Sarah J. Briones is a volunteer at MetroWest Legal Services Lawyer for the day in the Marlborough Probate and Family Court where she assists walk-in clients with family law issues.
1. What inspired you to volunteer with the Lawyer for the Day?
I began volunteering in the Lawyer of the Day program because I recognized that there are many people in the community who cannot afford legal advice and services. The Probate matters are difficult and confusing to understand. It's unfair that the people, who need help the most, can't get the right result because they don't know how to navigate the process. I feel that the time that I spend at the LOD, is sometimes the most rewarding because I feel like I am making a real difference for people that need real help.
2. How do you think these types of Lawyer for the Day programs help the people in our community?
I think that with the LOD program, people don't feel so helpless. There is a places to go to get assistance with court paperwork and filings and have the process explained to them in a way they understand. It empowers people in an environment where all too often they feel powerless.
3. What did you find most rewarding and challenging working in a Lawyer for a Day environment?
It is extremely challenging to see so many people in a row and consult with them one after the other. It's exhausting. In my normal practice, I might have 1 or 2 consultations a day mixed into my regular work day. Having consults one after the other for 4 hours, takes a lot of mental energy. The most rewarding thing is when someone comes in and has little hope of actually getting "divorced" or whatever they want to accomplish and leave with all of their paperwork complete with instructions on what to do next and an idea of what the process will entail. They are generally extremely grateful.
4. Are there any cases or moments that stand out to you?
I often think of people that I encounter at LOD and wonder what happened with them. One person that stands out in particular was a lady who came in with a broken arm and didn't want to press charges against her husband because she would have no money for food for her children if he was in jail and couldn't work. It broke my heart to witness the hard choices that people, especially mothers, somtimes, have to make.
5. Why would you encourage others to do Pro Bono work with MWLS?
I would definitely encourage other attorneys to do pro bono work with MWLS. It's an eye opener for many of us who practice day to day with a different client base. For me, this isn't just a job I do to make money, it's what I have chosen to do as my life's work and if it has to be about more than dollar signs or I won't get satisfaction from it. The fact that we, the lawyers, have this knowledge about how the system works and we can choose to share it to help someone else along their path is something we should all get behind.
After graduating from Boston College in 1988, Attorney Briones attended Suffolk University Law School where she received her JD degree with honors. Attorney Briones has over 24 years of experience representing clients in Federal and Massachusetts Courts including Civil, Criminal and Probate and Family Court. Prior to attending law school, Sarah worked for a large insurance Company in Boston. During law school, she worked for a well-known personal injury firm also in Boston and was hired as an Associate upon graduation. After working there for several years, Attorney Briones opened her own practice where she has been ever since. Her success relies upon word of mouth referrals and she insists that every client is treated with respect and integrity.