The Justice & Diversity Center (JDC) is thrilled to share a pro bono client success story for the month of June. This month’s story centers around Jenny, who with the help of the Family Law Project was able to settle their divorce.
After filing her own divorce paperwork through the SF Access Center, Jenny was referred to JDC for help with the division of property and assets after a court assisted settlement conference was unable to come to an agreement. JDC staff members connected her to Attorney Kristen Van Antwerp, who took their case in late January. With a trial set on the calendar, Antwerp was able to guide the conversation away from a piecemeal approach and avoid going to trial after establishing a give and take between those involved. The parties reached a settlement within two months, a short time before the scheduled trial was set to start.
Before being referred to the JDC, Jenny had viewed her divorce as challenging and inconvenient. The process had been confusing and because the opposing party had representation, she felt as if she was at a disadvantage. After getting assistance from JDC she felt confident and trusted that her attorney would be able to achieve her goals for the case. Speaking through a translator, Jenny stated that “it felt nice knowing that I was able to protect myself and what I was interested in without being silenced by the opposing counsel.” She especially appreciated JDC acquiring an interpreter for her due to her limited English proficiency, and explained that the interpreter followed up with her every step of the way.
As for Antwerp, the fact that this was a pro bono case did not impact their work, being that she “still had the same responsibility to the client regardless if they are paying our hourly rate or not.” Antwerp also spoke of the language aspect of the case. “A lot of people are hesitant to take on cases that require interpreters,” she said, but “it’s not a bar to handling a case.”
Jenny believes that if it were not for the services and help of JDC, her divorce case would not have concluded at the quick rate that it did, and she would not have gotten the division of community property that was rightfully hers. Grateful to have an attorney to represent her, she said “I hope that there are more attorneys that are able to assist people like us who are low income.”
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Do you speak languages beyond English or know people who would volunteer a couple hours to help translate at one of JDC’s Projects? It’s incredibly helpful to increase access to resources and support. Email email@example.com.