Issue: February, 2009
Author: Amanda K. Roberts
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One Attorney's Personal Story
Back in 2001, my marriage was falling apart. My income was below the poverty level and I simply could not afford to hire an attorney. My spouse, on the other hand, had the financial support of his family and hired an attorney to obtain custody of our son. I was terrified at the thought that I would lose custody of my child simply because I could not afford representation. I did not know where to turn.
During this time, I was working for child support enforcement and had confided in the agency’s attorney, Jodie Thompson, about my situation. Without hesitation, Jodie graciously offered to handle my divorce without compensation. I cannot express the relief I felt knowing that I would have a voice in court and that I would be on equal footing with my soon-to-be-ex-husband.
Jodie’s kindness did not stop there. I was unsure of what life had in store for me after the divorce and I didn’t know how I would support my family. Jodie encouraged me to apply for law school and wrote an amazing letter of recommendation for me. She also talked to other community members about potential scholarships for law school and provided letters of recommendations for those applications as well. She continued to check up on me during school to make sure I was succeeding.
With Jodie’s help and encouragement, I made it through law school, which has changed my life for the better in many, many ways. I will be forever grateful for her willingness to make sure I was represented well in court - a very scary process for those unfamiliar with the system. Her kindness and generosity will not be forgotten.
Now that I am a practicing attorney, I understand just how difficult it can be to provide pro bono legal services. Concerns about malpractice claims/insurance, client control problems, time constraints, and a number of other legitimate reasons often create barriers to taking on these types of cases. While these concerns are not to be discarded lightly, pro bono legal work is an important service we should all strive to provide to Wyoming’s citizens whenever possible. You just never know how your contribution, no matter how big or small, will impact your pro bono client’s life.
Amanda Roberts earned a B.A. in administration of justice from the University of Wyoming in 1998. She earned a J.D. from the University of Wyoming College of Law in 2005, graduating with honors. She served as a staff attorney for Hon. E. James Burke of the Wyoming Supreme Court from 2005-2007 and is currently an associate for Lonabaugh and Riggs, LLP in Sheridan, Wyoming. Amanda also serves as a member of Wyoming’s Access to Justice Task Force.
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