At LAF, clients never play the sidekick. Just ask Rachel Zemke, Equal Justice Works Fellow and Attorney in LAF’s Consumer Practice Group. “Being a counselor and a partner is an important part of being a lawyer,” she says.
She interned with LAF during law school and noticed how many of LAF’s clients were women taking care of multiple generations of their family. “I felt like one of the most important things that we were doing was helping someone become stable—not just for them, but also for their children or their parents or their nieces and nephews or grandchildren that also rely on them,” says Rachel. “It’s a way to make an impact beyond just your relationship with that client.”
Now, through her two-year fellowship, she’s focusing on consumer legal issues facing survivors of domestic violence. “Domestic violence is about someone else taking away control. To be a good advocate for survivors, it’s important to view your role as providing information so they can take back control,” she explains. “It’s about empowering them to make their own choices.”
As part of the Consumer Practice Group, she concentrates on protecting income and clearing credit through services like bankruptcy, foreclosure defense on marital homes during divorce, and defending against debt collections—especially “coerced debt,” the common practice in which an abuser pressures someone to take out debt in their name.
“It’s nice to be able to sit at the intersection of consumer and family law, to learn about both and how they affect one another,” Rachel says. She often co-counsels with attorneys from LAF’s Children & Families Practice Group, which she considers to be great experience for a young attorney. “I like that we can work together as a team, and that we can provide such comprehensive services to our clients.”
Your support enables LAF to keep moving forward, so that attorneys like Rachel can empower more people to find stability for themselves and their families. Make your tax-deductible contribution for 2017 at www.lafchicago.org.