Two Birmingham Attorneys Acknowledged for Pro Bono Work

Jailah Emerson, Brad Defoe headshots
Courtesy of Varnum

The Washtenaw County Annual Bench Bar Conference, conducted in Ann Arbor, recognized two attorneys from Varnum, a law firm with locations throughout the state, Jailah Emerson and Brad Defoe, 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 event. Emerson and Defoe were among 30 attorneys recognized for providing over 600 hours of pro bono service to the program.

“It’s very gratifying to help a homeowner who otherwise wouldn’t have had the resources,” says Emerson. “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.”

Home for Generations provides targeted assistance to clear title, establish home ownership, and create property wealth for underserved families.

The program attempts to mend issues 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.

Emerson and Defoe 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.

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