community's essential needs, issues and concerns and to help community members respond appropriately."

    "Our attorneys and staff members jumped at the chance to participate in this opportunity," said Kenneth Rosen, Esq., who leads Lowenstein Sandler's Bankruptcy Department. "We plan to commit the time and resources of up to a dozen attorneys in the long-term, and are pleased that this program will be one of the leading ways that the firm's Bankruptcy Department will fulfill its pro bono commitment."

    Frequently recognized for its contributions to the community, VLJ received the "Community Builder Award" from the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice in 2008 and was the 2007 recipient of the New Jersey State Bar Association's "Annual Pro Bono Award." VLJ is an approved legal services provider of the New Jersey Supreme Court. This designation allows certain court costs and filing fees to be waived for VLJ's clients, enables VLJ volunteer attorneys to claim an exemption from mandatory pro bono assignments after 25 hours of voluntary service, and provides the opportunity for out-of-state attorneys to volunteer with the program.

    Lowenstein Sandler is one of the top 200 law firms in the country and has regularly been recognized for its pro bono commitment and programs.

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