The Justice & Diversity Center (JDC) features Meredith Gittings as our Volunteer of the Month for her work with JDC’s Family Law Project. After stepping back from legal practice for several years, pro bono service has given Gittings a way to engage in an area of law that interests her while deciding whether to return to law. At the same time, a recent client described Gittings’ result in a custody matter as “helping to put her life back on track.”
Gittings enjoys getting to know her pro bono clients and finds it humbling to witness their strength in difficult situations, as with a recent client whose partner abruptly left and put her “in survival mode” with a young child and another on the way, and suddenly without the day-to-day life she knew and loved. Her courage in pushing aside her pain to move forward and focus on her children’s best interests put life in perspective for Gittings, and made it especially rewarding to get her a temporary order for exclusive custody.
Gittings began volunteering with JDC in 2008 while practicing products liability and consumer law, then started working for a private equity firm two years later. However, she remained interested in family law, and began taking on both limited-scope motions and full-scope representation through JDC last year.
Volunteering has given Gittings the chance to explore family law and consider practicing in this area, and she finds that she can balance the volunteer work with her full-time job. However, she enjoys the pro bono work so much that regardless of her career decisions, she knows that she wants to continue volunteering.
One of the biggest challenges of volunteering for Gittings is learning enough about clients that when a case concludes, “it can be like saying good-bye to a new friend.” On top of her inspiring clients, Gittings also enjoys working with “amazing people” through JDC, such as mentors who have helped her greatly, volunteer interpreters and JDC staff.
Gittings has lived in San Francisco for 20 years and loves the ocean, as well as the city’s unique neighborhoods and “creative, talented and fascinating people.” Gittings, a former ballet dancer, is herself an interesting and accomplished resident. An arts and music lover, she attends the ballet, symphony and opera whenever she can. When she has time, she also enjoys reading, sketching, painting, photography, yoga, traveling and exploring.