June 2012 Bar Bulletin
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June 2012 Bar Bulletin

How 1,200 Plus 10,000 Equals 7.43 Million

By Ana LaNasa-Selvidge

 

Did you know that the KCBA's Pro Bono Services (PBS) programs work with more than 1,200 volunteers who handle in excess of 10,000 cases and provide over $7.43 million of free legal services each year in King County?

KCBA could not achieve its mission to provide legal aid to clients in the King County community without volunteers. An overwhelming majority of PBS volunteers are KCBA members.

In celebration and recognition of KCBA volunteers, we asked two fellow volunteers questions focused on understanding why they joined KCBA and why they do pro bono. Their responses make for an interesting read.

KCBA Gary Manca / Manca Law, PLLC Stephanie Erickson / GCG, Inc.
Why did you join KCBA? I wanted the chance to meet other attorneys, develop my professional skills and serve people in our community. I wanted to work with and get to know other attorneys in my community.
How has KCBA supported your professional development? The Appellate Section and YLD program have provided topical lunch seminars, which I attend when my schedule allows. I love them. They are opportunities to deepen my legal knowledge, to foster my relationships with other attorneys and to earn free CLE credits. KCBA provides networking opportunities, legal training, educational resources and support.
What PBS program(s) do you currently volunteer for or have you volunteered for in the past? Housing Justice Project. Kinship Care Solutions Project.
Why do you do pro bono work? I went to law school to help people. KCBA pro bono services give me the opportunity to use my skills to help people and, in return, I get experience and learn new skills. I joined PBS and Kinship Care Solutions because I wanted to get involved in my community, gain professional experience, learn new areas of the law and support people in need.
How has the volunteer program supported your professional development or provided opportunities for you? Through my volunteering with KCBA pro bono services, I have improved my negotiation skills and have gotten experience interviewing and counseling clients. I also took on a case scheduled for trial, and I associated with another attorney on it. This case has helped me, as a new attorney and solo practitioner, to sharpen my civil litigation skills, learn the different styles of opposing counsel and study a new area of law. KCBA's continuous support and assistance encouraged me to feel more confident in my abilities as a new attorney. I received very thorough training and gained valuable hands-on experience handling a case. It means a lot to me that I am able to develop my professional skills while also assisting low-income citizens who need legal assistance.
Did you know that one-third of membership service (dues, CLEs and LRS services) go toward the financial health and support for all six PBS programs? No, I didn't know that. That's terrific! No!
Does knowing this encourage you to become a member? Yes. Absolutely.
What would you say to encourage a peer to join KCBA or volunteer with its pro bono programs? Everybody wins. The KCBA will expose you to a broad cross section of the profession and will give you opportunities to help people in our community while developing your professional skills. I highly recommend joining KCBA for educational, networking and professional development opportunities. I have met so many wonderful people since joining KCBA and getting involved with the Kinship Care Solutions Project. I have also learned about and developed interests in areas of the law that I never thought I would be interested in. I think volunteering is one of the best ways a new attorney can get involved in the community and learn valuable legal skills.

Each and every day attorneys around the country donate their time and talent to make a difference by doing pro bono work. The types of pro bono activities engaged in are as diverse as the volunteers themselves and the impact to communities and society as a whole remains outstandingly valuable.

So, what is it that motivates and calls attorneys into action, to get up, to go and to volunteer? This, too, is as varied as the individual volunteer. In the legal profession, we tend to hear many reasons why not to volunteer:

  • No Time - The biggest reason people do not volunteer is because they believe they do not have any time to commit. Volunteer opportunities differ in level of representation, legal expertise and commitment. PBS program commitments vary from two hours every six to eight weeks to a few hours a month. It can be big or small, but offering up any of your time will impact someone's life in unimaginable ways.
  • No Malpractice Insurance - The PBS programs carry primary malpractice insurance for pro bono cases taken through our programs or for services provided at our clinics. If you have malpractice insurance of your own, through a firm or through another employer, that malpractice insurance may also cover your pro bono work.
  • No Experience in Legal Area - For attorneys new to the field or who would like to learn a new area of law, we have a few programs that provide extensive, substantive legal training, shadowing opportunities and mentorships. These programs include the Housing Justice Project, Family Law Mentor and Kinship Care Solutions Project.

KCBA provides a plethora of ways to get involved and Pro Bono Services honors its relationship with volunteers by agreeing to provide an experience to value and enjoy. To all PBS volunteers, thank you for donating your most precious resources: your skills, dedication and time.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities, please contact Ana LaNasa-Selvidge at 206-267-7042 or AnaS@kcba.org. To learn more about KCBA membership opportunities, please contact Janielle Harris at 206-267-7016 or JanielleH@kcba.org.

 

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