Receiving the OLSPIF stipend blessed me with the opportunity to work with a non-profit organization in my hometown, serving victims of domestic violence.
Eastside Legal Assistance Program (ELAP) serves low-income residents of King County, WA. The services at Eastside Legal Assistance Program take two forms. The first of these, the pro bono clinics, provide clients with 30 – 45 minute appointments with an attorney, which they could otherwise not afford. The second is the services of the domestic violence staff attorneys at the ELAP office. I was involved in both of these areas.
In relation to the clinics, my responsibilities included answering phones and speaking directly with clients, qualifying them for ELAP’s services, and scheduling them in the various clinics. I also worked at the clinics as a coordinator, directing both clients and attorneys to their appointments.
However, my primary responsibilities involved working directly with the two ELAP DV Staff Attorneys on civil protection order and divorce cases. I had the privilege to sit in meetings with the clients and attorneys, draft documents for client cases, build files, and observe court hearings at the King County Superior Courthouse. During my time with ELAP, I became very familiar with Washington statutes and the administrative code. I gained a full understanding of divorce and domestic violence protection order cases as I was able to follow clients from the very first phone call to the signing of temporary orders.
The mentorship of the attorneys was invaluable, and the atmosphere was incredibly welcoming. I was able to witness the difference we were making in our clients’ lives as they walked out of the court room with looks of relief and gratitude on their faces. One of the more touching moments of my summer was when we received a photo from a client of her newborn baby girl, and thanking us for all the help she received, which allowed her to live safely with her two children.
The OLSPIF stipend not only gave me the opportunity to work with an amazing non-profit organization, but also helped those clients whom I was so blessed to serve.