It takes time for some attorneys to discover how fulfilling and valuable pro bono work can be. Others begin their pro bono work early in their careers.
Rosa Price is part of the latter category and began her work to help the underserved almost immediately after being sworn in to The Florida Bar.
She hasn't slowed down since.
After she took her oath in 2004, Price was referred to the Clay County office of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid by the judge who administered her oath.
She said she regards it as one of the best professional decisions she has ever made. Being guided through the court system by a group of experienced professionals with pro bono backgrounds provided Price with a springboard for her future to assist the underserved.
Price has focused her efforts to provide legal services to victims of domestic violence seeking injunctions. She has helped serve dozens of pro bono clients seek a peaceful and safe environment at home.
Her work has had a positive and far-reaching impact for many, but Price knows not all cases can have a happy ending.
A memorable case for Price was one of the first injunction cases she handled. The case involved a young woman from overseas, a resident alien, married to a U.S. citizen. The woman was pregnant and a long way from home. Her husband became abusive and she filed for an injunction.
"She had no means of support, couldn't drive, knew no one but her husband and was afraid of being deported," Price said. "At her hearing, the injunction was granted as well as temporary support from her husband. In addition, I was able to put her in contact with a support group of others from her home country. Helping her was important for her safety, but also because she needed to know that she was not alone."
While working for the Public Defender's Office, Price encountered the client. She learned that in spite of the positive outcome, the client's problems were not over. The husband had been charged with domestic battery and had violated the injunction.
Price said her spirit was not dampened and the value of service was clear. The injunction served to give her client some needed space and safety. It also provided the time and distance her client needed to take important next steps in her life and establish some personal and emotional support so she could pursue more permanent measures.
In all cases, the positive steps are sometimes accompanied by setbacks. Each serves to strengthen and empower the client to face and overcome setbacks.
Price encourages others to become involved in providing legal services to low-income and vulnerable clients.
The need is great and most problems — though they may seem immense to the client — can be solved with very little work. "Honestly, you will gain so much more than you will give," she said.
Price practices family and criminal law in Clay County. Her hope is that more attorneys will accept the cases of pro bono clients. There are many clients in need of service and the personal and professional rewards for the pro bono attorneys are great.
Attorneys interested in pro bono opportunities throughout the 4th Circuit are encouraged to contact Kathy Para, chairwoman of The JBA Pro Bono Committee, at [email protected].