Katie Jarvi knows that attorneys can provide a lot of help with only a little bit of effort. Jarvi, an attorney with Johnson/Turner Legal, has been a dedicated Legal Access Point (LAP) clinic volunteer. She is also the co-chair of the HCBA’s Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) oversight committee.
All of her volunteer work relates to her favorite part of her job: talking to people. “I like sitting down and doing consultations and thinking about, how can we help you? How can we get you out of whatever situation you’re in and into a better place? Sometimes it takes legal help to do that. Sometimes it is just talking to people and offering them non-legal options too. I really just enjoy getting to know people.”
One of her most rewarding volunteer moments came when she helped a gentleman with a seemingly minor legal issue at a LAP clinic. The man spoke very little English and needed assistance with some documents. “It was such a significant barrier to him and he was really, really upset about it,” she said. Jarvi was able to assist him and she remembers how happy he was after the issue was solved. “The look on that guy’s face was pretty priceless.”
Volunteering with LAP has exposed Jarvi to the issues surrounding access to justice. “You really see firsthand when you start volunteering with LAP or really any of these legal clinics what specifically those barriers are,” she said. Those issues can be as minor as filling out the right form or finding an interpreter. “You almost don't realize how small those barriers are,” she said.
And help from an attorney can mean all the difference. ”They are able to do something they couldn't do before, and it changes their entire life,” she said.
Another barrier that people don’t often think about is the fear of actually talking to an attorney, and Jarvi is glad that LRIS is helping alleviate that. “Sometimes folks are scared to call an attorney’s office. They don't know if they really have a legal issue or they don't know what the legal issue is. They know that something is wrong, but they don't really know how to ask for the help that they need,” she said.
She said that LRIS is helping spread an important message: quality, affordable legal help is a realistic option for many people. “It's kind of a psychological barrier where people don't think that they can afford a good quality attorney. I think that it's important to spread that message to folks that you can.”
Who would have thought that an attorney could help this much just by talking?