Pro Bono Award To Lara Johnson

The Lane County Bar Association (LCBA) recognized Lara Johnson with its 2021 Andrew Clement Pro Bono Award, which honors an individual who has provided exceptional service to persons of limited means.  Former Oregon Trial Lawyer Association President Tina Stupasky gave a warm, kind introduction of Lara at this year’s virtual LCBA awards event.

Some of Lara’s comments at the event are here:

Thank you Tina and Brad for your kind words. I am honored and humbled that my colleagues have selected me for the Andrew Clement award.

When Brad came bounding into my office a few weeks ago to let me know the Board’s decision, it came as a complete surprise, and honestly I struggled.

First, we are surrounded by generous lawyers in our community who every day serve those in need through their representation of needy clients, or who volunteer in the community.

Second, I know that this award is a reflection of work of the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association as a whole, and of a number of wonderful attorneys here in Lane County, for what they did for those hurt by the devastating wildfires of 2020.

You may each recall the moment when you first learned of the historic fires a year and half ago.  I was near Timberline Lodge hiking with my husband looking at thick smoke billowing up from two separate fires.  Then we learned of fires near Medford, on the coast, just north of us, and the devastating Holiday Farm fire in our backyard.  The Holiday Farm fire in the end burned a total of over 170,000 acres, making it one of the largest in Oregon history.  People in Blue River, Nimrod, and elsewhere had their homes destroyed.  Thousands had to evacuate.

Mark Johnston, an OTLA member from Clackamas County, was given an order to evacuate his family.  Like many other Oregonians, they gathered up important documents, family photographs, prized possession, and pets.  He knew he was more fortunate than many of his neighbors and he asked himself, “what can I do?”  He turned to OTLA.  I was then President Elect and I volunteered to work with Mark to shepherd a state-wide effort to assist wildfire victims and survivors.

Several of our OTLA members stepped up to train the rest of us on how to advise wildfire survivors about making homeowners claims.  OTLA recorded videos that were put up on the OTLA website to educate the public.  I want to give a special shout out here to Lane County OTLA member Clint Tapper who was an extraordinary resource.  He educated the rest of us.  I cannot count the number of questions he answered in a short number of months. OTLA set up a hotline.  One of our board members noticed that the evacuation orders were not translated into Spanish and many of the hard-hit areas had Spanish-speaking populations, including migrant workers.  OTLA raised $33,000 for migrant workers displaced by the wildfires.  All told, there were 80 OTLA members who volunteered their time for the hotline and for 11 in-person events.

Here in Lane County, in addition to Clint Tapper, many other people showed up to help.  I apologize for not mentioning everyone, but I do want to acknowledge volunteers Shane Davis, Beatrice Grace, and Brandon Moore.

Attorneys are first and foremost members of our community.  I like to think that when the community has needs, we all find ways to help.

Thank you.