Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, October 9, 2008


Page 3


Three Attorneys to Receive ‘Compassion Award’


By a MetNews Staff Writer


VIP Mentors, a nonprofit organization that began as a program of the State Bar of California in 1972, will be honoring three local attorneys at the organization’s annual awards banquet next Thursday night.

A spokesperson told the MetNews yesterday that the group will be presenting Pasadena criminal defense attorney Christopher Chaney and Los Angeles Deputy Public Defenders Leslie Ringold and Joanne Rotstein with the organization’s first ever Compassion Award.

The awardees were nominated by their colleagues for “going above and beyond their legal responsibilities” to their clients, VIP Mentors’ Los Angeles program director Paul Román said yesterday.

“They have really taken a personal interest and gone the distance to see that their clients not only receive the best possible legal services, but that their personal lives are aided greatly by them,” he said. State Bar President Holly Fujie is scheduled to present the awards.

Chaney said he was “pleased that an organization like that would seek out members of the defense bar.” The past president of the Criminal Courts Bar Association and member of the the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice’s Executive Committee said that he and his firm dedicate many hours of pro bono work to clients and regularly send care pacakages to those who are incarcerated.

The clients send Chaney lists of items that they want, Chaney said, “some of them go all candy, some of them go all chips,” and “some of them get really creative” in putting together meals from the items sent.

Ringold and Rotstein could not be reached for comment.

The group will also recognize Robert Armin Schwartz as Mentor of the Year, Michelle Kim and her mentee as the Match of the Year, and two mentees for outstanding achievements.

VIP Mentors offers programs in 13 counties, and claims to be the only program in California that recruits attorneys to be role models for parolees. Its website states that more than 70% of the parolees with VIP mentors are successful on parole.

It was founded in response to a challenge by former Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, asking attorneys to help the criminal justice system become “more than a revolving door.” 

Volunteers In Parole began as a State Bar program but became a separate nonprofit organization in 1991, and shortened its name to VIP Mentors in 2005. It claims over 400-attorney volunteers.

The 2008 Los Angeles Awards Banquet will take place at the Sportman’s Lodge in Studio City. Tickets for the event are $75 per person and available at the organization’s website or by calling 1-877-484-7462, the group said.


Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company