Summer Associate Feature: Emily O'Neal
 

Editor’s Note: During the week of October 23-29, 2022, the American Bar Association and law firms around America in the National Celebration of Pro Bono. Since 2009, the ABA has encouraged attorneys, paralegals, law students, and law firms to call attention to the continuing need for pro bono legal services through events, highlighting pro bono opportunities, and sharing the contributions of pro bono volunteers in their communities. The 2022 Celebration Theme is “Law in Everyday Life.” According to the ABA’s website, this will “focus attention on the ways in which access to legal assistance affects historically excluded and low-income individuals across the country in all aspects of life.”

Fraser Stryker is honored to spotlight some of Nebraska’s charitable organizations providing free or reduced fee legal access to low-income and other marginalized individuals and celebrate the pro bono contributions of our attorneys and law students. We are inspired by the work of these organizations and individuals. We urge Nebraska’s legal professionals and law students to consider volunteering their time and talents through pro bono work.

Today, we highlight the pro bono involvement of Jessica L. Weborg with the Nebraska Bar Association’s statewide pro bono program Volunteer Lawyers Project, or VLP. According to the Nebraska Bar Association’s page, the VLP’s mission is to “…improve access to justice for low-income Nebraskans through the delivery of quality pro bono and reduced fee legal services by volunteers.”

Recognizing there is a large, underserved community without access to legal services in times of need, Jessica said volunteering with the VLP has always felt like the perfect fit. As an attorney with a diverse practice background, providing pro bono work through VLP gives her the opportunity to use her skills to give back and help those who cannot afford a lawyer. Jessica had her first pro bono work experience in 2015 when, as a senior-certified law clerk, she assisted with a guardianship matter through the VLP. Since then, she continues to take on pro bono estate planning and guardianship cases for VLP clients, most recently helping a client prepare estate documents, and assisting another with their adult guardianship case.

Although every pro bono experience is memorable, Jessica recalled one of the most memorable VLP cases involved assisting a 19-year-old become guardian over a brother who was disabled. “This young man not only was taking care of himself, but he also took on this massive responsibility for the care of his younger brother as his parents were not involved,” said Jessica. “Knowing that I am making an impact, even a small one for the betterment of someone’s life makes me feel good about the work that I am doing.”

We thank Jessica as well as the VLP staff and other pro bono volunteers for your contributions to the Volunteer Lawyers Project!

VLP Resources:

The VLP encourages those who may need civil legal assistance to visit Nebraska Free Legal Answers to begin the process of seeking assistance.

For attorneys, paralegals, and law students looking for new pro bono opportunities, the VLP offers a variety of ways to volunteer, including through one-day pop up clinics, remote clinics, and reduced fee case placement. To see a list of all pro bono opportunities, please visit: nevlp.org/volunteer.html.

This article has been prepared for general information purposes and (1) does not create or constitute an attorney-client relationship, (2) is not intended as a solicitation, (3) is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice, and (4) is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney. Always seek professional counsel prior to taking action.