The King County Bar Association Pro Bono Services team proudly honors Yuhong Li as Pro Bono Services Volunteer of the Month for his work with the Housing Justice Project (HJP) in Kent.
Li began volunteering at the HJP Kent clinic in October 2014. He began as a legal assistant and was responsible for client intake interviews, uploading files, online research, conflict checks, and working with volunteer attorneys in assisting low-income residential tenants in eviction matters.
As a graduate of the University of Wyoming School of Law, Li was encouraged to apply for legal intern status under Washington Admission to Practice Rule 9. As a Rule 9 intern, Li was permitted to represent clients under the supervision of an HJP staff attorney.
Under his Rule 9 status, Li enthusiastically represented HJP clients in negotiations and show cause hearings. He obtained uniformly good results, honing his skills for the benefit of our clients.
Li did all this while studying for the Wyoming and Washington bar exams. While he took some time out to study for the exams, he always returned to volunteering at HJP when he was ready. Once Li passed the Washington bar exam, he was sworn in as a member of the bar and has continued to help us in that capacity.
Harry F. Higgins, HJP Kent Program coordinator, says, "We are proud of Yuhong at HJP Kent. He started here as a legal assistant, and with hard work and determination we saw him rise up to be a Rule 9 intern, then an attorney. He continues to provide outstanding service to our clients, and we are happy to have him on our volunteer roster."
We recently asked Li some questions about volunteerism and his personal interests:
Q. What does pro bono mean to you?
A. Pro bono is a way for me to implement the vision that everyone is entitled to constitutional rights; even a criminal deserves a fair trial. Volunteering is one way for me to give back and support the belief that everyone deserves equal access to justice whether he is rich or poor.
Q. What is the biggest challenge with helping the clients at HJP?
A. The biggest challenge is how to advise clients when the law relating to their case contains a flaw, in my opinion. For example, a filed eviction summons will create a public record against a tenant, even if the tenant wins the case. Some landlords use this tactic to force tenants to move out.
In one of my cases, the client was pursuing a license to become a mortgage agent. For her, becoming a mortgage agent was her dream job, but any eviction notice in public records would kill her chances to get a license. She absolutely did not want that to happen.
She had a good chance to win her case, but I ended up advising her to bite the bullet and prepare to move out before the landlord filed her case with the court. I am still struggling to find a better solution for cases like hers.
Q. What is your favorite food?
A. Sashimi that is sold at Uwajimaya. Their sashimi is the best quality in town.
Q. What is your favorite law-related movie?
A. "To Kill a Mockingbird." I consider Atticus Finch a model lawyer who is not influenced by money, intimidation or social trend. He was truly doing his job as a lawyer even though the majority of society was against his client at the time.
Q. Who is your favorite Supreme Court Justice?
A. Justice Anthony Kennedy. When I attended his constitutional class in the summer of 2013, I was very impressed by his amiable chat with me and the other students, and his ability to address our questions with his sharp intellect. The beautiful language in his opinion regarding gay marriage makes me wonder when my legal writing could reach that level.
Please join HJP/Kent and KCBA Pro Bono Services in congratulating Yuhong Li as our volunteer of the month. The King County Bar Association sincerely thanks Li for his dedicated work on behalf of the Housing Justice Project and Pro Bono Services clients.
For information about volunteering for the King County Bar Association Pro Bono Services programs, please contact Heather Elliot, Pro Bono Services volunteer assistant, at 206-267-7028 or Heathere@kcba.org.