In honor of National Pro Bono Month, we’re highlighting our donors and volunteers who make our work possible. We are grateful for your support, which helps VLSC match trained volunteer attorneys with low-income people in need of critical legal services—services that help them keep their families together, regain financial stability, and feel safe in their own homes. Thank you!
Patricia Gutierrez de Sunseri originally practiced law in her native Colombia. After coming to the US, she spent ten years on staff at the Superior Court of Alameda County. In 2013, Patricia opened her own Family Law practice. She is also a licensed real estate broker and is the Secretary of the ACBA Real Estate Section’s 2015 Executive Committee and an active volunteer. Patricia received a Wiley W. Manuel Certificate for Pro Bono Legal Service earlier this year in recognition of her volunteer work. We caught up with Patricia and asked her about her experience with VLSC.
Why do you volunteer with VLSC?
I learned about the ACBA while working at the Court and collaborating with VLSC volunteers at several clinics. I saw first-hand what an invaluable service the ACBA renders to the whole community and its members. Of course, I joined immediately after obtaining my California license and have volunteered as much as I can since September 2013. Volunteering not only keeps me up to date with the law and interpretation given by the local bench, but also gives me the satisfaction of helping people who otherwise would not have access to legal help.
Do you have a particularly memorable VLSC client or pro bono case?
It is a memorable moment every time a litigant tells me he or she was finally able to understand the process and how to access justice, or when they tell me I have made the language of the law comprehensible, even more so when they are monolingual Spanish speakers.
What other community activities are you involved in?
I am active with my church. Also, my husband and I, as real estate brokers, support various charitable and community events organized by local real estate groups.
What are you listening to on your iPod now?
Currently I am listening to Aaron Keyes’ “In the Living Room.”
What is one thing that you wished people knew about VLSC?
I wish people knew that VLSC not only gives back to their community through its volunteers, but also gives volunteers invaluable opportunity to increase their knowledge and experience in return.
Would you like to join Patricia and become a volunteer? Contact Christina Wiellette at (510) 302-2216 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or support pro bono legal services in Alameda County by donating online 24/7 on our website: https://www.acbanet.org/VLSC/Donate/.
This interview was originally published in the Fall 2015 edition of the Volunteer Legal Services Corporation's newsletter. To read the full newsletter, please click here.