back to Screen-Friendly page

Bar Association of San Francisco Member Benefits: Publications

Helping Low-Income Clients on Saturdays Enjoyable for VLSP Volunteer Frederick Craw

 

Frederick Craw has practiced employment litigation law for more than 25 years, and uses his expertise to assist individuals at the Volunteer Legal Services Program’s (VLSP) Legal Advice and Referral Clinic (LARC). LARC is a bi-monthly walk-in clinic where low-income clients are able to receive legal advice and/or referrals from experienced attorneys in various areas of the law.

VLSP’s Volunteer Coordinator Willie Shain recently asked Craw a few questions about his pro bono work with VLSP.

VLSP: How did you get involved with VLSP? Frederick Kraw

Frederick Craw (FC): When I started practicing law, my “special place” as an attorney imposed an ethical obligation to do legal volunteer work to benefit my community. I found that of BASF and VLSP’s many volunteer opportunities, the arbitration of Attorney/Client Fee Disputes for the ADR program and the Saturday LARCs, offered the best “fits” for me – besides, I have worked six day weeks for as long as I can remember and spending part of a Saturday with LARC personnel and clients was more enjoyable than sitting in my office drafting interrogatories.

VLSP: Can you talk about one pro bono case or volunteering experience that surprised you? What happened and what was the outcome?

FC: There have been many over the years that are memorable; one or two particularly stand out as representing that part of the LARC philosophy that I have embraced – i.e., offering concrete legal help to poor or otherwise vulnerable San Franciscans. One group of people that I particularly dislike is employers who exploit, bully or cheat their employees. With that attitude in place, I was happy to help a LARC client recover unpaid wages from a dishonest employer. A young woman had not been paid and was able to get a default Small Claims judgment against her employer.

VLSP: What are some rewards of volunteering?

FC: Perhaps the most attractive part of LARC work is helping people understand their “legal” rights and take concrete and personal action to exercise control over their lives. It is most rewarding to have clients come to the LARCs with a situation that they don’t understand, then leave with a clear idea of the legal implication of the matter and, best yet, a sense that they can take positive and concrete action.

VLSP: What are some challenges of volunteering?

FC: A significant challenge has always been to confront the impoverished and bereft lives that so many of LARC clients live on a day-to-day basis. For all the clients who bring in routine legal matters, many more bring in problems of actual survival, hardship, abuse and sadness that even an attorney who is not unfamiliar with such things may have reason to leave a LARC session with a sense of uneasiness about the course and direction of our country.

VLSP: What are some of your professional goals and how does volunteering fit into the larger picture you have your life?

FC: One goal that remains salient in my life is to continue to exercise what talents I have to assist others through the practice of law – this I accomplish through my day-to-day practice and by volunteering through LARC.

Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Craw has lived in San Francisco since 1967 and enjoys taking advantage of all the movies, museums and restaurants in “the best city in the world”.

To learn more about volunteering with LARC, email vlsp@sfbar.org.

Our partners at BASFAhern Insurance Brokerage