May 2015 Bar Bulletin
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May 2015 Bar Bulletin

Pro Bono Volunteer of the Month

Mark Morzol

By Gwen Remmen
KCBA Pro Bono Coordinator

 

The King County Bar Association Pro Bono Services team proudly honors Mark Morzol, Housing Justice Project-Kent (HJP) volunteer, for his outstanding commitment to providing access to justice for low-income King County residents who would not otherwise receive legal assistance.

Morzol is extraordinarily dedicated. He began volunteering at HJP during law school and became a volunteer attorney in August 2014. He devotes several mornings each week to assisting low-income tenants facing eviction.

Morzol is a skilled negotiator and litigator. He has worked with dozens of HJP clients, often several in one shift. Many clients come to the clinic in great distress because they fear that they will become homeless or end up with a large judgment against them. Morzol quickly and efficiently assesses the legal aspects of the case, but what really makes him stand out as an excellent attorney is his ability to display compassion to the client. As a result, clients trust the work that he does and are able to get excellent outcomes.

Morzol works tirelessly on behalf of the underserved, and on one memorable occasion spent over six hours of what turned out to be an eight-hour shift negotiating a deal to save the housing for a client with severe mental health issues.

"Mark brings great energy to the clinic each week, we really value his skills and commitment to HJP clients," said Jessica Todd Long, HJP-Kent staff attorney.

We recently asked Morzol some questions about volunteerism and his personal interests.

Q. What inspires you to volunteer?

A. I work with intelligent people who are passionate about housing law, while representing a client base that requires me to develop new skills and new ways of thinking. There are many reasons to volunteer; I do it simply because I enjoy it.

Q. What is the biggest challenge with helping Pro Bono Services clients?

A. Many clients have an unbridled desire to "have their day in court," but have interests that may be addressed fully by working out an agreement with the landlord. The challenge is to make certain your client understands the big picture before making decisions.

Q. Favorite quote?

A. "When a defining moment comes along, you either define the moment or the moment defines you."

Q. Must-have office supply?

A. A well-stained coffee cup.

Q. What do you do for fun?

A. All things athletic! You can find me hiking up mountainsides, running, playing softball and volleyball, to name a few.

Q. What was your childhood dream job?

A. Outfielder for the Seattle Mariners.

Q. Do you have a favorite Supreme Court Justice?

A. In Washington, Justice Charles Johnson. (I had the wonderful opportunity to clerk for him.) For the U.S. Supreme Court, my favorite was Justice Robert Jackson - perhaps the best writer in court history.

Q. What is your most memorable volunteer experience?

A. HJP closes one day each year for our annual CLE. Surprisingly, there was just one eviction hearing scheduled on that day this year. Sadly, all three residents involved in that hearing suffered from very serious physical disabilities and would be temporarily homeless if evicted.

By happenstance, a local lawyer was in court during their hearing, saw the judgment, and recommended the tenants seek out HJP. Assuming their judgment was final and their situation hopeless, the tenants reluctantly came to HJP the next week. I was able to represent the tenants to stay the eviction, and then negotiate a move-out that prevented their homelessness.

One day closed. One case missed. It all matters.

The King County Bar Association sincerely thanks Morzol for his dedicated work on behalf of the Housing Justice Project and Pro Bono Services clients.

For information about the King County Bar Association Pro Bono Services programs, please contact Pro Bono Volunteer Coordinator Gwen Remmen at 206-267-7028 or GwenR@kcba.org.

 

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