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The real reason I’m in law – and how it’s shaping what I do next.
When I first passed the bar and started working in a private firm back in 1991, my mentors pointed me in two directions: first, to juvenile delinquency court to provide indigent defense services to juveniles charged with crimes; and second, to the Clark County Volunteer Lawyers Program (CCVLP) to volunteer with their family law legal aid clinic. I was eager to get started on these two paths –– admittedly out of a little bit of self-interest –– and most certainly out of a strong desire to help out where I could.
What I found surpassed my wildest expectations.
I already knew that doing pro bono work was a great way to sharpen the skills of lawyering. Sitting with people who are perplexed by legal issues helped me become a better lawyer, and it also gave me empathy for people from all walks of life. I had been raised in a pretty run-of-the-mill home, so being able to be around people outside of my limited view was a huge part of me becoming the lawyer I am today.
As for my early indigent juvenile defense work, I was heartbroken by the situations I saw –– but so happy to be able to help. This truly awakened my sense of just how high the stakes of justice are for my community at large, and how community health and safety has to be for all members of our community, and not just the ones who know how to navigate the legal system.
The more I did this work, I realized that there was something deeper there for me.
I found that I hold a couple of unshakeable beliefs: first, that we all just want peace in our lives, and second, that everyone is entitled to equal justice under the law. For those of us most vulnerable, navigating systems can be fraught with anxiety. How on earth can people be expected to find peace when they are in the middle of a conflict, having to face an incomprehensible legal system, worried they will not be seen or treated fairly?
It started out with a simple desire to help. Now I see my work as a gateway to the law for the most vulnerable among us.
As a lawyer, I consider myself a technician of the law. I have specialized knowledge and insight that is unique. I can literally provide a gateway for people to be able to navigate the system — to be heard, to be able to understand how the system thinks, to learn how the law interacts with their lives and to help them put some perspective on how the legal system interprets their situation. I do believe this work positively impacts my entire community in a ripple of small, positive waves toward more peaceful and healthy families.
That's why I've kept on volunteering as a legal aid lawyer and community mediator all these years. And it's why I transitioned my practice from litigation to peacemaking – so more people can access legal services at the level of support they need, which allows more people to visualize healthy futures for themselves and their families.
My relationship with the law is ever-evolving – and I've got some exciting moves coming up next.
As I get ever-clearer on my purpose in life and how my relationship with the law plays into that, I'm excited to be expanding my services so more people can access the legal support they need. I will share them with you very soon, but in the meantime, I just want you to know: you deserve peace. You deserve justice. And you deserve someone to help you get it.
If you happen to live in Washington state, and want that person to be me, I'd be happy to help. Schedule an appointment today.
Hmmm. Now I'm really curious to hear what's next for you. Whatever it is, I'm sure it's awesome and you will rock at it.