Shannon L. Kowitz, a Senior Family Law Associate at Mulinazzi Law Firm, has been a stellar MVLS volunteer for the past nine years. In this time, Shannon has accepted 31 cases in the areas of adoption, divorce, expungement, guardianship, and custody. She accepted over 10 cases in FY 2019 alone.
Our paralegals describe Shannon as a motivated, personally engaged, and willing volunteer. Recently, when we were having a harder time placing a more complicated case, Shannon eagerly stepped in.
Read on to hear more from Shannon about why pro bono matters!
- Why do you choose to volunteer with MVLS?
No matter socio economic status, divorce and custody disputes involve our most precious relationships. In many cases, the Court must act to protect vulnerable adults or children. It is disheartening that a mother may lose visits with her children because her abuser is making false claims against her. Similarly, a wife suffering from a chronic illness may not be able to prove her husband’s income and as a result of being denied alimony, be evicted.
We have public defenders to represent in criminal matters. Such an equivalent government service does not exist in domestic matters but domestic rulings will have lasting effects (if not greater than criminal convictions). I feel passionately that wealth (or lack thereof) shall not be a factor in a litigant accessing fairness in our court system. Therefore, it gives me so much purpose and joy to volunteer for MVLS.
I began my career in public service. There were reasons that I did not remain full time in public service but I am grateful that the Mulinazzi Law Office allows me to devote a percentage of my practice to lower income families.
- Do you have any stand out stories?
I have many memorable cases. I have met so many wonderful people, each with their own life experiences and wisdom. I have represented several woman through MVLS that were assaulted and/or their lives threatened by their partners. I have witnessed victims of domestic violence exhibit tremendous strength and regain control of their lives. I am honored to have provided each of them strong advocacy and guidance.
- What is your favorite part about volunteering with MVLS?
In addition to the reasons already stated, my favorite part of volunteering with MVLS is the tremendous amount of gratitude for my representation expressed by my clients. I have built strong connections with my MVLS clients and we remain in contact because we both care about each other. Through presenting at seminars and participating in the mentor program, I have met many members of the bench and other attorneys. It is an honor to be associated with MVLS in my community and for the Mulinazzi Law Office to be recognized by MVLS. I became a lawyer to help others and I truly feel that I am doing good, selfless work.
- Why should other attorneys do pro bono?
Volunteering for MVLS will improve any attorney. Whether you are an experienced or newly barred attorney, the population which MVLS serves will force any attorney to research case law and problem solve differently. In some cases, I have had to act as a social worker learning about government programs. There have also been cases where I have had to be sensitive to cultural expectations. My involvement with MVLS has made me a more knowledgeable, empathetic and sensible attorney.