"My work is very people-oriented and I am constantly interacting with staff, the public, volunteers and my legal colleagues throughout the state."
Class of 2001
I'm the Director of the Maine Volunteer Lawyers Project, a statewide legal services agency that provides legal information, assistance, advice and representation to low-income people around the state on civil legal matters, all through the work of volunteers. We are one of two statewide providers that serve low-income people - the other is Pine Tree Legal Assistance which utilizes staff attorneys. VLP handles virtually all of the family law cases in Maine and also works in the areas of consumer law (especially bankruptcy and foreclosure), public benefits, housing, healthcare, contracts, small claims, unemployment, licenses, adoption and guardianship (and I'm sure some others).
I am both the Director and the Directing Attorney for the program - I have a staff of 6 in addition to (on an annual basis) more than 80 community volunteers who staff our statewide hotline and 1,200 attorney volunteers who provide pro bono representation and other services. As Director, I am an overall non-profit manager handling staff and volunteer supervision, operations (especially service delivery models), fundraising, program reporting and compliance with federal and funder regulations, public representation of the program, lobbying, volunteer recruitment, training and retention (primarily attorneys), reporting to my board as well as serving on multiple statewide committees or other bodies working on access to justice issues, interfacing with the Courts, the private bar, other providers and our clients, developing technology and generally figuring out how to serve as many clients as well as we possibly can.
As Directing Attorney, I supervise more than 6,000 cases each year, stay on top of legal changes in the state and nationally, provide advice and assistance to pro bono attorneys and work to make the legal system accessible to clients. One thing that is exciting about working in Maine is that I get to be a big fish in a small pond - working directly with the judiciary and Chief Justice, the Attorney General, the legislature and Governor, the bar leadership and all those involved in the big picture planning and strategizing about how to make the legal system work in our state. I also get to use and develop a broad range of skills beyond lawyering - from marketing to policy development to adapting cutting edge technology - most of which involve lots of creative problem solving.
Finally, my work is very people-oriented and I am constantly interacting with staff, the public, volunteers and my legal colleagues throughout the state. We're always looking for summer interns (and have a very well developed program, but folks need their own funding). We also have a family law fellowship for new attorneys (the Frank M. Coffin Fellowship) - which employs two attorneys at a time (one new attorney each year) for two year fellowships providing representation on family law cases in the greater Portland area. The link to the fellowship description is on the Maine Bar Foundation website - www.mbf.org. Our website (which I'm in the process of revamping and hope to have up in a few weeks) is www.vlp.org.