Erin Sperger joined the Housing Justice Project (HJP) in May 2013 and immediately became a fearless advocate for low-income tenants facing eviction. She dedicates three to four days each month to HJP and has a special talent for quickly gaining the confidence of clients usually wary of authority figures. Sperger also works as a volunteer with the Kinship Care Solutions Project.
"Erin is always ready to take on new challenges," said Ellen Reed, HJP program operations coordinator. "She thoroughly researches legal issues and eagerly goes to hearings. Erin stays late to complete in-depth case notes and frequently works with HJP clients outside of the clinic."
Sperger recently answered some questions for the KCBA Bar Bulletin:
Q. What is your most memorable volunteer experience?
A. My most memorable volunteer experience was at the Housing Justice Project when I represented two tenants who had lost by default. The sheriff had already posted the writ of restitution. Even though I was able to stay the writ and schedule a hearing on the motion to vacate, the tenants lost the hearing.
The tenants were so happy that we were able to do anything, they each gave me a hug and thanked me for representing them. That has always stuck with me because the way a client measures success is not always the way an attorney measures it. To those tenants, success was having someone fight for them even if they lost.
Q. Favorite law-related movie?
A. It's not a movie, but "Law & Order" is still my all-time favorite show. I have seen every episode at least three times. Jack McCoy is one of the reasons I became an attorney.
Q. What do you think is the biggest challenge in helping HJP clients?
A. The time constraint. It can be difficult to read a client's file or get all of the information if this is their first visit. Formulating a defense and preparing to present it all within an hour or two is especially challenging. Sometimes you have to change your strategy or defense in light of new facts, but this is where having excellent legal assistants comes in handy.
They can prepare the forms, fill in the captions and put packages together for you with everything tabbed and easy to find. It also never ceases to amaze me how much information the staff attorneys know off the top of their head. They can usually point me close enough to the statute I am looking for that I can find it in a few seconds. And, the most important thing is, when the docket looks like a guest list to a party, the staff brings in doughnuts.
Q. What was your childhood dream job?
A. After seeing "My Girl," I wanted to have Jamie Lee Curtis's job being a makeup artist for a funeral director. However, as a young hairdresser, my boss took me to the funeral parlor to prepare her late client's hair and I quickly changed my mind.
Q. What is your favorite song?
A. "His Water" by Joseph Israel. He's a Reggae artist with a positive message.
Q. Must-have office supply?
A. Colored tabs.
Q. What inspires you to volunteer?
A. Yahweh inspires me to volunteer because the Torah commands us to take care of the widows and the orphans.
The King County Bar Association's Pro Bono Services sincerely thanks Sperger for her hard work and dedication to pro bono clients.