All this week, the WSBA is joining others around the country during National Volunteer Week to recognize and celebrate the many invaluable volunteers who devote their time and expertise to carry out the WSBA mission of serving the public, ensuring the integrity of the legal profession, and championing justice.
National Volunteer Week is an opportunity to honor the impact of all those who do good in our communities, and inspire others to make a difference and improve the world. So every day this week, NWSidebar will publish new interviews with a few of our outstanding volunteers
For questions about volunteering with WSBA, please contact Volunteer Engagement Advisor, Paris Eriksen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What has been your proudest moment or favorite memory so far as a WSBA volunteer?
While the program has recently been sunset by the Washington Supreme Court, my proudest moments were serving as a liaison to the Limited License Legal Technician (LLLT) Board when I was District 8 governor. The LLLT program was a program that I understood intimately, for I had lived experience of being a pro se litigant with little to no resources, attempting to navigate our complicated family law court system. That role gave me the opportunity to be an advocate for access to justice in a meaningful way by helping to implement a program that had the goal and the potential to make some progress toward addressing our ever-increasing unmet civil legal needs, the impact of which for minority members of our community is grossly disproportionate to other communities. It was a wonderful experience to work with other WSBA volunteers who were creative and compassionate and committed to pushing innovative ways to deliver legal services.
Did you have any misconceptions about volunteering before you began this role and have they changed?
Absolutely. My biggest misconception was the belief that the WSBA was not in tune with the needs of its membership and the community. I thought that it was this massive, isolated body of regulation completely removed from the reality of practitioners and that surely the Board of Governors was this elite group of players that had too much time. I served on the Board from 2015–2017 and what I learned was that nothing could be further from the truth. Serving on the Board is intense. There is a lot of work: reading, communication outreach, training. I learned that like any law office, there is a force behind the faces, and that was the WSBA staff—tirelessly committed to the work of providing members with value, information, programming, and supporting the work of the Board.
What have you learned that you might not have if you had not volunteered? Has it changed your approach to practicing law?
I have learned that there are so many incredible resources that the WSBA offers to its members in an effort to ensure that we are able to provide quality legal services to the community. From the Practice Management Assistance Program to legal research options to free lunch CLEs that if taken will allow you to obtain all of your required reporting credits; wellness advice and attorney support; ethics hotline for questions; attorney and client referral programs like the Moderate Means Program; diversity and equity training and resources. I think what continues to remain a challenge for the WSBA is promoting in an effective way its value to members. Accessing many of these features was incredibly helpful to me when I practiced because using the programs was cost effective, and anywhere we can save costs and still provide quality services, that is a huge benefit to clients.
What have you found most inspiring among your fellow WSBA volunteers?
I have learned that all around this state we have so many brilliant, dedicated legal professionals making efforts every day in their own way to improve the practice of law and to improve their communities. It was reaffirming that one person can indeed make a difference. That our individual acts combined make our shared efforts magnified. This is why I find the WSBA Local Hero Awards so inspiring. Those awards seek to magnify and celebrate the actions of individuals doing incredible work every day without need or want for recognition, but just because it is what they can do to serve. That is inspiring.