JANUARY 24, 2019 CancerLINC NEWS

Couple Becomes CancerLINC's First Legacy Society Members

Attorney Robert Flax has been practicing law in Richmond for 41 years, and some of his most interesting and rewarding cases have been the ones he's taken on as a volunteer attorney for CancerLINC.

Flax has specialized in worker's compensation cases and domestic and civil lawsuits throughout his career.  "I'm in some sort of court every day."  He has often helped those who needed legal services, but couldn't afford them.  "My clients are poor.  I take a lot of cases that turn out to be pro bono."

He began volunteering with CancerLINC three years ago.   Flax said helping others is important to him, especially cancer patients.  "My father died of esophageal cancer. It was very sudden.  And my mother was also a juvenile diabetic.  She became disabled when I was twelve.  I know what it's like to have someone go through a sudden illness like my father or a chronic one like my mother."  Volunteering to provide pro bono services to cancer patients in need is a purposeful way to give back and help in those situations, he added.

Flax and his wife, Marilyn, who has assisted in her husband's practice since retiring from teaching 19 years ago, recently became CancerLINC's first Legacy Society members.  The couple created the Marilyn Lipsitz Flax and Robert Flax Endowment Fund at the Richmond Jewish Foundation, and has designated CancerLINC to receive a portion of the fund after their death.

Mrs. Flax said that they chose CancerLINC because they have had many family members impacted by cancer, and they feel the work that CancerLINC is doing to help cancer patients is important.

Mr. Flax, a graduate of the University of Richmond Law School, has served in many capacities during his career as an attorney, including Chairman of both the Virginia State Bar's General Practice Section and the Lawyer Referral Service.

When he first joined CancerLINC as a volunteer, he initially helped patients with wills and bankruptcies.  Then one day there was a notice from CancerLINC that someone had a real emergency and needed an attorney to be in court the next morning at 8:30 a.m. for an emergency custody hearing.  Despite the short notice, Flax jumped in to help, and he is glad he did.  It is a case, he will always remember.  He represented a 19-year-old woman who was seeking custody of her nine-year-old brother after her mother died of cancer.  Her father, who was estranged from the family, had filed for custody of the boy, and the hearing was the day after the mother's funeral

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Flax said it was an unusual case in that courts don't normally award custody to a sibling over a parent.  "The judge made it very clear the first hearing, it was a large hurdle to overcome," he said.  The case was very involved and required numerous hearings.  "The guardian ad litem did a great job," he said.  "And the clients were just exceptional."  The family was originally from El Salvador.  The 19-year old sister took care of her mother when she was ill, and her little brother, while going to school and working a part-time job at a fast-food restaurant.

Flax was successful in winning the case, and the sister was awarded custody of her brother. Both, sister and brother are currently doing well.  The young woman received a full scholarship to VCU and now works as a mammography technician, and her little brother is an A student in Richmond Public Schools.  "This is a great country and the children are blossoming," Flax said. "It shows the opportunities that this country gives."  He won another similar case for CancerLINC in which a mother dying of cancer wanted her brother to have custody of her young daughter instead of the child's biological father.

"These cases were not easy.  They were convoluted, and required multiple court appearances," Flax added.  "I spent so much time rereading the statutes to make sure I wasn't missing something," he said.

Mrs. Flax said her husband loves helping people, and making a difference in their lives.  "Bob is the kind of person who basically wants to help the world," she added.  "The cases he's done for CancerLINC have been so gratifying for him."