Constance (Connie) Hare is a remarkable volunteer attorney with MVLS. She began volunteering in 1995, primarily taking bankruptcy cases. She has taken cases nearly every year since then, often many per year, for a total of 203 cases! Some of those cases have been particularly difficult.
Connie is a regular with our Bankruptcy Bypass clinic. Even during the one year she lived in Spain, she still assisted with every Bankruptcy Bypass clinic we held that year.
Clients rave about Connie because she is thoughtful and compassionate. Connie has also served as a mentor to numerous new attorneys and is a fabulous promoter of our organization. Read below to find out why pro bono is important to Connie.
Why do you choose to volunteer with MVLS?
When I was a young legal secretary, I was very fortunate to work for two attorneys who not only encouraged me to go back to get my undergraduate degree and then continue to law school but paid all of my tuition and expenses, provided time off when needed, and basically treated me as a partner before I even took the bar. When I graduated and became a partner of the firm within six months, I thought it only fair that I give back to those who needed my assistance. I just wanted to pay it forward.
Do you have any stand out stories?
While not really a “legal” story, one of my favorite MVLS stories is about how Baltimore really is a small town. Early in my legal career, a new MVLS client came to the office to meet with me to discuss filing a bankruptcy case. My dog, Dutchess, who was adopted from the SPCA four years earlier, came to work with me everyday. When my client arrived, Dutchess left my office to venture into our reception area to greet her. A few minutes later, when I joined them, Dutchess was on my client’s lap and covering her with kisses. Apparently, my client was the owner of Dutchess’s mother and she had taken Dutchess to the SPCA where I adopted her. While it had been five years since their last time together, neither had forgotten the other. For the next nine years until Dutchess passed away, my MVLS client came to visit our office several times a year and brought Christmas treats for Dutchess and me every year. We have remained in contact ever since.
What is your favorite part about volunteering with MVLS?
Realizing that the work we do has an immediate impact on the lives of our clients, both financially and emotionally. In many instances, low income clients are forced to make a choice between paying a bill or buying needed food or medicine. They don’t understand their options, are afraid of the legal process, and feel like they have lost control of their own life. By helping them with a bankruptcy filing or providing advice through the By-Pass Clinic, they start to feel better about the process and can take control and make decisions based upon what is in their best interest.
Why should other attorneys do pro bono?
While I understand that we all have to make a living, providing pro bono services gives me the validation that I am doing a good job. Paying clients don’t always express their appreciation – they think paying their bill is sufficient – but pro bono clients express their gratitude in many ways. While providing the service may help the client, it also helps me by making me realize that what I do makes a difference.