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Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin - Winter 2013

Public Service Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year Megan Elder and Stephen Hudgens, staff attorney for the Birmingham Bar Volunteers Lawyer Program 2013 Pro Bono Award Winners Explain Why They Volunteer Megan Elder Solo Practitioner 2013 Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year Megan Elder consistently volunteers at least twice a month at both the Domestic Relations and District Court Help Desks with the Birmingham Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program. She has documented more than 65 hours of Pro Bono service, helped more than 75 clients, and taken five extended representation cases thus far in 2013. How long have you volunteered? I started volunteering soon after the Birmingham Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program started the Help Desk at Domestic Relations Court eighteen months ago. I thought this would be a good way for me to learn Family Law while helping those in need. Why do you volunteer? It’s rewarding. Most of the people who come to the Help Desk need only small fixes like filing a form. To an attorney, it really seems simple, but it is a big deal to someone who cannot afford a lawyer but needs help. When I come into contact with a Pro Se litigant who needs more help, I often volunteer to take their case for extended representation. At first I did it because as a new attorney, it was a huge learning experience. But now I do it because I believe in Karma. By helping these people, I know that someday if I need it, someone will be there for me. What is your most memorable volunteering experience? Because I volunteer a lot, I get clients asking for me. Because they are self-represented they will often come to the Help Desk several Wednesdays in a row until they obtain resolution to their legal issue. However, the best part is seeing the look on their faces when I tell them that I have decided to take on their case. I’ve only had one person cry, but I love seeing the sincere and surprised look on their face. What advice can you give attorneys thinking about volunteering with the Birmingham Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program? For new attorneys, the program lets you learn the ropes of family law while networking and getting to know other attorneys that have been doing this a lot longer. If I have questions, I usually save them until Wednesday because I know that I will be able to track down someone at the Help Desk who knows the answer. For practicing attorneys, volunteering is simply rewarding. I find that it reminds me of why I wanted to be an attorney in the first place: to make a difference. Elizabeth Zwiebel The Zwiebel Law Firm 2013 Pro Bono Small Law Firm of the Year Elizabeth Zwiebel, the managing partner of the Zwiebel Law Firm, has helped more than 130 clients at the Domestic Relations Help Desk since it opened a year-and-a-half ago and has accepted seven cases through the Birming- 32 Birmingham Bar Association


Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin - Winter 2013
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