Tyler Defrees began volunteering for the King County Bar Association Pro Bono Services Family Law Mentor Program in 2013. He is an exceptionally dedicated and compassionate advocate for Pro Bono Services family law clients.
"In the course of finishing law school and passing the bar I've come to realize what an incredible responsibility it is to have a law degree," Defrees said. "Everyone deserves to have access to quality legal representation, no matter their net worth or ZIP code. I volunteer because it is one small way I can help make that a reality. I want to help build a justice system that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few."
Defrees recently settled an incredibly complex case that took almost two years and many court appearances to finalize. According to Susan Carroll, Defrees' mentor, not only were the "usual" issues of domestic violence and establishing a parenting plan present, his case also involved complex discovery with multiple hidden assets, and cultural and economic issues that made it even more difficult for his client to protect herself and her children.
"Tyler was able to successfully secure an initial protection order for his client and the children, a parenting plan that assures that the children will remain in her care in this country, a fair and equitable division of the assets, and he even stayed on the case to renew her protection order the following year," Carroll said.
Defrees recently answered some questions for the KCBA Bar Bulletin:
Q. What inspires you to volunteer?
A. I was drawn to the KCBA Family Law Mentor Program as a great way to give legal services to those in need and to gain some hands-on experience after passing the bar exam. This program offers comprehensive support to attorneys trying to gain family law experience.
Q. Describe your most memorable volunteer experience.
A.This was my first case, so I was very nervous during my first couple of appearances in front of a judge. I remember frantically calling my mentor and hitting her with a barrage of questions. She was a tremendous help in soothing the pre-court butterflies.
Q. Words of advice for fellow volunteers?
A.Clients can be in crisis and their case can the most significant part of their life. The responsibility of handling something that means so much to a client comes with its share of challenges. Communication with clients becomes an essential part of the process to ensure that they feel their goals and interests are addressed.
Q. If you were not a lawyer, what profession would you choose?
A. I would like to work for NASA. I think space is neat.
Q. Do you have a favorite law-related movie?
A. The Jimmy Stewart classic "Anatomy of a Murder."
Q. What do you do for fun?
A. I enjoy cycling, cooking and hiking around the Pacific Northwest.
The King County Bar Association sincerely thanks Defrees for his outstanding commitment to Pro Bono Services clients and the Family Law Mentor Program.