We’re proud to recognize Sara Lucas, as the Volunteer of the Month. Read on to learn more about Sara and her experience as an MVLS volunteer.
Why do you choose to volunteer with MVLS?
There are many reasons why I choose to volunteer with MVLS. First, MVLS offers plenty of support and resources to help volunteers navigate their cases, and the MVLS staff are responsive and always willing to help. There are numerous trainings posted online that volunteer attorneys can watch, and if you need to, you can reach out and speak with an experienced attorney about the case on which you are working. MVLS also has a Community Advocacy Network (“CAN”) that provides additional support to the volunteers. Furthermore, MVLS offers a diverse array of cases to work on, from divorces and other family law issues, to bankruptcy, personal injury, expungements, estate planning, and much, much more. The diverse array of cases MVLS offers poses many opportunities for volunteer attorneys to become exposed to areas of law other than their practice areas, and even to build a “secondary” or “pro bono” practice, allowing the attorney to become more well-rounded and well versed. Finally, the clients are always incredibly thankful, gracious, and a joy.
Are there any recent cases that you’re proud of? Tell us more about what happened, or about what you learned.
There are a few MVLS cases that I am particularly proud. The first is a guardianship case, whereby I helped a senior citizen who was on a fixed income obtain guardianship over her older sister who had severe dementia and was in a nursing home. The client and her sister had several assets together, which made it impossible for the client to dispose of those assets accordingly. This was the first guardianship case I have ever handled, and I successfully helped the client obtain guardianship over the person and the property of her sister, which included filing a petition, facilitating service on many interested parties, communicating with the appointed attorney for the sister, and ultimately appearing on my client’s behalf at a hearing. Some other cases I am particularly proud of are two name change cases. In the first name change case, I helped a minor correct her name, and because it was corrected, she is now able to get her learner’s permit, learn how to drive, and ultimately get her driver’s license. In another name change case, I helped a mother correct the name of her toddler so that the child could get baptized under the correct name, which was of the utmost importance to the client.
From these cases, I learned that simple matters such as name changes actually have an extraordinary impact, and that it is possible to navigate a completely new (and somewhat complex) area of law such as guardianships.
How does volunteering with MVLS impact you (personally, professionally, or both)?
Volunteering with MVLS impacts me both personally and professionally. I feel very fulfilled when I help others solve problems, especially those that may not have as many resources as others. I also enjoy interacting with people outside of my practice area and feel refreshed when I do so. On a professional level, I get to expand my practice, learn a new area of law, and develop skills that will help me in my practice overall.
What would you say to others who are considering volunteering with or supporting MVLS?
Do it. You will have no regrets.
How would you explain the impact of your pro bono work to someone who isn’t familiar with MVLS?
I help clients with limited resources and less access navigate their legal issue and resolve it, free of charge. It is fulfilling for me and impactful for them!
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
It may be overwhelming to take a case in an area of law an attorney is completely unfamiliar with, but I would recommend doing just that. In the practice of law, lawyers are constantly in positions of discomfort, whether it is during the course of contentious litigation, a negotiation, or dealing with a difficult client. I recommend exercising the skill of overcoming your fears or discomfort by taking a case in a completely unfamiliar area of law (when the attorney has a bit of extra time) and learn something new. The support and resources MVLS’ provide make the task much less onerous than one might think, and attorneys will gain confidence in mastering a new area of law. That confidence is especially important for new attorneys.