July 2016 Bar Bulletin
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July 2016 Bar Bulletin

Pro Bono Volunteers of the Month

Wilson Sosa Padilla & Vilma Serrano-Roca

By Tanya Wanchena


The King County Bar Association Pro Bono Services team proudly honors Wilson Sosa Padilla and Vilma Serrano-
Roca as Volunteers of the Month for their work with the Self Help Plus (SHP) Family Law Program and the Kinship Care Solutions Project.

Padilla (a 3L) and Serrano-Roca (a graduate in May) recently completed academic externships with the family law programs through Seattle University School of Law. Their commitment extended beyond what was required of the law school and both volunteered many additional hours of work. The time and dedication Padilla and Serrano-Roca devoted to assisting low-income family law clients was immeasurable.

In addition to supporting clients with dissolutions, legal separations, establishment of parenting plans, and non-
parental custody cases, Padilla and Serrano-Roca made important contributions to the family law programs’ expansion to help unaccompanied children obtain humanitarian relief called Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). The programs assist clients in family law actions where unaccompanied children have been abused, neglected or abandoned by one or both parents. Once a state court predicate order is obtained through the family law action, it can later be used to help the child petition for SIJS.

Padilla and Serrano-Roca, both attorneys in their native countries of Argentina and Colombia, were instrumental in communicating with Spanish-
speaking clients, completing client intakes and drafting family law pleadings, including declarations that assisted in giving the court a clearer understanding of the parental maltreatment and dangers children would face if they were forced to return to their home countries.

With Padilla’s and Serrano-Roca’s help, the lives of these children have been forever changed. This would not have been possible without their hard work. They understand the value of pro bono practice and truly strive to make a difference in the lives of their clients.

We recently asked Padilla (P) and Serrano-Roca (S) a few questions about volunteering:

Q: What inspires you to volunteer?

A (P): I wanted to help my community.

A (S): Commitment and service to the community have always been a fundamental part of my personal and professional life for many years.

Q: What does pro bono mean to you?

A (P): Pro bono is a way to fulfill my need to give back to my community and assist the most unrepresented and vulnerable populations in our society.

A (S): Pro bono is an opportunity for me to give something back for all the tangible and intangible things I have received in my life.

Q: What was your childhood dream job?

A (P): To be a car racer.

A (S): To be a Supreme Court justice.

Q: What is the biggest challenge with helping the clients in your PBS program?

A (P): Having to tell a client we are not able to take their case because they are ineligible for services.

A (S): Besides language, lack of resources, fear of going to court and other factors … explaining to clients there is a process and they need to be patient and take the necessary steps to accomplish all of the requirements to complete their case.

Q: What do you do for fun?

A (P): Soccer, windsurfing and riding my motorcycle.

A (S): I like to go to movies.

Q: Favorite quote?

A (P): “I am I and my circumstances.” (“Yo soy yo y mi circunstancia.”) José Ortega y Gasset.

A (S): “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince.

Q: Favorite law-related movie?

A (P): “The Paper Chase.”

A (S): “Erin Brockovich.”

Q: Do you have any words of advice for fellow volunteers?

A (P): Do your best and enjoy it.

A (S): Be passionate about what you’re doing.


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