Varnum attorneys Brad Defoe and Jailah Emerson were among those recognized at a recent Washtenaw County Annual Bench Bar Conference for their pro bono work with a homeownership assistance program.
The Home for Generations program received the prestigious Darrow-Harris Award at the May 6 bench-bar event. Defoe and Emerson were among 30 attorneys recognized for providing over 600 hours of pro bono service to the program.
Home for Generations provides targeted assistance to clear title, establish home ownership and create property wealth for underserved families. The program attempts to right the wrongs created by redlining, discriminatory lending and racial segregation that led many Black families to purchase homes through land contracts or handshake agreements, often leaving their descendants to occupy homes without legal documentation.
Defoe and Emerson were able to assist their client in avoiding the loss of her home to tax foreclosure after she purchased the home on land contract and a dispute arose with the seller.
“It’s very gratifying to help a homeowner who otherwise wouldn’t have had the resources,” Emerson said. “Ensuring access to justice and zealously advocating on behalf of those who cannot afford representation is very rewarding and provides perspective in both my professional and personal life.”
More about the event and recognition can be found in the Detroit Legal News: Annual Washtenaw County Bench-Bar conference and luncheon honors pro bono work of 30 attorneys.