Attorney Amy York lives by this motto. Although not “small,” Amy’s participation in the LASC Pro Bono Bankruptcy Project over the past two years has helped change the lives of many of her pro bono and reduced fee clients.
A native of Kentucky and graduate of the University of Kentucky, Amy obtained a BS in chemical engineering and spent ten years as an engineer before ultimately attending law school at the University of Minnesota. “Legal aid work actually prompted me to go to law school,” Amy explains. Her brother was a Legal Aid attorney in Midland, Texas; inspired by observing his work with domestic violence victims, she committed to becoming an attorney.
After spending time clerking in Minnesota, litigating in Texas, and working with a firm in Lancaster, Amy decided to hang out her own shingle. “It’s terrifying and satisfying and fun and challenging!” She was connected with LASC by her friend and fellow volunteer attorney Antonia Johnson, who urged Amy to reach out and find out how best to use her talents to help Legal Aid clients. “I like math (of course, I’m an engineer!) and I like counseling clients, so bankruptcy made sense as an area where I could do what I like to help people,” she explains.
Her work with LASC during the past few years has been both fulfilling and revealing: “Almost every single one of my pro bono clients has been a thankful person who is just trying their best in hard circumstances. I am continually amazed at how little LASC clients can live on, and how hard many of them work to make ends meet as well as they can. They sacrifice so much for their children, and teach me so much about humanity.”
One of her favorite pro bono cases was actually in Texas, when she represented a sweet older gentleman who suffered from serious health problems and was served with divorce papers. The man, offering to pay her $25-a-month for her services, ultimately was referred through the local legal aid pro bono program so that Amy could help him pro bono.
Amy’s work as a sole practitioner offers her flexibility and the opportunity to help people who would not otherwise have access to the system. “We all fall on hard times, financially or emotionally, and need a hand. I’m proud to be able to offer that to my clients, to treat them with dignity and respect when they may not often receive that, and to (hopefully) leave them in a better place than I found them.”
Her commitment to this ideal of ensuring access to justice for vulnerable clients is woven throughout her professional and personal life: “I hope that it will serve as a good example for my daughter as she grows up – not only to help others, but that women can be business people, pioneers, carve their own paths, and make a difference in the world.” For the clients who have received a fresh start as the result of Amy’s advocacy, the world has become a better, more compassionate place. Thank you, Amy!