This Pro Bono Week, we wanted to celebrate one of our fantastic volunteers, Arielle H. Friehling! Arielle practices corporate and securities law at Cooley LLP, but to us she the sweet, reliable, always ready to help Arielle. Arielle first started volunteering with OneJustice while a summer associate at Cooley LLP, in July 2016. Since then, she has become a regular at our clinics – attending 5 since then, assisting numerous clients with their immigration paperwork and legal needs. From screening people for their immigration remedies, to filling out naturalization and DACA renewal paperwork, Arielle brings warmth and kindness to every clinic that makes each of the people she is working with feel special and cared for. Below is an interview that we had Arielle about her experiences being a pro bono!
- When did you first start volunteering with OneJustice?
My first experience with OneJustice was on the Justice Bus during my summer associate program at Cooley in July 2016. It was a great way to learn the ropes of the OneJustice immigration clinic process since there was some training and clinic overview on the bus, as well as time to bond with the OneJustice staff and other attorney volunteers.
- What was your first clinic experience like?
I had watched all the training videos and paid attention during our on-site training but was definitely overwhelmed at first by the length and detail of the forms, which made me realize how overwhelming the process must be for someone trying to naturalize or apply for DACA status without assistance. It was really special to be able to connect with clients by listening to them with compassion and helping them navigate through the bureaucratic web of documents.
- Why did you continue volunteering?
It’s so meaningful to me to use my skills and position as an attorney to help those who otherwise would not receive the assistance they need in a process that is life-changing for them. I appreciate that OneJustice connects lawyers from urban areas to underserved communities in more rural areas that truly need our services.
- What has been your favorite memory from clinics?
So many good memories to choose from – Bette’s amazing inspiration as a retired immigration judge choosing to spend her free time volunteering all over the Bay Area; Lusik’s entertaining stories that should definitely earn her a podcast. But my favorite memory was actually from my most recent clinic earlier this month. One of my clients was an elderly gentleman with severe medical disabilities that clearly warranted a waiver from the civics exam portion of the naturalization interview. He’s been having trouble finding a doctor who would fill out the waiver form for a reasonable fee. His daughter was there to help translate and explain our questions. Even with all of this adversity, the client was joking and laughing with his daughter and me during our meeting. It was so powerful to see him put at ease and be able to accomplish this important step in his journey toward naturalization.
The Bay Area Rural Justice Collaborative was launched in 2013 by OneJustice and Cooley LLP, in collaboration with a broad network of Bay Area law firms and legal service providers. The Collaborative was developed to meet the goals of the Association of Pro Bono Counsel’s (APBCo) national network of IMPACT (“Involving More Pro Bono Attorneys in Our Communities Together”) Projects, which are intended to design innovative and sustainable new solutions that will increase access to free legal services by utilizing pro bono volunteers.
To learn more about Rural Justice Collaborative clinics, please contact Program Manager Lusik Gasparyan at firstname.lastname@example.org.