by Anne Milne
Lauren I. Scholnick is a partner in the firm of Strindberg & Scholnick, LLC. She has been volunteering at the Guadalupe Center’s legal clinic since 1999.
For the last five years, Lauren Scholnick has been volunteering one Tuesday night a month at Guadalupe Center legal clinic. Lauren says she volunteers after work, “because I know how hard it is to get legal help within our system. It is often confusing and frustrating for people to figure out what they should do when confronted with a legal problem even if they speak English. By helping those who primarily speak Spanish at the Guadalupe, we are able to help people with language barriers access and navigate the system to solve their legal problems. That language barrier means that many people are taken advantage of.”
Lauren considers the walk-in legal clinic at Guadalupe Center to be “a great volunteer project.” According to Lauren, you commit to staff the clinic and su!
pervise law students for two hours each month. When you get there, you pick up cases and review them with the students. Then you help students follow through with whatever needs to be done: write letters, develop evidence, negotiate settlements, or help clients through small claims or Utah antidiscrimination hearings. This takes no more than an additional one to four hours each month. “Even with a small investment of time, you see real, favorable results for the clients and growth of the students into real lawyers.”
The best thing about her experience has been helping law students help real clients with real problems, “especially seeing the enthusiasm they have for the process. I’m always so proud of them when they resolve a problem for our clients.” The one thing she hadn’t expected was the huge variety of legal problems she sees at the Guadalupe clinic. Everything comes through the clinic’s door – from consumer issues, to employment questions, to criminal matters, to intellectual property concerns. One guy said Oliver Stone stole his movie screenplay.
Lauren feels strongly that all lawyers (who, she points out, rank 8th highest in income in Utah, according to a Salt Lake Tribune poll) should give back to the community, not just with money, but also with time. “This is the most direct way I can think to do that.”