When June Krumpotick walked into Legal Voice (then the Northwest Women's Law Center) in April 1989, there was nary a computer to be found. June, a paralegal with a background in linguistics, was coming on board to expand on the idea of a call-in help line. At that time, Legal Voice focused only on impact litigation, but received dozens of phone calls each week from women desperate for guidance through the twists and turns of a complicated legal system.
The organization wanted to offer a phone line for these women, but needed someone to make it go. June did not take this challenge lightly and make it go she did, building a program that has engaged nearly 800 volunteers and helped too many pro se litigants to count.
As current Legal Voice Executive Director Lisa M. Stone says, "They couldn't have picked a better person for the job. If you look in the dictionary under 'organized,' you'll find a picture of June."
As June began to expand the Self Help Program back in 1989, she enlisted the help of public service attorneys to develop memos that could steer callers in the right direction - forming the Family Law Committee, now known as the Self Help Committee. Through the work of the committee, Legal Voice began collecting dozens of how-to documents on everything from working with a lawyer, to what mediation is, to how to change a parenting plan. Next came volunteer attorneys to answer the phone lines and get these materials into the hands of those who needed them.
When it became clear that some callers would need referrals to other agencies and organizations, June began to build a database, which was so extensive it was copied by the Northwest Justice Project when it started the CLEAR line in 1995. June also recognized that callers would often need to be referred to attorneys who were willing to charge a sliding-scale fee, and began to collect detailed information for the line's referral database.
You would think that someone who had poured so much into her work would have program loyalty akin to a Yankees' fan. Not so with June. "Legal Voice as a whole is unique and precious," she says. "The structure of our programs increases the value of all of them. Attorneys get a law passed that affects all women in Washington. We get that info out to the public through the Self Help Program and help them figure out how to apply it."
The Self Help Program has certainly set Legal Voice apart in the realm of advocacy organizations. Unlike other organizations that may have to reach outside their walls to assess the needs of their community, the Self Help Program keeps Legal Voice's ear to the ground through its legal Information and Referral line. As June says, "We feed into the impact arm's understanding of the emerging issues."
...login to read the rest of this article.