So, that’s that.

31 Jan

Except that it’s not.

Although I received my last paycheck as Manatt’s Pro Bono Director today, I know that a lifetime of pro bono-related payoffs yet awaits me. I may be done with the job, but I’m not done with the work.

Less than an hour before I turned in my keycard, I received a copy of a note from one of our youngest pro bono clients. She obtained legal permanent residence today. Her life is forever transformed — she’s safe from abuse, she has a new family through her guardians, and she has more safety and hope in America thanks to our work. All of us who worked on her case have been transformed as well, because we, too, were strengthened and inspired by the experience.

Thank you

Shortly before that note arrived, while I was doing my “final rounds,” another attorney who had handled a similar type of case a year or so ago told me the following story:

Long-time friends of my associate’s family had hosted a summer exchange student from Turkmenistan a few years back. The family and the student kept in touch and the student recently returned to the U.S. for another type of study-abroad program. When the former host family reunited with the student, she tearfully told them about some truly horrific abuse she had suffered in Turkmenistan at the hands of her father.

When my attorney heard the details, she recognized the fact pattern, knew that special laws protect immigrant minors in such instances, and understood that time was of the essence to help the child who would soon turn 18. My associate –following her instincts– swung into action and made all of the right calls (literally and figuratively) to get the child set up for pro bono intake. I fairly levitated toward the proverbial “Cloud 9” upon realizing that some of the pro bono seeds I planted clearly had taken root and likely would yield a rich crop of abundant justice for years to come.

<swoon>

I’m leaving behind a portfolio of ~450 active pro bono clients, every single one of whom is now being cared for and nurtured by some truly excellent professionals. I relish receiving case/victory updates, which likely will flow my way for years to come. In fact, I suspect I may manage to get my PhD before I get to hear that either of our death penalty cases has been resolved!

Regardless of when the case updates arrive, however, I know that each one will enrich me deeply. Indeed, pro bono really is the gift that keeps on giving!

For this reason, I will remain “ProBonoChick” both in the Twitterverse and in real life. I will continue to promote and provide pro bono service by remaining on the OneJustice board and on the State Bar’s Legal Services Trust Fund Commission and by maintaining at least one active pro bono file at all times (for now, that means I’ll continue to help my “adopted Jewish grandmother” in her effort to obtain a Holocaust survivor’s pension from Germany).

Just because I’m trying to become a scientist, doesn’t mean I’ll stop fighting for justice or that I’m giving up being a lawyer.

So for all you suckers who thought you were rid of me: Sorry! I’m not disappearing just yet.

And for those of you who still feel sad about this transition, feel free to transform your sadness into an act of charitable kindness by treating my unemployed-student-self to lunch, dinner, drinks, or whatever!  (In case you need inspiration: my new favorite place is Tapenade, right next door to Manatt: Their Mushroom Polenta comes from another dimension of awesomeness and they have a solid selection of draft beers –heavy on the Belgian side, woot!– + eclectic wines.  If you don’t want to take me, at least take yourself. You’ll thank me later!)

And if you’re totally neutral about all this, I still wouldn’t mind accepting your offer for a free meal or an exotic vacation if you just happen to feel like sharing!

* * *

I know this is probably NOT the blog post most of you were expecting. I’m sorry for that. I failed to appropriately calculate my time and energy demands today. Having my last day of employment followed almost immediately by a quiz in Statistics class tonight left me completely walloped, brain-drained, and emotionally bereft — to say the least.  I will gather my strength and wits and attempt to make up the difference with next week’s posting.

* * *

Parting Thought: All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another. — Anatole France

7 Responses to “So, that’s that.”

  1. Julia R. Wilson February 1, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

    We love you, Z/Pro Bono Chick/mama/F bomb dropped/challenging questioner/seeker/thought partner/Wonder Woman/rock star.

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