Pro Bono

Yesterday, I had to great opportunity to finish up a divorce for a lady that I did pro bono. She had started it herself, but she decided to try to hire an attorney after filing it. Someone sent her to me, since they heard that I do pro bono work for folks in need, so long as time allows. I took the case, and it’s been a great experience.

People get nervous when going to court. I remember when I went to court for my divorce hearing nearly eleven years ago. I was petrified. My attorney and my witness, a former legal assistant, were there to hold my hand the whole way. We were even able to go back in the judge’s chambers to do the divorce, instead of having to go in the great big scary courtroom in Pulaski County. Unlike Saline County, where I practice the most, the courthouse in Pulaski County is a huge building with lots of staircases and big courtrooms. It’s scary to a non-court person, although the architecture is quite cool. I remember thinking that the judge might not let me get divorced, for whatever reason, which would mean I would be stuck with my ex for an eternity. Since it had already been an eternity at that point, I certainly wanted it to be over sooner than later. I hate wasting time, and I felt like I’d already wasted all I needed to on that.

A client told me the other day that she wanted to cut off the 300-pound tumor that she had – meaning her soon to be ex. That was about the funniest thing I’ve heard in a long time, and I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing out loud. It is also probably the most accurate thing I’ve heard in a while. When a person is done with a relationship, and I mean really done like burned in the oven beyond recognition done, he or she is done. Most people can hardly wait to have the divorce finalized, to be able to move on with their lives, going in a new direction, making new friends and having new relationships or even continuing the relationship they have forged with a new person. I think the latter is sometimes hard for the non-divorced non-hurt to see, but I completely understand it. A person needs other people. Everyone can’t be like those people who hide out in the woods, and let’s be honest, those people sometimes tend to turn out as serial killers or such if they do that. People need good, loving interactions with other people. I think that is something that is wrong with the world today – not enough love going around. So, if a person wants or needs a relationship when one has ended, I’m not the one to judge and say it’s a bad thing. I really don’t think it is. People need other people to get through trying times, and divorce is really one of the most trying times a person can go through. The death of a relationship results in grief, just like the death of a person (albeit lesser).

Yesterday, as I handed the file-marked copy of the decree to my client and had the great honor of telling her that she was officially divorced, I got a hug. She thanked me and told me that she didn’t know what she would have done without me, as she couldn’t do it otherwise.

That hug, that smile, and knowing that she is now free to live the rest of her life reminded me of why I do what I do. I like to help other people in a way that makes a difference. THIS is changing lives.

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