Our May 2009 MCB VLP Spotlight is on Brooke Shultz. Brooke is new to the Charlotte area and is integrating into the Charlotte legal community by volunteering with Legal Services of Southern Piedmont (LSSP). Brooke's volunteer work focuses on bankruptcy, foreclosure and mortgage fraud which has risen dramatically during the present mortgage crisis. We welcome Brooke to the Mecklenburg County legal community and commend her for her commitment to volunteer and pro bono work!
Current Employer / Number of years with current employer:
Before moving to Charlotte this past fall, I spent two years at a general civil practice law firm in Ohio. My practice focused on business law, trusts and estates, litigation, and real estate. Since moving to Charlotte, I have been volunteering daily with LSSP in their Consumer Protection Program. It has been a terrific introduction to Charlotte's legal community. The environment is friendly, the staff is very knowledgeable, and the clients truly need our help. I am blessed to have found a place I look forward to going to every day.
Law School / Law School Graduation Year:
J.D., 2006, Tulane University Law School; B.A., 2002, Hillsdale College
How did you discover this pro bono work?
My fiancé, Anthony Pijerov (who is also an attorney), suggested contacting LSSP. He did pro bono work for LSSP in the past and spoke very highly of his experience there.
The people at LSSP were great when I contacted them. They explained the various services LSSP provides and asked me where I would like to help out. For me, this seemed to be the perfect opportunity to learn about a new area of law. Given the current mortgage crisis, I was interested in working with people impacted by foreclosures, bankruptcy, and mortgage fraud. LSSP's Consumer Protection Program (which provides legal assistance with predatory lending, bankruptcy, foreclosures, unfair trade practices, debt collection, and other consumer and housing matters) proved to be the right match.
Although this was a completely new area for me, Lois Grossman, Stephanie Ceccato, and other staff members at LSSP jumped right in and began assigning projects to me and coaching me on relevant issues. As a result of my volunteer experience at LSSP, I have learned about a new area of law. More importantly, I have discovered how personally rewarding the opportunity to volunteer can be. LSSP has a terrific team!
How can the Mecklenburg County legal community help with this issue?
LSSP does not have sufficient resources to provide legal assistance to every eligible person who needs help. This makes volunteering so important! Even if you can only contribute a few hours or take on just one case, every contribution is incredibly important to an individual in our community.
LSSP is always looking for more volunteers - and not only volunteer attorneys, but volunteer paralegals and law students, too. Even if you think your practice falls outside LSSP's typical services, LSSP has a number of matters that any attorney can work on. The LSSP staff routinely trains volunteer attorneys who accept cases outside of their practice area. LSSP also provides training materials and sessions and is available to answer questions at any point in the case.
If you are interested in being connected with VLP, please contact Heather Blackley, Coordinator for Community and Volunteer Services to see how to get involved.
What advice would you give others?
Times are tough in Charlotte for young attorneys just starting out. However, new and young attorneys should get out and volunteer if they can. Not only will you make a difference, but you will learn something new while building new relationships in the community. It's a win-win opportunity!