For many of our neighbors, facing a legal problem with limited resources or practical knowledge can be stressful and downright frightening. At Ask a Lawyer on Oct. 13, more than 100 IndyBar paralegal and attorney volunteers stepped out of their offices and into sites across Indy to provide meaningful advice and assistance to 596 Hoosiers.
Planned by the IndyBar Pro Bono Standing Committee and funded through IBF grants, Ask a Lawyer is the IndyBar’s largest pro bono event, taking place twice each year in April and October. If you are interested in volunteering for Ask a Lawyer or if you’d like more information on Ask a Lawyer or other IndyBar pro bono offerings, contact Caren Chopp at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael Wilhelm of DeFur Voran LLP (middle) assists a member of the community with a legal question alongside a law student volunteer (right).
John Egloff, Riley Bennett & Egloff LLP, held down the fort at the IndyBar office as he answered phone calls for the Ask a Lawyer event.
“THE BEST LAWYER”
Even the most seasoned volunteer can lose sight of the true impact he or she makes. Site Coordinator Kate Marshall of State Farm Litigation Counsel took a moment to recognize the special work she witnessed at Ask a Lawyer in an email to attorney volunteers at the Brightwood Library location (reprinted with permission).
“I’ve been volunteering in one form or another since I was 12 years old. For some of you, that means that I’ve been volunteering longer than you’ve been alive. So, what I say next I say with the weight of a lifetime of volunteer experiences behind me: You all were the finest group of volunteers I have ever had the chance to work with.
Every single one of you came in, rolled up your sleeves and did some serious mental flexing. The kindness and compassion shown by all of you to all of our clients was amazing. There are so many examples of how each of you really made a difference in the lives of the 25 people that came by our site yesterday afternoon.
IndyBar Paralegal Committee Chair Julia Kleinschmidt, Bose McKinney & Evans LLP, served as an Ask a Lawyer site coordinator at the Glendale library location.
Here are just a very few observations:
Jamie: First: I wish I had your calm demeanor. Second: you soothed the one person I thought was going to burst into tears yesterday. She left with solid information on what to do next and with a bright and steady smile on her face.
Wes: Not only were you amazing with all of the financial questions, but our last client of the day was so relieved when you explained how life insurance companies and banks work.
Greg: I don’t think it was a happy resolution (because of the fact set), but at least the young man with the extremely complex criminal question has better information. And you had the only Ashley Madison case! I really expected a few more questions about that website.
Matt: I lost count of how many people I sent to your table, but I remember that the first woman was so happy with your answers that she didn’t want to leave. And Edwin ‘means rich friend in Welsh’ came back and asked for you.
John: Your patience with the numerous people who had ‘odd’ questions was simply amazing. I don’t know if you could tell, but I was sending you the people that looked like they could use cheering up. Every single one of them walked out the door with a spring in their step.
George: One of the many young ladies you helped yesterday said she didn’t just get her question answered, but wanted the IndyBar to know that she got her questioned answered “BY THE BEST LAWYER.” She wrote that on her survey after speaking with you.”