Students Partnering with Attorneys from Spokane County Bar’s Volunteer Lawyers Program
Family law practice is one of the highest demand areas of law, and lawyers that volunteer their time through the Spokane County Bar Association’s Volunteer Lawyers Program address hundreds of cases a year. The new Gonzaga University School of Law FLASH program will be giving these pro bono lawyers a helping hand while providing law students a chance to get hands-on training and experience in an oft-overlooked area of law.
Filling The Gaps in Family Law
Family Law Attorney Student Help (FLASH) is a pilot program launched this year by Gonzaga Law’s Center for Law In Public Service (CLIPS). The FLASH program is designed to benefit the community by increasing support for and the availability of free family law assistance.
“Thinking back to my childhood, although it was complicated I feel very fortunate to have escaped any detrimental trauma stemming from issues like divorce, child custody, blended families, adopted siblings, and the like. There is an infinite number of adults and children in our community that are not as fortunate, and there is an overwhelming need to help these people.” Explained Amber Rush, a 2L student who has helped extensively with the creation of FLASH.
“Pro bono family law work is an essential and under supported area of the law, and this program is devoted to serving that unfulfilled need.”
Gaining Hands-On Family Law Experience
The program will also benefit students by providing a chance to receive specialized training while working directly with family law cases that will almost certainly have an immediate impact in the community.
“I am excited for the opportunity to lead a FLASH training program for the student volunteers who will be working with pro bono attorneys at the VLP clinics. These pro bono clinics provide an invaluable service to the community that provides numerous individuals with assistance that they are unable to find elsewhere,” explains attorney and volunteer FLASH trainer Matt Fischer.
“This program will not only be of value to the community, but to the law students as well. It will allow these volunteers to see first-hand how family law practitioners interview and discuss legal matter with clients. My greatest hope is that the program will instill a desire for these students to continue volunteering after they graduate law school.”
Long-Term Benefits For Students and Community
“These students’ commitment to increasing access to justice so early in their legal careers positions them well as they complete law school and transition into the practice of law.” explained Catherine Brown, director of Gonzaga Law’s CLIPS program.
Twelve students have already committed to the FLASH program, and students will begin their work with Spokane attorneys on family law cases in the next few weeks.
For Amber Rush, the program has already made a deep impact. “Family law is rewarding and fulfilling work for those who can handleit. My experiences with the FLASH program have been the most rewarding and worthwhile endeavors that I have embarked on during my law school career.”
Students that wish to attend training sessions and volunteer for FLASH should contact Catherine Brown, Assistant Director of the Center for Law in Public Service.
Individuals in need of legal assistance from the Volunteer Lawyers Program should apply through the Northwest Justice Project’s centralized intake and referral service, CLEAR, available at http://nwjustice.org/get-legal-help .