From the Multnomah Lawyer: YLS Pro Bono Spotlight: Lynn Walsh
This month’s Pro Bono Spotlight tracks the career of Lynn Walsh, a solo practitioner who created a successful career allowing her the time and flexibility to give back to the community by providing pro bono legal services.
Lynn began her legal career a little differently than most. Through the 1980s, Lynn worked for General Motors as a mechanical engineer. It was through this career that she realized she would prefer to be her own boss. From there, Lynn worked her way through law school, and was admitted to practice in 1992.
Since 1992, Lynn has been primarily a solo practitioner. She started with personal injury cases, and now the bulk of her practice is devoted to representing prisoners on their civil rights, ADA, and negligence claims. I know many of us loathe the cliché phrase that folks just “fall into” a particular line of work, but for Lynn, that is exactly how it happened. After more than 15 years of personal injury work, Lynn started to represent prisoners, and has built up a thriving practice taking state or county actors, particularly medical providers, to task.
It was at this time, that Lynn felt the call to give back and joined the Federal District Court’s Pro Bono Panel. The panel appoints local attorneys who are able to provide counsel in federal court cases for pro se litigants. Although there are numerous other types of cases for which pro bono counsel are appointed, Lynn is always appointed to prisoner cases, and typically has one or two ongoing pro bono cases at any given time.
While civil rights claims relating to incarceration present significant technical challenges, Lynn assures us that there are numerous benefits to joining the panel and taking on a case of this nature. For one thing, it provides ample opportunities to get into court to practice appearing and speaking. If you are one of the many young attorneys lamenting the long wait to get into a courtroom, this is one avenue to address the delay. Taking on one of these cases also provides experience in federal court, which is not always a guaranteed venue in many areas of practice. Most importantly though, you will get the opportunity to help people who really need help, and are very grateful for the help they receive.
If you’re an attorney who wants experience, or wants to throw their energy into changing the tides of prison litigation, contact Lynn Walsh or read up on the pro bono program at the following link: ord.uscourts.gov/index.php/607-attorneys/pro-bono-service.
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