O’Melveny Joins Wells Fargo, Activision Blizzard, and L.A. County Bar Association to Help Veterans Clear their Records

For US military veterans struggling to adjust to life after combat, even a minor criminal record can turn into a major hurdle standing in the way of employment opportunities and financial stability.

US Army veteran James Wood understands that struggle. He lost his California driver license after he couldn’t pay fines for two minor infractions—jaywalking and failing to provide proof of insurance after a fender bender. Without his license, Wood couldn’t drive to his job as a security guard and his financial situation became precarious.

“There’s a great many things that have gone wrong in my life. That was just another blow,” said Wood.

But now Wood has reason to hope.

On Wednesday October 16, Wood joined fifteen of his fellow local veterans at a free legal clinic at O’Melveny’s downtown Los Angeles office. More than 40 lawyers and dozens of volunteers from O’Melveny, Wells Fargo bank, video game company Activision Blizzard, U.S. VETS, USC Pre-Law, and the L.A. County Bar Association worked with the veterans to clear their records and get their lives back on track.

The lawyers assisted the veterans with expunging tickets and warrants for minor infractions—like running a stop sign, jaywalking, or failing to appear in traffic court. Along with receiving legal counsel, the veterans also attended a self-help workshop, dinner, and reception.

“When veterans come home, they are hurting inside. They are walking wounded,” said Eileen Moore, Associate Justice of the California Court of Appeals. Moore served in Vietnam as a combat nurse and is committed to helping veterans readjust to civilian life. She delivered opening remarks to the clinic volunteers, addressed the veterans, and shared a compendium of articles she had written.

“Veterans face unique challenges. The difficulties of re-entering civilian life can sometimes cause veterans to make choices that have legal consequences,” said David L. Kirman, an Army veteran and O’Melveny partner who offered his legal services at the clinic.

“O’Melveny is committed to helping our veterans however we can—through pro bono legal work, fundraising, volunteering, engagement with non-profits, and providing meaningful career opportunities,” continued Kirman.

“The legal system is a labyrinth of complexities. Many of these veterans didn’t realize how failing to pay a ticket or show up for their court date could quickly compound their problems to the point of seeming insurmountable,” said Rochelle Karr, O’Melveny’s Director of Corporate and Social Responsibility.

“It was incredible to see so many lawyers and volunteers come together to give back to these veterans and help them start a new chapter in their lives,” concluded Karr.

See photos from the event→

Learn more about our Veterans Initiative, O'Melveny Salute→