5 Reasons to Volunteer at the Sojourn WLALA Domestic Violence Legal Clinic

By WLALA Domestic Violence/Sojourn Chair, Jill Piano

“Whatever the community organization, whether it’s a women’s organization, or fighting for racial justice, you will get satisfaction out of doing something to give back to the community that you never get in any other way.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Have you ever thought about volunteering at the Sojourn WLALA Legal Clinic for victims of domestic violence a few hours a month? If so, it’s now easier than ever, as we are conducting the clinic using Zoom; this makes it possible for you to volunteer for the clinic from your home or office. Most volunteers are not family law attorneys, the questions vary from issues related to domestic violence, landlord tenant, immigration, bankruptcy, employment, criminal, and other areas as well as simple procedural questions.  The answers are often just common sense and don’t require specialization.  There is staff present to offer backup and support. IT IS ONLY A 90-MINUTE COMMITMENT AND WE GIVE GENERAL ADVICE AND REFERRALS.

5 Reasons Why I Love Volunteering at the Sojourn WLALA Clinic

I have been a volunteer for over ten years and I want to share the five top reasons why I love the experience:

1. Time Commitment

Volunteering at the Sojourn Clinic could not be easier to fit into your schedule. The clinic only requires a maximum ninety-minute time commitment per month and a pinch hit when needed. You are not expected to take on cases for representation, as this is an advice only clinic.  There is NO homework involved outside the time of the scheduled clinic.  As the Clinic is now being held on ZOOM, you can volunteer from the comfort from your home or office.

2. Broadens Our Legal Experience

Volunteering at the Sojourn WLALA Legal Clinic allows me to provide information in areas I might not have considered since law school. This is re-energizing and provides me with an opportunity to brush up on different areas of the law. It also consistently gives me a different perspective on things and has helped me grow both personally and professionally.

3. Camaraderie

Volunteering also provides me with an opportunity to meet other lawyers and exchange ideas and perspectives. It’s an excellent way to build new relationships, strengthen existing ones, and develop my professional network. This can even lead to business development opportunities and referrals. Moreover, I can’t say enough about working with the Sojourn staff, Carol Tantau, Coordinator, Support Services Program, and Minty Siu-Kootnikoff. Legal Services Director, Sojourn. Their compassion and commitment in helping the clients is non-wavering. Also, if I have a question I have several people I can go to.

4. Providing Us with a Sense of Self-Fulfillment

Volunteering at the Clinic is also a fantastic way for me to give back to the community and genuinely help people. As lawyers, we often work with corporations and organizations, which is exciting; however, volunteering gives me an opportunity to help individuals experiencing financial hardship that otherwise have no access to legal services. I enjoy working directly with the clients. I have found that being a resource and listening to them makes a big difference in their lives. We share a message with the client that they are a valuable, worthy person with rights and a voice. Empowering clients changes their lives.  This works matters!  In addition, I love the immediate gratification that comes with working directly with clients in need.  As my day work ofttimes involve cases that take years to resolve, being able to give advice and guidance lets me immediately enjoy the client’s “lightbulb” moment.

5. Inspiration and Gratitude

The clients are inspiring and from all walks of life. I thought I would be helping them but they also help me. Their strength, bravery and resiliency inspire me. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to leave the cycle of abuse.  The clients become advocates for their own survival, and often for the survival of their children. Also, many clients never thought they would be in need of the Clinic, which is a reminder that anyone of us could find ourselves in their position. It is important, that we all look out for each other and give a helping hand.    

If you are interested, please call or email Me to volunteer:

Jill Piano, WLALA Chair of WLALA Sojourn Legal Clinic at jillpianoesq@gmail.com or 310-954-9377 if you’d like to volunteer. We’d love to hear from you.