Mara Block, LAF’s newly-appointed Director of Volunteer Services, works with our pro bono partners and helps extend the experience of helping our clients to the private bar and volunteer attorneys. When asked why she works at LAF, she said:
“My role here at LAF is a little different than most. Even though I came up through the ranks as a litigator at LAF’s Westside office in Lawndale, I now have only a little day-to-day contact with our clients. As LAF’s Director of Volunteer Services, my role is to engage private attorneys and the broader community involved in our clients’ cases and supporting LAF’s operations.
In its essence, I get to help people help people!
I loved directly representing our clients in court and administrative proceedings, and still love doing it when I get the chance, but I find it immensely satisfying to help others have that experience, too. I love the excitement and joy that our volunteers feel when they get a successful result for a client. I get to share that good result and hard work with the attorneys’ firms and partners, telling managing partners at law firms that their associate knocked it out of the park! It’s good for the attorneys, good for LAF and great for the low-income clients we serve. The added bonus is that I get to expose the private bar to LAF’s fabulous staff attorneys as the bulldog experts they are.
I am really proud of the work LAF has done over the past two years to evolve our Pro Bono Project into a well-respected and supportive place for volunteers. We have devoted valuable resources to make sure that volunteers have a good experience in the work they do with LAF and to ensure that clients get great representation to achieve their legal goals.”
As we wrap up 2013, you still have a few hours to make a tax-deductible contribution to LAF so we can continue to be there for those who need us most. This post also wraps up our “My Work Matters” series. Thank you for your support, and thanks to Mara, and everyone at LAF, for all you do!
Today we hear from Joann Villasenor, a supervisory attorney in our Children & Families Practice Group. Her work at LAF helps people start their lives over after abuse and tragedy:
“I like my work at LAF because I am able to help people who cannot afford to pay for private attorneys. The court system is intimidating and especially so if a person does not have an attorney. I represent victims of domestic violence in court to help them obtain orders of protection, custody orders, and divorces. Through my work, these victims obtain safety and financial security and they are able to start over, free from abusers.”
Miguel Keberlein Gutierrez is a supervisory attorney in our Immigrants and Workers’ Rights Practice Group, and is the director of the Illinois Migrant Legal Assistance Project (IMLAP). As the son of a Guatemalan immigrant, he understands the struggles that immigrants face while working in this country. We profiled Miguel almost a year ago, in our January 2013 eNewsletter, which you can still read here
. Read about his reasons for supporting LAF:
“Migrant farmworkers are some of the hardest working and most defenseless members of our society. These vulnerable workers often have no voice to defend themselves against financial exploitation, sexual abuse, human trafficking, exposure to dangerous chemicals, dangerous housing, and other workplace hazards. Justice for those who put food on our tables is a hallmark of a fair and free nation. LAF provides a voice for the nearly 75,000 farmworkers in Illinois who help feed a nation, and I am proud to be part of this effort.“
You can support these farmworkers too, by donating today. Thanks, Miguel!
Today we hear from Ainat Margalit. She is a staff attorney with our Consumer Practice Group. She keeps coming back to LAF because we’re a community of people helping people:
“I work at LAF because I can’t imagine NOT using my law degree as a last defense for a family facing homelessness or financial ruin, AND I get to work with others that feel the same way! It doesn’t feel like a job, it’s a privilege!”
Thanks, Ainat! It’s a privilege to have you with us here at LAF!
Today’s story is from Carrie Chapman, the Director of our Public Benefits Practice Group. She supports LAF because providing access to justice for all makes her feel like a patriot. Read more about Carrie here:
“I work here because I love our country. One of the things that makes us great is our strong and fair system of civil justice. But that system of justice only works if everyone, rich or poor, has meaningful access. My colleagues and I work tirelessly to see that our civil system lives up to its full potential and that no one is barred from the rights and freedoms it protects.“
Lizzie Rosenthal, a supervisory attorney in our Housing Practice Group knows why she works at LAF. She doesn’t pull any punches in explaining how much our clients need us:
“I work at LAF because low-income tenants get evicted after a “trial” that lasts three minutes if they don’t have an attorney.“
You too can give our clients a fighting chance in court, by donating here.