King County Bar Association's Pro Bono Services is proud to name Brian Cadwell as its Volunteer of the Month for April.
Cadwell is a longtime volunteer with the Housing Justice Project (HJP) in Kent, coming to the clinic on the first Friday of the month since 2009. Fridays can be a wildcard on the clinic schedule, with an unpredictable number of docketed and walk-in clients. Cadwell handles them all with skill and aplomb, treating each client with the same amount of care and respect regardless of their issues. His keen negotiating skills regularly result in good outcomes for our clients.
Cadwell also is a regular attendee at HJP CLEs, keeping his extensive knowledge of landlord-tenant law current. He is one of HJP-Kent's most reliable volunteers and is trusted to help train new volunteer attorneys.
Pro Bono Services thanks Cadwell for his consistent and tireless contributions to the mission of preventing homelessness in south King County. Here are his thoughts on his volunteerism and personal life.
Q: What inspires you to volunteer?
A: Giving back to my community has always been an important value to me.
Q: What is your most memorable volunteer experience?
A: It is tough to choose just one. Recently, I was able to stay the execution of a writ of restitution that would have removed a disabled client from his home. At minimum, it provided the client with much needed additional time to find a new apartment and move. He was very appreciative and I went home knowing I had made a real difference in his life.
Q: Why do you volunteer at HJP-Kent?
A: In law school at the University of Wisconsin I worked in several different legal clinics, including one that handled landlord-tenant matters. When I moved home to Washington and was licensed, I sought out opportunities where I could jump in and make an immediate contribution. When I found the Housing Justice Project, I knew it was a perfect fit. Not only was it an area of law where I already had significant experience, volunteering in the Kent clinic allowed me to serve the community in which I grew up.
Q: What do you think the biggest challenge is in helping the clients who come to the HJP-Kent clinic?
A: The limited amount of time that we get to spend with each client is challenging. At HJP, the need for assistance is great and the eviction timeline is short, so we have to move rapidly. It definitely teaches you to be quick on your feet and efficient with your time with each client.
Q: How will your experience with Pro Bono Services help others?
A: One of the things that I love about volunteering at HJP is that I leave each shift knowing that I have helped people. Even when our clients do not ultimately get to stay in their rental units, we are often able to get them additional time to move out or a reduction in the amount owed to their landlord. For those already struggling financially, these adjustments can be extremely meaningful. Further, everyone who visits the clinic leaves with valuable information on what can be a very confusing process, making them better prepared should they face a similar situation in the future.
Q: What do you love most about being a lawyer?
A: I am a problem solver by nature, so having the opportunity to sit down and untangle a really complex issue excites me.
Q: Do you have any words of advice for fellow volunteers, especially those among us who are relatively new?
A: Keep at it. In the beginning it is very normal to feel like there is so much information that you will never be able to retain it all. But, you will. Also, make frequent use of clinic staff. They are all very knowledgeable and eager to help. I've volunteered at HJP for a number of years and not a shift goes by that I don't seek out the opinion of clinic staff.
Q: Must-have office supply?
A: My high-speed scanner. I am a bit of a digital geek and I love nothing more than my scanner. It makes being paperless a breeze.
Q: What do you do for fun?
A: I enjoy spending time with my wife and new son, especially when we get to do things outdoors. This will be his first full summer, so we are really looking forward to it!
Q: To what location in the world would you visit if money were no object?
A: If money and time were no object, I'd love to hike the Pacific Crest Trail with my family someday.
Harry Higgins is the program coordinator for the KCBA Housing Justice Project in Kent.