Attorney with Passion for Service returns to Legal Services Alabama
“I treat clients as if they were my mother – with the same respect and dignity I would want her given,” said LSA new Staff Attorney Michael Letson. “Charlie Carmichael, the longest practicing attorney in Alabama, once told me, ‘Never turn anybody away and never be rude to them, and you’ll do well.’”
This personal philosophy is what the newest Staff Attorney in the Birmingham office brings to LSA. A graduate of Miles Law School in Birmingham and The University of Alabama, Letson decided to practice law after a horrific incident with a family member almost turned fatal.
“I always wanted to go to law school after my cousin was kidnapped and shot in the head by her ex-husband,” Letson said, who after working for LSA’s Florence office in 2005, returned to the organization in October 2017. “I had studied domestic violence work.”
A native of Moulton, AL, Letson believes he can relate to his clients in an empathetic way.
“I was pained [at what happened to his cousin],” Letson said, who also received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from UA and studied under seminal figures and UA professors Al Sella and Henry Betak. “My art was inspired by my cousin and that event. I am from a small town – just like some of my clients. Before I went to law school, I was ignorant of the court system – or the process of going to court. It’s different for each client regarding how well they understand the court system or how a divorce happens, etc. You can’t do this work without empathy.”
Letson worked for the Florence office until 2012, serving on several civic organizations such as the DV Coalition in several counties, the Inner Agency Council (Lawrence County), North Alabama Children’s Policy Councils, the Jackson House Foundation [home restoration project], and assisting many families who were affected by the 2011 tornadoes to find homes. During his first tenure with LSA, Letson worked with other LSA attorneys to ensure the incorporation of several DV councils that provided DV training for members of law enforcement and lawyers from across the state.
“While in Florence I was working through a tornado grant, with deeds and titles that would allow us to build 20 to 30 free homes for people who were displaced by the tornadoes,” Letson said. “We worked extensively with other organizations in such counties as Marion, Franklin and Lawrence.”
For Letson, it’s about going out of one’s way to help those who are underserved. Just recently, Letson was able to help a Vietnam War veteran find a decent place to live.
“This was my first case back with LSA,” Letson said. “The Vietnam vet was being falsely evicted from his home which had been condemned by the city. I personally found him housing – went out of my way to assist. Now, he’s in a decent home that is newly renovated with new appliances, etc.”
Being back at LSA, Letson said, feels like home.
“It’s like being back with family. I like my clients and the people I work with,” Letson said. “I like the fact we actually are helping our clients – people that no one else would help if not for Legal Services.
“I wanted to come back – it’s where I belong,” Letson said. “I also hope to do more DV work in the future.”
Letson specializes in bankruptcy (Chapter 7), DV, garnishment/collection and housing, and is employed through a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) with the City of Birmingham.
When not practicing, Letson enjoys spending time with family and his two inherited dogs and a cat.