By Alan Solot, Consumer, Housing, Public Benefits Managing Attorney
This summer SALA is excited to welcome law student Jocelyn Garcia as our third-annual David A. Paige Clerk. This paid internship position has been graciously funded by the David A. Paige Foundation for a third time. This summer the Paige Clerk will serve in SALA’s Consumer Housing Public Benefits Unit (“CHPB”). Starting on May 15, 2023, Ms. Garcia has been working with Managing Attorney Alan Solot, and Staff Attorneys Terrence Raven, Joseph Falcon-Freeman, Samuel Carroll, Sherry Dixon and Daniel Rylander.
About SALA: SALA is a non-profit 501(c)(3) public interest law firm, established in 1951, which provides free, civil legal aid to low-income individuals and families in 9 of Arizona’s 15 counties and in 11 of Arizona’s 21 Native American Communities. Since 1951, SALA has been a trusted resource and an effective voice for low-income people in southern and southeastern Arizona. Through our CHPB unit, SALA assists eligible clients facing evictions, foreclosures, wage garnishments and denials of public benefits, such as AHCCS benefits, Social Security benefits, and the like.
About CHPB: SALA assists tenants facing evictions. Most evictions involved allegations of non-payment of rent, while some are for serious allegations regarding health or safety and some are for material and irreparable breaches of the rental agreement. Where possible, CHPB lawyers provide defenses to tenants facing evictions. In all cases CHPB’s attorneys provide our clients guidance through what is a frightening and stressful legal process. As housing is a basic need for all, CHPB is dedicated to preventing evictions when possible. Even though Arizona’s fast-track eviction process favors landlords, making eviction prevention often difficult, CHPB pursues all available and valid defenses to prevent evictions. Making matters worse for tenants is having an eviction on their public record, which creates another obstacle to rehousing. When faced with an adverse ruling, CHPB will seek appellate review if possible and when a solid legal and factual basis exists. CHPB is constantly monitoring cases looking for ones that have such appealable issues.
CHPB assists its eligible clients when they are subject to losing a Housing Choice Voucher (commonly known as a “Section 8 Voucher”) and other aspects of subsidized rent and public housing.
CHPB assists eligible clients when faced with issues arising in an appeal of a denial of Social Security Disability Income benefits, overpayment of Social Security benefits, unemployment benefits, termination of AHCCS benefits and other public benefits issues.
About the David A. Paige Clerkship: Mr. David A. Paige gave Arizona his incredible legacy of excellence in lawyering, commitment to his community, mentoring, and passion for volunteering. His family has established the David A. Paige Clerkship in his memory and to carry on his legacy. Mr. Paige grew up on the west side of Phoenix and came to law school at the University of Arizona in 1972, an experience that “transformed him,” according to his family. He spent thirty-five years practicing law and mentoring other lawyers and future judges in Tucson. His volunteer work with a soup kitchen and with Haitian refugees left him with a commitment to serving those in need and with a sense of the importance of access to civil legal aid. It is our hope that this opportunity will similarly transform those law students who serve clients in this grant-funded position at SALA.
About Jocelyn Garcia: Jocelyn Garcia is an Arizona native. Born and raised in Phoenix, she came to Tucson to attend the University of Arizona for her undergraduate degree. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Law summa cum laude with minors in Mexican American Studies and Disability Education. Charmed by Tucson, Jocelyn decided to continue her education at the UA’s James E. Rogers College of Law, and she intends to graduate in May 2025.
Access to justice is a cause close to Jocelyn’s heart. In high school, Jocelyn witnessed her sibling’s experience in the education system as a disabled student; it wasn’t until the family was advised to seek legal assistance from a disability education attorney that her sibling was able to obtain the necessary support to succeed. In college, she took a class entitled, Visualizing Justice, to explore how legal rights are communicated to the public and how legal knowledge can be made more accessible. Her senior Honors thesis used participatory design to create a legal tool for parents of disabled students to inform them about their child’s rights in the public school system. Jocelyn’s personal and academic experiences guided her decision to pursue law school.
Jocelyn is the first in her family to attend law school, and that is not an accomplishment she takes lightly. She has worked her way through college since her sophomore year, and Jocelyn continues to work as a Graduate Resident Assistant and Graduate Assistant at UA.
Outside of her studies and work, Jocelyn is also dedicated to serving the campus community and local community. In her undergraduate career, she was a student leader in multicultural Greek life, the Honors College, and Housing & Residential Life. At the law school, Jocelyn continues to serve through her roles as President of the Latine Law Students Association, an Arizona Law Ambassador, and a volunteer for the Name Change Clinic.
Jocelyn is excited about the new opportunities that her 2L year will bring! In the fall, she will gain practical experience in the Education Advocacy Clinic, a program that works to enforce public school students’ rights through access to information and legal services. Jocelyn will also be a Writing Fellow, helping first-year law students become more comfortable and confident with the learning curve of legal analysis and communication. Additionally, she will begin her term as the Chief Justice of Associated Students of the University of Arizona Supreme Court to support the undergraduate student government with accountability.
Property with Professor Hu was Jocelyn’s favorite 1L class because the students were urged to reflect on the real-life impact of property law on people of all backgrounds. Professor Hu assigned a chapter of the book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond; students took a break from reading case law to engage with the lived experiences of families trying to keep a roof over their heads. Jocelyn appreciated the opportunity to connect the law to reality outside the walls of the law school.
Jocelyn intends to use her legal education and career to uplift, empower, and advocate for others.