June 1, 2010
Dear DBA Members,
Hello from Vermont! I’ve been thinking of you all.
As you might remember, it’s easy to lose perspective in law school. After reading thousands of cases, the fact that these are real stories about real people is often overlooked. The human component of law is often lost in the facts, rules and analysis of a case. Over the past three years, I’ve been determined to remember that the human impact matters.
The best advice I received about law school was to "remember why you came here." And so I often think back to the years I spent with Metro Volunteer Lawyers. As a program assistant and legal services coordinator for the Family Law Court Program, I was able to work directly with clients and I loved it. But my capacity to help was limited because I wasn’t an attorney. I wanted to do more, so I decided to go to law school.
I went to Vermont Law School because of its emphasis on community service — Lex Pro Urbe et Orbe — "Law for the community and the world" is the school motto. During my 2L year, a peer named Lise Daniels — who was also an Albert Schweitzer Fellow — opened Mascoma Legal Resource Center in her rural New Hampshire community. The poverty level is high, and the closest legal clinic is more than an hour away. Because of my past experience with pro se clinics and understanding of limitations on legal services and advice by non-lawyers, she enlisted my help.
The Mascoma Legal Resource Center has been a welcomed addition to the community. We offer access to computers, the Internet, printers and a fax machine. More important, we offer access to resources that are otherwise available to the public but that are often confusing to navigate or inaccessible to those with limited resources. (Just to clarify, there is no unauthorized practice of law.) My own Albert Schweitzer Fellowship project has been to incorporate the center into a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and to work on fundraising to keep the Center open and continue to expand services in the future.
I’ll be taking the Bar exam this summer and can’t wait to get back to working with clients. I already know it won’t be glamorous. The work will often be thankless and range from intense to mundane. But I will remember why I wanted to be a lawyer. I will remember all the tears, the anguish, and the uncertainty of the clients who felt like their world was falling apart. And I will remember the immense gratitude they expressed because someone cared and helped when they had nowhere else to turn. I know, I’m just another idealistic law student. I have much to learn. I don’t plan on saving the world. But if I make it better even for a few, that matters.
My years with MVL were invaluable. I highly recommend involvement with MVL not only to fulfill pro bono requirements and qualify for CLE credits, but for the mentoring, courtroom experience and the opportunity to work on a case outside your primary area of practice. It’s something you can just feel good about. Besides, it never hurts to keep a little perspective.
Class of 2010
P.O. Box 150
1192 US Route 4, EI03
Canaan, NH 03741