The LGBTQ Center Long Beach’s Legal Services Department awarded three Long Beach attorneys for their exceptional volunteer efforts to provide comprehensive and holistic LGBTQ+ specific legal assistance to community members during the online 3rd Annual Legal Reception. Long Beach resident Max Lee of the Law Office of Maximillian Lee A.P.C. was awarded the Distinguished Solo Practitioner or Partnership Award, and Audrey Stephanie Loftin, Esq. and Rebecca Birmingham, Esq. and of Long Beach Law received the Distinguished Law Firm Award.
“LGBTQ+ specific legal assistance is critical for LGBTQ+ people who often face additional barriers due to bias and discrimination based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identities,” said Mieko Failey, Esq., director of Legal Services.
“The Center is proud to be a leader in this cutting edge and critical work,” said Andrew Dorado, interim executive director of The Center.
The volunteer recruitment event was coupled with a cocktail mixology lesson. Event participants received ingredients for two holiday-themed cocktails or mocktails in advance. A live online Cocktail Concierge bartender instructed the group to make a Winter Wonderland concoction and a Maple Bourbon Sour.
In 2017 The Center secured funding from the California Offices of Emergency Services to create Long Beach’s first ever LGBTQ+ inclusive anti-violence focused legal services department. Since then, the department has served nearly 600 clients for free with the help of a roster of volunteer attorneys. They provide victims of crime assistance for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, hate crimes, human trafficking, fraud, identity theft, arson, homicide, harassment, and other crime victimization types. Other services include employment and housing discrimination and name and gender marker petition assistance.
During the COVID-19 crisis, the department successfully pivoted to virtual and remote legal assistance. Maximilian Lee was crucial to that success by presenting the popular webinar, “Covid-19 Know Your Rights, A Live Q&A: Housing and Employment Rights for LGBTQ+ Individuals.”
“His practice and his ongoing mission are to empower clients to gain access to stability and wellness by providing comprehensive and holistic free legal consultations to community members,” said Stella Ursua, board president of The Center. “Max is ensuring that LGBTQ+ survivors of violence, discrimination and hate obtain critically needed economic security.”
“My work with the LGBTQ Center is so rewarding, so inspiring and just a lot of fun,” said Lee who received the Distinguished Solo Practitioner or Partnership Award.
The Distinguished Law Firm Award is based on the contributions to the Legal Service Department, the LGBTQ+ community and also the legal community in general. Long Beach Law principals Audrey Stephanie Loftin, Esq. and Rebecca Birmingham, Esq. have supported the department over the past three decades in matters of domestic violence, sexual assault, hate crimes and police misconduct.
“I think of The Center as organized love,” said Birmingham. “There’s so much hate out there, but this has always been a beacon, a welcoming safe place for people to come.”
Attorneys interested in volunteering can contact The Center at [email protected].
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