We are proud to honor VLSC Volunteer of the Year Stephanie Vollmer at Justice for All: Celebrating Pro Bono
Stephanie Vollmer became a VLSC volunteer in December 2016, starting on the Guardianship clinic panel, then joining the Low-Income Landlord roster and finally CLASP. Stephanie has been a CLASP volunteer since its inception in February 2017, filling the role of superstar level support, volunteering for everything and always asking “what else can I do?”
In 2017 she volunteered 79.25 pro bono hours, at 26 clinics! Learn more about volunteer opportunities on the new VLSC website.
Stephanie will be honored at the Volunteer Legal Services Corporation’s annual major fundraiser Justice for All: Celebrating Pro Bono on May 17th. Check out more details here.
How did you get involved in VLSC?
I was thrilled when I passed the bar exam in 2016, and I was eager to start working as a lawyer as soon as possible. But I found myself up against the challenge of entering the profession non-traditionally – as my second career; later in my life; while still building my legal resume. I knew I wanted to use my skill set to give back to the community, and VLSC’s opportunities were a way to jump in immediately and begin working as an attorney. Which is exactly what I did. Early on, the volunteer work became deeply meaningful to me; now, it will always be a cornerstone of my practice.
Tell us about your volunteer experience
There are many things I love about volunteering with VLSC: First, the staff at both ACBA and VLSC, especially Tiela Chalmers and Christina Wiellette, do a phenomenal job of creating avenues of free legal resources and services for our community. Without their expertise and enthusiasm, we would not have the thriving clinics that we do.
There’s also the care that VLSC has taken in shaping its volunteer opportunities. VLSC brings more volunteers to the table through its structure. By offering clinics, VLSC enables small firms and solo practitioners to volunteer easily – without accepting full, pro bono representations that may be prohibitively expensive or too time-consuming for smaller offices.
Additionally, VLSC provides professional legal training for clinic volunteers, including online resources, manuals, and in-person seminars. Each clinic is staffed by an experienced, supervising attorney who oversees and assists the volunteers. Volunteers can take comfort in knowing that the information they share with self-represented litigants is legally sound and resolution-directed.
There’s also the camaraderie among VLSC volunteers. The people you meet and work alongside in these clinics represent some of the best qualities of the legal profession: deep knowledge; a sense of fairness; the desire to help; a belief in the rule of law and its reach; a motivation to encourage others to fight for their rights, and the unwillingness to rest easy amid injustice.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly: the courage of those who come to the clinics seeking legal assistance. It is true that you hear many heartbreaking stories as a volunteer. Understandably so. You sit with others who are vulnerable and frightened by legal situations that confuse and intimidate. But equally true is that the human heart is a strong and resilient thing. People in difficult circumstances hold up under incredible pressure. And they want to solve the problem before them if it can be solved. They may have put their last change in the parking meter; or, made three bus connections to arrive; or, risked losing their job to take time off – all to come to the clinic. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to work with these people and to collaborate in search of a legal resolution. Your presence as a volunteer says that you care; that you are listening; and, that you are there with them to gain a little ground in the ongoing fight for human rights that belong to all of us.
Why should people support VLSC?
Simply put: the more support VLSC receives – in volunteer hours, in fiscal or other donations – the more VLSC can do, the farther it can reach, in its mission to offer free, skilled legal services within our community.
You can make a difference!
Volunteers like Stephanie help your donation go even further! Make a donation today to help bring legal services to the most vulnerable in our community.