by Fred Anderson
Utah Legal Services, a non-profit agency providing essential legal services to those who are living in poverty, is fortunate to have pro bono attorneys and law students who willingly share their expertise and a portion of their time to address the legal needs of the less fortunate. Todd Richardson, an inactive member of the Utah State Bar, is a very special volunteer. He is married and has five children, and formerly practiced law. Todd began volunteering in February 2003. He was familiar with Utah’s legal forms, statutes, and processes, so he was a natural fit. He speaks fluent Spanish and we needed an interpreter to help in clinics in Tooele, Farmington, and Salt Lake City. Todd has made the pro se clinics effective for both English and Spanish speaking attendees with a variety of basic legal problems and has helped to translate clinic materials into Spanish.
The Rest of the Story
Todd graduated from Seattle University College of Law in 1984, passed the Utah State Bar exam, and went to work with a law firm in Salt Lake City doing liability claims. Eventually, he opened his own practice and was very successful. One warm spring day in 1998, while sitting on his motorcycle, stopped at a red light, a car doing about 40 mph, piloted by a drunk driver, plowed into him from behind. Todd was knocked 30 feet through the intersection and sustained life threatening injuries. He was in a coma for six weeks and the prognosis was bleak.
Although slow, his recovery was nothing short of miraculous. It took almost five years before he could resume a somewhat normal life, but some of his injuries were insurmountable and would remain with him permanently. One of these permanent disabilities is a loss of short-term memory as a result of a brain injury that his helmet could not prevent. Todd is continually challenged with remembering ongoing and recent events. This makes it very difficult for him to learn “new” things and, tragically, impossible to practice law as he once had.
Faced with the reality of his circumstances, Todd could easily choose to stay at home to avoid the physical and social discomforts he experiences and which continually reinforce his limitations whenever he attempts to reintegrate himself as a functional member in society. But, he has not chosen the path of least resistance. Rather, Todd has chosen to apply the valuable knowledge, skills, and abilities that he still retains to help others who cannot help themselves. To date, he has donated approximately 360 hours of his time serving the economically disadvantaged who require basic legal services. Todd’s desire to help others, his willingness to give of himself, and his demonstrated hard work with Utah Legal Services, in spite of his own challenges, make him not only a very special volunteer, but also a very outstanding person.