Volunteer Spotlight: Pamela Ross, Jr.
70-80% of family law litigants in Alameda County are unrepresented. The majority of those are also lower income. Legal Access Alameda (formerly VLSC) is the only legal organization in Alameda County, besides the court, to offer pro bono family law services where there is no domestic violence involved. There is an incredible demand for family legal assistance and Legal Access Alameda sees the unfilled need at its various family law clinics that consistently have long waiting lists and at its monthly Saturday clinic, where on average 40% of clients present with family law issues. Legal Access Alameda needs more experienced family law attorneys to volunteer for its general Family Law clinics in Oakland.
Pamela Ross, CEO/Managing Attorney of All for the Family Legal Clinic, Inc., is a long time Legal Access Alameda volunteer and legal services advocate, the 2015 Volunteer of the Year, dedicated member of the ACBA Board of Directors and current board liaison to the ACBA Family Law section. In this time of immense need for more family law volunteers, we asked Pam about why she volunteers and why helping with family law matters is so important.
How did you start volunteering with Legal Access Alameda?
Around 2012, I signed up for the Day of Court training to assist pro pers with their orders. Then in 2013, I hired a second attorney for our clinic about the same time that Legal Access Alameda was doing their volunteer boot camp training that was cosponsored with Bay Area Legal Aid at the time. Since she was new to family law, I asked her to do the bootcamp and I did it as well.
How long have you been volunteering with Legal Access Alameda?
Why do you volunteer with Legal Access Alameda?
Even though I give back to the community everyday working for All for the Family Legal Clinic, Inc., that is my day job, I feel like every attorney should donate some of their free time to the community to fill the need for moderate means and low income families. Certain volunteer opportunities are a win-win. For example, when you are a newer attorney it gives you face time with judges to do Day of Court while allowing you to learn things at the same time you are helping the court and/or the individual families.
Why do you like working in family law?
Family law is bittersweet. It is emotionally draining at times, but it is so rewarding to see how your work impacts the day to day lives of the clients.
Why is it important to volunteer to help people with their family law matters?
So many pro pers have no idea what they are supposed to be doing. Many think that after filing their Petition six months later they are magically divorced. Volunteering is important so that they are educated on their rights. This is especially true since Self Help has some limits to the types of assets that the person can have and still get assistance with their paperwork.
It is my personal goal that every attorney in Alameda County that I come in contact with dedicate 4 hours a year giving back to the community, whether that is through Legal Access Alameda or otherwise. If you can’t find the time – then donate to community organizations.
If you are interested in being a Legal Access Alameda family law volunteer, please contact Amarilis Medrano at firstname.lastname@example.org.