“It is a very difficult situation for anyone to have to go to court,” attorney Cary Kletter explains. “However, the situation is exacerbated for clients when they are faced with the possibility of losing their homes.” Mr. Kletter speaks from experience. Since January, he has been a steadfast volunteer with VLSP´s Eviction Prevention Project. In the past five months, he has already helped nine clients facing evictions. Through his pro bono efforts, Mr. Kletter has been able to help clients keep their housing and avoid becoming homeless. He finds the satisfaction and gratification of helping individual clients and families very rewarding and recognizes it as very different from the work he does for his business clients.
A graduate of Hofstra University School of Law, Mr. Kletter was a civil litigator in New York City for four years before moving to the Bay Area in 2000. In January of 2003, he opened the Law Offices of Cary Kletter, a general civil litigation practice at One Embarcadero Center. His practice focuses on employment cases, eviction defense, ERISA, and first party insurance litigation.
However, Mr. Kletter´s interest in tenants´ rights and eviction defense isn´t new. In fact, it stems from his law school days. While attending Hofstra, Mr. Kletter participated in the Housing Rights Clinic and worked with other tenant activists to write legislation for Nassau County that was aimed at preventing evicted tenants´ belongings from being left on the curb. The legislation requires landlords to put tenants´ possessions in storage, thereby preventing individuals and families from losing their possessions when being evicted. Mr. Kletter recalls learning about VLSP´s work from Chuck Louderback of the Louderback Law Firm and Andrew Westley, attorneys he views as mentors. Based on their recommendation, he decided to take VLSP´s Introduction to Landlord/Tenant Training.
Mr. Kletter says he has chosen to continue his pro bono work with VLSP because of the positive impact he has been able to make on his clients´ lives. Additionally, Mr. Kletter has found VLSP´s system of screening and placing clients helpful and efficient. He thinks it is important to put needy clients in touch with trained pro bono attorneys and considers VLSP a convenient way to be involved in pro bono activities. Like many attorneys, Mr. Kletter says he went to law school to make a difference, and through his pro bono service he is doing so in the lives of clients in great need of legal assistance but unable to afford it.
One of Mr. Kletter´s most recent cases involved a man who had lived in his apartment for more than ten years and had deep roots in the neighborhood. When faced with the prospect of losing his home, the man was gravely distraught. Mr. Kletter reports that his client was fearful of eviction because he had minimal resources and thought an eviction might force him to live in his car. Fortunately, Mr. Kletter was able to negotiate a settlement agreement allowing his client to continue residence in his apartment.
“My clients have been very appreciative, and that–along with knowing that I have done good work for them–is very gratifying,” he says.