Judy Nakashima Shoji is an extremely dedicated volunteer. The King County Bar Association's Pro Bono Services (PBS) team honors her as the October 2014 Volunteer of the Month for her outstanding work with the Self Help Plus Program and the Neighborhood Legal Clinics.
Shoji began volunteering with PBS eight years ago at the Greenwood Family Law Neighborhood Legal Clinic. She joined the Self Help Plus Program (SHP) three months ago to assist pro se clients by reviewing the legal documents associated with non-contested marriage dissolutions, legal separations, and petitions to establish parenting plans and child support in non-contested cases. Shoji's suggestions are always insightful and well thought out.
The SHP Program recently assisted a client married in West Africa and concerned about her husband taking their minor child out of the country. After reviewing the documents, Shoji provided invaluable information leading to increased protection for the client and her child. This information will now be included in similar cases.
"Judy's commitment to our clients and her attention to detail have been amazing. I'm thoroughly impressed with her availability to review cases for the SHP Program and look forward to continuing to work together," said Tanya Wanchena, Self Help Plus Program manager.
Shoji recently answered some questions for the KCBA Bar Bulletin:
Q.What does pro bono mean to you?
A. Too many people need but cannot afford legal assistance. Volunteering allows me to give back to the community. I am only one person who volunteers a few hours a month, but every little bit counts.
Q. What is your most memorable volunteer experience?
A. There are many. Most involve young, single mothers who are vulnerable, lack money and have little understanding of the legal system. I find that taking just a few minutes to explain the legal system to them, explaining where they can go for help and the process by which they can protect themselves and their children gives these women the confidence they need to proceed pro se.
Q.Words of advice for potential volunteers?
A. I thought volunteering for the KCBA would take too much time. I discovered that it only takes a few hours each month. I think that is the beauty of the KCBA Pro Bono Services programs. They take very little time. I've been doing it so long that it is a regular part of my monthly routine. Words of advice - do it! It does not take much time, yet is very fulfilling.
Q. If you were not a lawyer, what profession would you choose?
A. I would work for a nonprofit organization focused on the well-being and education of young children.
Q.What do you do for fun?
A. I have three kids, so I get the most pleasure from attending their athletic events. I am the crazy mom who is cheering them on very loudly.
The King County Bar Association sincerely thanks Shoji for her generosity and dedication to Pro Bono Services clients.