Shelley Lewis

How long have you volunteered with MCVLP?

I began handling pro bono cases right after I passed the bar in 2004.

Why do you volunteer?

I was raised to help others when possible. My mother was a geriatric nurse for many years and she was always helping out her patients after they were discharged — driving them around town, bringing them to dinner and holidays, etc. There are many people with valid claims or defenses that do not have the money to pay a lawyer. Sometimes just having the ability to talk out the situation with a lawyer and get candid advice eases their mind.

What is your most memorable volunteering experience?

I recently helped an elderly lady who had been paying her monthly premiums to Blue Cross for twenty years. They cancelled her policy because they, erroneously, attempted to withdraw funds from her old bank account, even though she previously called and gave them her new account number because her identity had been stolen. It took lots of phone calls and questions but we got everything resolved and the client was able to continue her coverage, which is imperative given her age.

What advice can you give attorneys thinking about volunteering with the MCVLP?

It is a must! We are privileged to have the knowledge we have and the ability to navigate “the system” better than most. If we can help someone that needs the help, we should. My VLP clients are usually more appreciative of my help than my paying clients. Plus, it can be fun learning about areas of law I don’t usually deal with.