“Our Job is About Telling the Truth.”

DSC_3551On Friday, June 13, 2013 at our Annual Luncheon, LAF presented the Jerold S. Solovy Equal Justice Award to Miriam Hallbauer, our Senior Attorney for Complex Litigation.  This award is given annually to one attorney on LAF’s staff whose work embodies what it means to be a poverty lawyer.  We are so proud of Miriam, and can’t think of anyone more deserving of this honor.  The photo here is Miriam accepting her award from her coworker Jennifer Payne.

Read her speech below, and we think you’ll understand how important Miriam is to our work at LAF:

Thank you.  I am grateful to LAF, and to Jenner and Block for establishing this award in Jerold Solovy’s honor.  And thank you, Jennifer for that very kind introduction.

I think everyone at LAF, inevitably, takes on a fraction of the anxiety our clients live with every day.  And even that small fraction takes its toll. Many people have asked me over the years, why I do this work.  It’s not because I love the legal issues.  I do it because I love LAF. I love being part of a community that fights to make our society less segregated, more inclusive, more humane, more safe, more fair.

But more fundamentally, I love that our job is about telling the truth.  It’s about facing reality, the reality of our clients’ lives, and trying to understand and convey that reality to those who otherwise, would not get it.  We can’t just do that for our clients, we have to do it with them.

I love that our work can prevent the truth from being lost in a system that would otherwise have no place for it; that we won’t let justice be just a commodity that only some can afford; that we are here to make sure right and wrong cannot be bought, that truth cannot be bought. 

And I love my colleagues, who do this work every day: questioning and listening, critically, skeptically, compassionately, tenaciously to get what is really going on. Who go to every kind of court or court-like venue, from dingy hearing rooms to gleaming federal courthouses, and when our clients’ names are called, they do what, to me, is the really hard part: they stand up. For our clients, and with them. 

I am grateful that I can be part of what LAF is and does.  Thank you.

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