VLSP Recognizes Exceptional Eviction Defense Volunteer
Thursday, June 03, 2004
- Organization: VLSP
Volunteer of the Month Eviction Defense
Her pro bono clients don't go in a separate pile or have a different color folder. VLSP volunteer Jessica Chylik fits these cases seamlessly into her regular workload. Chylik, who volunteers 10 to 15 hours per month, encourages attorneys who feel they might not have the time for pro bono to adopt this approach. Make them a part of your workload and you'll be surprised at how much you can do, advises Chylik.
Chylik has worked on numerous cases for the Eviction Prevention Project and says she finds them extremely rewarding considering the high cost of living and rate of homelessness in San Francisco.
"The clients are worried about living on the streets," said the Golden Gate Law School graduate. "It is a very real threat. People can see themselves on their way to being homeless."
Her current case demonstrates how important this kind of work can be to a client who otherwise would not have access to legal representation. The client, a disabled man, was served with an unlawful detainer in an illegal sublet. When the landlord found out the tenant had legal representation, he had the case dismissed.
"Without VLSP these folks would not function, they are simply unable to do it," said Chylik. "It is an example of excellent service matching. The landlords would run over everyone if people did not have access to legal aid. Because rent is so high, people don't have extra money for an attorney."
In addition to her one-on-one work with clients, Chylik volunteers once a month at VLSP's Legal Advice and Referral Clinic (LARC) where she provides brief legal service for drop-in clients in a variety of legal areas.
Chylik says she knows a little bit about a lot of different parts of the law and feels well equipped to help people with minor problems or give a referral for bigger ones.
"It is usually information you have at the tip of your fingers as an attorney, but for the average person is very helpful," said Chylik. "A lot of people at LARC just need to know where they stand. I've read a copyright letter to a Russian immigrant through an interpreter and looked at a vocational school contract to see if the client could receive a refund when he decided not to attend."
Whether it is a subsequent referral, an affirmative case, or a happy ending, Chylik says that the rewards are high for pro bono work. Over the past five years, Chylik has helped dozens of people by treating all of her pro bono cases with the same amount of care as her regular clients.
For more information on the Eviction Prevention Project or LARC, please contact Amanda Chavez or call her at (415) 782-8956 for more information.