We’re proud to recognize Krystil E. Smith as the January 2022 Volunteer of the Month. Read on to learn more about Krystil and her experience as an MVLS volunteer.
Why do you choose to volunteer with MVLS?
I chose to volunteer with MVLS after learning of the even greater need for legal representation since the start of the global pandemic. Although I do not practice family law full time (I work in ADR – Alternative Dispute Resolution), I knew that MVLS provided resources to help fill any gaps in my knowledge, so I feel very comfortable and confident assisting clients with their cases and legal issues. However, it wasn’t until my mother, who is a senior citizen living in Texas, required legal representation and was able to obtain the much-needed, comprehensive assistance from a legal aid service near her that I knew I needed to do what I could with my Maryland license to assist those in my community.
Prior to the pandemic, my pro bono work was largely dedicated to expungement clinics, but I have deeply enjoyed the family law cases I have taken thus far. The clients are so appreciative of the assistance in resolving their issues. I am likewise appreciative of the many resources that the staff at MVLS, Michaela in particular, have offered me and my clients.
Do you have any stand out stories?
I am not sure if this rises to the level of a standout story. But there was a moment at the conclusion of one of my cases that really stood out to me. One of the clients in an Alternate Service divorce case was so relieved to have closure from their estranged spouse that she wept when I called to let her know that she was officially divorced. She said she was just so happy to be able to move on with her life, including dating and possibly even moving out of the area.
What is your favorite part about volunteering with MVLS?
My favorite part is most certainly the relief, happiness, and satisfaction of the clients when their cases are fully resolved. They always express their gratitude, and they mention that they are so happy that they didn’t have to navigate the legal process alone. They had a lawyer, and they take great comfort and pride in that fact.
Why should other attorneys do pro bono?
Not to be a cliché, but to whom much is given, much is expected. I went to law school to help others, and although I do a tremendous amount of help in my ADR work, this is one way for me to use my license to help those who would benefit greatly from legal advice and assistance, despite their ability to afford it. Justice shouldn’t be reserved only to those who can pay for it, and even one case can make a difference to a family who needs representation.
Where do you see the Impact civil legal services in the next ten years?
The pandemic will have a ripple effect on people for many years. Many things have changed in the workforce, and that in turn will increase the stress and strain of many underserved communities. Additionally, the wealth gap will surely widen, so there will be those who can afford legal services and those who cannot. Therefore, no-cost services of MVLS and other pro bono agencies will be in even greater demand, and at that point, more than ever, justice might very well depend on those who have legal representation.