On a crisp, clear November afternoon, the Alaska Air Taxi Otter touched down on Tyonek’s icy landing strip. Stepping off the plane were lawyers bundled in goose-down jackets, eager to accomplish what they came here for. Usually, the arrival of determined lawyers is not something that is warmly received. But this was different.
In what CIRI hopes will be a valuable service offered to Cook Inlet villages, members of the company’s legal team kicked off a series of legal clinics. The clinics are designed to inform village residents about a wide variety of legal topics.
“Village legal clinics allow a connection with CIRI shareholders and descendants in a direct and valuable way,” said Bruce Anders, CIRI vice president and general counsel. “What better way to demonstrate our commitment to CIRI’s mission to promote the economic and social well-being of our shareholders than to offer free legal counsel in shareholders’ own backyards?”
The classroom-style clinics, featuring Anders and CIRI Associate Counsel Stephanie Aicher, cover a number of issues of general concern, such as consumer issues, credit repair, landlord-tenant basics, homeowner liability, dog bites, contracts, child custody/support, elder resources and basic estate planning considerations.
Since CIRI attorneys cannot establish attorney-client relationships with individuals, if shareholders require representation, they are referred to one of the resources offered by CIRI’s family of nonprofit organizations, or to other resources available in the Alaska legal community.
The clinic idea, inspired by CIRI’s strategic corporate goal to deepen and enhance CIRI’s engagement with village corporations in the region, gathered momentum in August when CIRI proposed it to the villages. It received an enthusiastic response and this fall the first two clinics were held in Tyonek and Seldovia. Plans are in the works to reach the other CIRI villages in 2014.
The attorneys also reach out to schools when they visit the villages to discuss with students what lawyers do and to inspire youth to consider a career in law.
“The Alaska Native youth I met and challenged are so bright, so capable, so intellectually curious,” Anders said. “I am thrilled at the prospect of seeing a whole generation of young CIRI shareholders and descendants in Alaska’s courtrooms, law firms and corporate boardrooms.”
Representatives from CIRI’s Shareholder Relations Department join each legal clinic to conduct a talking circle about the value of completing a stock will and keeping it updated and to provide on-site notarization services to shareholders wishing to execute stock wills.
- CIRI’s legal team kicked off series of legal clinics in Cook Inlet villages.
- Touched on a number of issues of general concern from consumer issues to child custody/support, including basic estate planning considerations.
- Sought to inspire youth to consider a career in law.
- Provided connection with CIRI shareholders and descendants in a direct and valuable way.