Q&A with Aaron Irving, pro bono attorney
Pro bono attorney Aaron Irving recently accepted a family law matter from Jacksonville Area Legal Aid.
He was able to achieve positive outcomes that provided stability and independence for a young man.
What were the basic facts of your case?
A young man and his "adoptive guardian — non-legal guardian" originally came to my office for a power-of-attorney by way of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid.
I also was informed by JALA that this young man, in addition to needing a POA, needed a dissolution of marriage. He had been married for approximately 9 months to a young woman in Georgia.
The young man and the young woman had low IQs, however, neither was deemed incompetent. The couple resided together in Georgia in a home owned by the young woman's parents.
The couple enjoyed "playing house," which led to the couple being married before a Georgia judge.
The marriage had been orchestrated by the young woman's father.
What were you able to accomplish for your client?
After meeting with the young man on two occasions, I drafted and subsequently executed a power-of-attorney so that his affairs would be in order.
Of course, the young man's capacity to understand was always in the back of my mind. However, after meeting with the young man I was able to determine he did understand the legalities of the document he was executing.
I also, as a courtesy, drafted and executed a living will and health care surrogate for the young man.
Thereafter, I was retained by him for a second time, but this time for the dissolution of marriage without children and without property.
Both parties wanted the dissolution, thus, we were able to enter into a final judgment without litigating the matter.
Why was the outcome important to your client?
The young man's marital status was preventing him from obtaining some important government benefits.
Since he did not have the substantial capacity to work on his own or live on his own, these benefits were vital.
Why was the experience important to you? What did you gain from the experience?
The young man had been the victim of domestic abuse and abandonment by his mother and had, on occasion, lived on the streets by himself.
Both matters — power-of-attorney and dissolution — were extremely important to me because I was able to assist in ensuring this young man is provided for.
He has trusted people in life who are now able to act on his behalf, if needed.
What advice do you have for other attorneys considering pro bono involvement?
As attorneys, we always are busy and our time is very important — at least to us! However, I charge each attorney to take the time to take just one case, it does not matter if complex or not. What is important is that you are taking the time to help a person in need who cannot otherwise afford your services.
As John Ruskin is quoted, the highest reward for a person's toil is not what they receive for it, but what they become of it.
Sincere appreciation is extended to Irving for his service to this vulnerable client, along with congratulations on achieving these positive outcomes.
Attorneys interested in being involved in pro bono representation and projects throughout the 4th Judicial Circuit are encouraged to contact Kathy Para, The JBA Pro Bono Committee chairwoman, at firstname.lastname@example.org.