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Tracy Barrett, CORP Volunteer of the Month

Friday, October 29, 2004

  • By: Rachel Fretz
  • Organization: VLSP

Tracy Barrett, CORP Volunteer of the Month
A Truly Well-Rounded Attorney

The Community Organization Representation Project (CORP) is pleased to recognize Tracy Barrett for her dedication to providing legal assistance to Bay Area nonprofits. In less than a year, through CORP, Tracy has helped eight nonprofits meet the needs of low-income communities with a tireless enthusiasm that belies countless hours of pro bono service.

Tracy is not one to shy away from causes she believes are underrepresented. "I take it upon myself to seek out volunteer opportunities," she says, "I'm a pretty traditional transactional lawyer, but there's more than helping a company's bottom line."

CORP, a project of the Volunteer Legal Services Program (VLSP), provides critical legal services to nonprofit community organizations that serve low-income communities by matching these organizations with volunteer transactional attorneys, including solo practitioners and attorneys at law firms and corporate legal departments. In 2003, over 270 of CORP's volunteer attorneys provided almost 4,000 hours of free legal assistance to 140 community organizations in the Bay Area.

Tracy started her legal career as a litigator in Boston. After moving to the Bay Area in the mid-1990s, she volunteered for VLSP's Family Law Project. "The San Francisco legal community was incredibly supportive of pro bono work," she says, "Through the [Bar Association of San Francisco's] Barristers Club, I was able to meet new people from different disciplines, which inspired me to get involved."

Since moving to the Bay Area, Tracy transitioned her practice from litigation to corporate work and in 2004, began volunteering for CORP. Tracy recently started her own law practice, focusing on telecommunications, technology, corporate and real estate law.

"One of the amazing things about Tracy is that in the relatively short time she's been a volunteer for CORP, she has jumped in and taken on many different projects," says CORP Supervising Attorney Haydee Alfonso. "I think the most valuable quality that she brings to an organization is that she doesn't provide legal advice in a vacuum. She first evaluates the organization-its culture and its goals-then analyzes the issue and offers sound legal advice based on this context. She has a great legal mind, but is also very practical."

Tracy acknowledges that limited resources can hinder a nonprofit's ability to resolve its issues quickly, but believes that the rewards far outweigh the challenges. "Helping a client through an issue is very satisfying," she says, "I think time is more valuable than money. It's this appreciation of time that my clients express."

In addition to building her law practice and volunteering with VLSP, Tracy also dedicates time to community service and currently serves on the Board of Directors of The Women's Building of San Francisco, a community center whose mission is to help women and girls achieve equal participation in society. Her volunteer work for The Women's Building is not limited to legal matters; she is also active in fundraising efforts and recently rolled up her sleeves and personally made phone calls to donors in an effort to raise money for The Women's Building 25th anniversary celebration.

Though it seems inconceivable that Tracy could find any time for herself, she manages to get away to Hawaii every year, and, more often, to the Mendocino Coast where she indulges her love of art galleries and the outdoors. With a nod to her well-rounded legal expertise, Tracy adds, "I also believe in balancing my work and personal life."

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