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March Volunteer of the Month Jeffrey Spahn

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

  • By: Psyche Philips
  • Organization: VLSP



Since joining the Volunteer Legal Services Program (VLSP) as an eviction defense volunteer in December 2005, Jeffrey Spahn has volunteered at every possible opportunity between now and then. A dedicated and committed volunteer with VLSP's Courthouse Landlord/Tenant Project, Jeffrey Spahn is March's Volunteer of the Month.

Originally from New York, Jeffrey came to the Bay Area for a teaching job at UC Berkeley, where he taught writing skills to underrepresented students. Faced with many obstacles in his teaching career brought on by Proposition 409, Jeffrey grew frustrated with his limitations and developed an interest in law.

After graduating from the University of San Francisco School of Law and passing the California State Bar exam in 2004, Jeffrey began working in employment law as a full-time independent contract attorney. He currently represents both sides of discrimination, wrongful termination and wage dispute cases.. He learned about VLSP through a friend, and jumped on the opportunity to get hands-on experience outside of the employment law arena while making a real difference in people's lives.

One of the reasons Jeffrey volunteers so frequently is because "volunteering with VLSP provides high quality courtroom experience." The Courthouse Landlord/Tenant Project provides limited scope pro bono representation to un-represented individuals and families facing eviction during their mandatory settlement conferences. The Courthouse Project is a great opportunity for busy attorneys because it involves a minimal time commitment. Jeffrey has already represented a wide range of individuals, from students who couldn't afford rent one month, to individuals who owe over $20,000 in back rent, to clients who require an interpreter in order to communicate with him. Several times he has felt so strongly about his client's casethat he decided to take it a step further by agreeing to provide full representation of his client after the settlement conference.

Jeffrey says he has learned a lot in his short time volunteering with VLSP. "One of the best parts about volunteering is meeting the other volunteer attorneys . . . they are such great people and you can learn so much from them." Aside from the valuable learning experience, Jeffrey says doing pro bono work can be its own reward. "After every case you get an incredible thank you, and that's the best part of volunteering."

When Jeffrey isn't working or volunteering, he is an executive board member for the Pride Law Fund, which sponsors the annual Steel Fellowship for post-graduate law students.

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