By James Garts
MVL’s mission is “to bridge the gap in access to justice by coordinating the provision of pro bono legal services by volunteer lawyers within the Denver Metro Area to people who could not otherwise afford legal services for their civil legal issues.”
MVL is the centerpiece pro bono program of the Denver Bar Association and co-sponsored by various other local bars including Adams/Broomfield, Arapahoe, Douglas/Elbert, and the First Judicial District. Many Colorado lawyers participate as volunteers to provide civil legal services to those in need who live at or below 150% of the federal poverty guidelines for income. These legal services help to stabilize families, save taxpayer money, reduce the judicial workload, and help people move toward self-sufficiency and full participation in society.
Despite the array of lawyers who assist with its various programs, MVL is always in need of volunteers to take on pro bono and low-fee cases directly, and also to mentor other volunteers who have less experience. Many MVL volunteers find that through their efforts, not only do they feel a sense of reward for helping those less fortunate, they also gain valuable legal experience, advance their reputation, and advance the reputation of the legal profession as a whole. In addition to these rather obvious benefits, volunteering with MVL confers numerous untold benefits.
One such benefit is the opportunity to meet and work with other great attorneys with similar interests in the law. Volunteers range in ability, experience and availability. Opportunities range from micro-volunteering to regular monthly participation, as well as recruiting and mentoring newer lawyers to participate in the programs. MVL offers the benefit of having an abundance of readily available work to teach and learn from for the attorney pairs.
Not only does MVL mentor/mentee pairing benefit the individual parties, the community and the state as a whole, it can be used to test an emerging employer/employee match. Colorado has experienced a huge growth in the number of emerging law firms. The MVL mentorship program benefits these new law firms because it allows lawyers to assess the interest, skill, confidence and horsepower of a potential new associate while simultaneously giving back to the community. MVL cases are broad; from preventing evictions to working on domestic relations cases, mentors are both giving back to Colorado and showing potential new associates (in the form of mentees) the pace and quality of work expected by the client, the courts, and your office.
MVL hopes that you will volunteer. Not only are you helping the less fortunate, giving back to the community, and improving the reputation of the legal profession, you are gaining a valuable network for the rest of your legal career. The mentorship program helps new attorneys build their network and gain experience with well-known attorneys while allowing more experienced attorneys to pass their knowledge a new generation and possibly find a potential new hire for their firm. MVL’s pro bono program is beneficial in multiple ways and will always need new volunteers. D
James Garts leads the Robinson & Henry family law practice in Denver. He served on the CBA Executive Council and was the young lawyer liaison to the CBA Board of Governors