Ryan Thompson & Molina Arena-Randall

September 2009

 

This month's spotlight focuses on two summer associates from Cadwalader, Ryan Thompson and Molina Arena-Randall. In May, one of their supervising attorneys contacted MCB VLP staff to coordinate a pro bono opportunity on which their summer associates could participate throughout the summer.  Coordinator, Mary Jordan M. Samuel proposed several opportunities available through the VLP partners.  They provide a unique perspective on handling pro bono cases as summer associates. We wish them luck during their final year of law school!

 

Name

Ryan P. Thompson (R.T.) and Molina Arena-Randall (M.A.R.)

 

Law School / Expected Law School Graduation Year

R.T. Duke University School of Law / 2010

M.A.R. Vanderbilt Law School/ 2010

 

Summer Employer

R.T. and M.A.R.  Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP

 

How did you discover this pro bono matter?

R.T. and M.A.R. Joseph Barnette, who has been active in pro bono work the last several years, served as the pro bono liaison for Cadwalader's summer associate program.  He worked with Lois Grossman and Rabia Javaid at Legal Services of Southern Piedmont to find a project that we could complete during our 12-week summer program.

 

What is a typical case like?

R.T. For the Simple Wills Program, prospective clients complete end-of-life planning questionnaires and submit them to Legal Services of Southern Piedmont.  The Legal Services staff coordinates with local volunteers to find attorneys who are willing to accept cases and work with clients in need.  The preparation of these documents requires a significant amount of attorney-client communication and provides opportunities to work closely with clients who may otherwise have gone unrepresented.

M.A.R. Our current focus is drafting simple wills and end of life planning documents  Though we provide the same range of available services to each client, the process is very personalized.  As summer associates, we have a lot of direct contact with the clients and must tailor our services according to their individualized needs.

 

Did you participate in any particular training so that you could handle these cases?

R.T. and M.A.R. Yes, Lois Grossman and Rabia Javaid of Legal Services of Southern Piedmont led a training program for our office in early June.

 

What is your hope for the future with regard to these cases?

R.T. I hope that my clients will be able to take comfort in the fact that their affairs have been satisfactorily put in order.  I like to think that a person will be helped, if only in a small way, by knowing that his wishes will be honored as he faces the uncertainty that his future holds.

M.A.R. It is my hope that we are providing an important and continuing source of confidence and empowerment for people who could not otherwise afford to have these documents produced.  I hope that we are giving our clients a lasting sense of security and the comfort that their wishes will be respected and their instructions will be followed. 

 

How can the Mecklenburg County legal community help with similar cases? 

R.T. The staff at Legal Services of Southern Piedmont has been indispensable in organizing this effort to help the community.  Rabia Javaid, the LSSP's Volunteer Coordinator, may be contacted at (704) 971-4788.

M.A.R. Lois Grossman and Rabia Javaid of Legal Aid have been a tremendous help and a great source of information.  I would suggest having your firm's pro bono liaison contact either Lois or Rabia to take the first step toward getting involved.

 

What is the best advice you've received during your summer associate experience?

R.T. Beginning with my first day at Cadwalader, my proximity to the legal community has continually reminded that the legal profession is a client service industry in which giving the client what he needs is the absolute priority.  Applying that principle to the public sector is doubly rewarding; it yields not only the pleasure of being a legal professional, but also a great personal blessing to be well-placed to give valuable services to people in need.

M.A.R. Pay attention to details.  It sounds like simple advice, but it is the easiest to overlook and the first thing a client or supervising attorney will notice if overlooked.  From listening to your client's needs to drafting legal documents, the difference is always in the details.  I believe that paying attention to details is one of the fundamental aspects of providing excellent legal services. 

 

What advice would you give others about having summer associates participate in pro bono work?

R.T. Do it!  It is definitely a great experience; in addition to working directly with clients who are excited to receive your services and eager to assist in any way possible, you are getting hands-on experience and making a meaningful contribution to the community.

M.A.R. I would strongly recommend to every firm to incorporate pro bono work into their summer programs because it offers so many benefits to both firms and their summer associates.  For firms, it's a great way to give back to their community and give their summer associates meaningful work.  For summer associates, it is an excellent opportunity to get involved with the community and take on more responsibility.  My pro bono experience has involved a lot of interaction with the client which has been really beneficial from both a professional and social perspective.  I have been able to take ownership over the project which has increased my confidence, and I really feel like I am making a difference.  In turn, my firm has been able to evaluate a wider range of my abilities and participate within the local community.  It has been a really wonderful process for everyone involved.  Additionally, I cannot think of any reason why a firm should not do it.

 

What is your favorite part of your current job?

R.T. I feel that my experience with this pro bono work has rounded out my perception of the practice of law.  It is unfortunately very easy to narrow one's view of the law to a single field or practice.  The truth, however, is that the range of ways in which we can offer services to the community is very broad (and the corresponding rewards are rich) once we step outside our comfort zones to help people.

M.A.R. My favorite part of my current job is the diverse exposure to interesting and meaningful legal work.  As summer associates, we are assigned a wide variety of work from all the different departments so every day brings new types of projects, new topics, and new challenges.  I have found that working as a summer is an exciting opportunity to grow intellectually and professionally.  In my current job, I personally have grown and learned so much that it is hard for me to believe that I am the same person who started only two months ago. 

 

What is your least favorite part of your current job?

R.T. With the approaching end of my summer program, I doubt I will have an opportunity to draft documents for another client until next year.

M.A.R. I think the hardest part of being a summer associate is being new.  For most of us, this is our first exposure to our firm and their legal practices.  It takes time to acclimate to both the corporate culture and the legal work, making it feel at times that you have so much more to learn.  You want to have a lot of responsibility and leadership, but clearly that is difficult when it is the first time you are doing something.

 

Any other pertinent things you would like to share with the Mecklenburg County Bar and legal community?

R. T. Using your talents to provide a valuable service to people in need is refreshing and exciting.  In addition to helping members of the community who may not otherwise have been able to secure legal representation, it is a personally enriching experience.  It is easy to get started, incredibly worthwhile, and immensely rewarding.

 

 

 


 

 

 
Monday September 1, 2014


 
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