We’re proud to recognize Monica Basche as the Volunteer of the Month. Read on to learn more about Monica and her experience as an MVLS volunteer.
Why do you choose to volunteer with MVLS?
I volunteer with the Consumer Protection Project Clinic in the Baltimore City District Court, which provides legal services to those who need assistance with defending, negotiating, settling common debt collection cases, including debt buyers, medical debt, and auto loans. I chose to volunteer with the CPP because I didn’t have the capacity to take on an individual case, but I still wanted to find a way to help those in need of legal services. Debt collection cases are common, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and they are often an individual’s first interaction with the court. Volunteering with the CPP allows me to help people understand the process and their options and how to make an informed decision on how they want to proceed.
Are there any recent cases that you’re proud of? Tell us more about what happened, or about what you learned.
We help lots of people in the CPP clinic, so it’s really hard to pick just one. However, I distinctly remember one of my first cases, which involved a mother who had cosigned on her son’s credit card that he got through his veterinarian to pay for his dog’s cancer treatment. It was her first time in court, and she was very nervous about the process. I explained her options to her, and then negotiated a workable payment plan with the debt buyer. Although I wasn’t able to get rid of her debt, I was able to help her find a way to make it manageable and to alleviate some of the stress of the situation.
How does volunteering with MVLS impact you (personally, professionally, or both)?
Personally, I think it’s important to use my legal knowledge and skill to minimize the potentially harmful impact that the legal system can have on those who come in contact with it, and MVLS is a way of doing just that because it offers assistance to those who are most vulnerable. On a professional level, volunteering has helped me to understand a new area of the law, learn client interviewing and listening skills, and speak with confidence when I’m before the court.
What would you say to others who are considering volunteering with or supporting MVLS?
Just do it! MVLS has so many different ways for you to get involved. Not only will you get personal satisfaction out of helping those in need of legal services, but you will grow professionally by taking on cases in new and different areas of the law.
How would you explain the impact of your pro bono work to someone who isn’t familiar with MVLS?
You really just have to do pro bono work to understand how impactful it is. The clients are so appreciative for your time and assistance. It’s like you can see a weight being lifted off their shoulders.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
If you’re looking for a way to volunteer with MVLS but don’t have the capacity to take on an individual case, please consider volunteering for the CPP clinic.