“Leveling the Playing Field” Top 4 Volunteer Attorneys Donate Over 2,100 Hours

Four women from very different walks of life met at the Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law to give back to their local community. Imbued with a mutual spirit of service and compelled by an interest in family law, volunteer attorneys Karen Rosin, Holly Leonard, Nora Kavner and Mercy Fresno (pictured from left to right), collectively dedicated over 2,100 hours of legal services to the Center, propelling the total number of volunteer hours to 16,000 in 2012.

When Holly, a former district attorney, decided to return to practicing law, she was urged by friends to volunteer at the Center. She began on a limited basis, but, as she emphatically says, “was so captivated by the passion and impressed with the work that the staff and volunteers do” that she spends several days a week at the Center. She recalled one client, who was a victim of domestic violence, telling her that his time as a client of the Center was “the best four months of his life.” She knew then she had come upon a very unique and special place. Mercy, a retired attorney and one of the Center’s longest-enrolled volunteers, said that she continues to volunteer at the Center for over two decades because it is “such a responsive organization. The staff really listens to and counsels clients well.” Reiterating their sentiments, Karen said “Clients who come to the Center are facing dreadful obstacles that seem insurmountable, but while at the Center they are treated with dignity and respect. It really levels the playing field.”

At the Center, the volunteers benefit just as much as the clients. “The work really takes you out of yourself,” said Holly, as she expressed the deep emotional fulfillment she gets when she volunteers. Karen, who took a break from practicing law in the entertainment industry to raise her family, found that the Center was a great place to transition back into practicing law. She also discovered that family law has many layers. “It is quite nuanced,” continued Karen, “and while at the Center you really understand that there is a huge need for a place like this. It really is a tremendous joy to work here.”

Nora, who practiced entertainment law for years, found herself so drawn to family law that she began volunteering with the Center to make a career change. Nora stressed that her daughter’s decision to attend law school was because she was “so inspired by the work that Nora does at the Center.” All four agreed that for individuals and families who desperately need free family law assistance, the Center is the only place they can find relief. “After all,” Nora said, “the Center truly is an oasis in the desert.”