Volunteer

Meet Our Volunteers



Andrew Doyle (Senior Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice)

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"Being a lawyer makes it so easy to help people. It's just remarkable," says Andrew Doyle, a regulatory lawyer with the U.S. Department of Justice.* One of the Pro Bono Center's most dedicated volunteers, Andy has spent more than fifty Saturdays meeting clients at our monthly Advice & Referral Clinic since 2010. What keeps him coming back? "My day job is working for the greater good, so I like to remember what it's like to help one person at a time."

Visitors to the Advice & Referral Clinic may meet one-on-one with a volunteer lawyer to discuss any individual civil legal issue governed by D.C. or federal law. Andy has answered questions from clients about creditors, insurance, landlord/tenant matters, construction disputes, child custody, and probate. 

"The best sessions are when you get surprised by a hug or tears of gratitude. I remember one woman who came with questions about the administration of a relative's estate. She was still so distraught about her relative's death, and it had taken so much for her to get to the clinic, emotionally and logistically. At first, she was very quiet. Then, at one point, she burst into tears. She was grateful to me for helping her, but she was also so proud of herself for getting there."

What would Andy say to other D.C. Bar members considering pro bono service? "Once you get started, you'll wonder what took you so long! As lawyers, we get so immersed in our structure that we forget we have the ability to connect with people in the city who need us."

*Federal government attorneys volunteer only in their individual capacities.


John D. McGrane (Partner, Morgan, Lewis and Bockius LLP)

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"In 2013, the Probate Resource Center staff approached Morgan Lewis about supporting one of its weekly walk-in sessions," says John D. McGrane, a partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP. "[The firm] readily agreed to staff one session a month with 3-4 attorneys, and shortly thereafter, I got involved. I continue to help staff the weekly sessions 4-5 times a year."

What keeps bringing John back to the Probate Resource Center? "The experience is very rewarding," he says. "Those coming for help have a wide variety of situations and needs. I have worked with people whose parent or sibling has recently passed away, and at this difficult time they are trying to determine how to deal with homes, bank accounts, and other assets, along with various creditors and on occasion, other relatives. In every case, there is a real need for resolution of the issues. And, most rewarding is the sincere appreciation from the customers for the help provided by the Probate Resource Center -- for making sense out of a confusing process."


Annette K. Kwok (Associate, Venable LLP)

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"Volunteering as a pro bono attorney at the Immigration Legal Advice & Referral Clinic has been incredibly rewarding," says Annette K. Kwok, an associate at Venable LLP and past president of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of the Greater Washington, D.C. Area, Inc. (APABA-DC).

Annette has volunteered at the clinic with APABA-DC for nine years. "I'm an immigrant myself and, first and foremost, I feel very connected with the District's immigrant community," she says. "The ability to impart my experience in my interactions with clients is what makes pro bono meaningful. Sometimes, working at a big law firm, you forget what it's like for people desperately in need of legal help. And clients with immigration concerns especially, are scared right now and skeptical about coming forth and exposing themselves."

What does Annette suggest to D.C. Bar members considering pro bono service? "As lawyers, we have to do our best to help our community. Pro bono work inspires me to be more compassionate and grateful for what I have and motivates me to do more for those who are less fortunate."

Read more about Annette's pro bono experience in the November issue of Washington Lawyer magazine.


Rebecca J. Michael (Counsel, Arnold & Porter LLP)

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"Arnold & Porter LLP has had a long relationship with the Landlord Tenant Resource Center," says Rebecca J. Michael, counsel at the firm and a dedicated volunteer with the Resource Center. "After attending a training session, I knew I wanted to participate."

"The volunteer work at the Landlord Tenant Resource Center helps transform the lives of its customers," she says. "Many of the Resource Center's customers are facing dire circumstances, and they really need someone to listen and help them understand and navigate the rules, regulations, and requirements [of Landlord Tenant Court]. I have helped draft documents that have halted a wrongful eviction and imminent homelessness of a tenant; allowed a disabled veteran to stay off the street; and enabled a young, single mother to tuck her kids in bed at home for another night. I have also helped draft documents to expedite securing working heat, air conditioning, plumbing, and appliances for some of the most vulnerable citizens in D.C."

Rebecca highly recommends that attorneys get involved in pro bono work: "It is a great way to make a difference in someone else's life on important issues and has tremendous personal, professional, and social benefits for attorneys, too. It is especially easy and rewarding for attorneys to volunteer at the Landlord Tenant Resource Center. No experience is necessary, the support network is unparalleled, the time commitment is fixed, and all your work is completed before you leave at the end of your day there."