Lu Carlson, Esq., PBRC Volunteer; MSBA Member

Can you tell me a little bit about your practice?
I’m in the process of starting my own solo practice in estate planning, estate administration, and guardianship. My other areas of interest include elder law, disability rights, and adoption.

With which of PBRC’s projects do you volunteer, and what do you do there?
I work with PBRC’s Home Preservation Project, in their estate planning clinic. I work with low-income seniors to provide the three main estate planning documents – wills, powers of attorney, and advance directives. I help with whichever ones the client wants, and it’s usually all three. So they walk out with an entire estate plan that we’ve just put together.

How does the project make it easy to volunteer?
All you have to do is show up.  PBRC provides training ahead of time. There is a frequently asked questions booklet, and there are templates for all the documents. The clinic provides different language variations you can use, and they have mentors on site to answer any questions that arise. PBRC also brings in the clients, so you don’t have to do that either. You just show up and you practice. And they feed you! It is so easy to volunteer with the project.

Have you found pro bono service to be beneficial as you start your solo practice?
Yes. Pro bono has given me a lot more experience and confidence. I’m helping people, and meeting other practitioners who are interested in helping people. So, it’s a three-pronged benefit: helping people, meeting colleagues, and gaining experience. The experience is important. I’m usually nervous when I’ve never done something before, but after I do it, I have much more confidence. I’ll always have some questions, but with the on-site mentors, I can do the work.

How have the clinic mentors contributed to your experience?
Having a mentor present is vital. There are some questions that I don’t have the answers to. I could eventually find out the answers, but because the mentors are there, the clients get a complete estate plan that day.

What has been your experience working with the clients?
I’ve loved all my clients through the estate planning clinic. At my first clinic, I was paired up with another attorney. I remember that client said, “You know, this was fun! I didn’t think I was going to enjoy it, but this was really as fun as it could be.” Every client I’ve met is a real character. I’ve really enjoyed it and the clients are all very kind and grateful for the help.

What keeps you coming back?
I love helping the clients, and each time I return, I get more experience. I enjoy meeting people. There are a lot of really great colleagues.                                                    

What do you think other attorneys should know about Pro Bono Resource Center?
PBRC will train you in just about anything – for free! All you have to do is volunteer a couple times, and you walk away with experience. And hopefully you volunteer more than a couple of times. I’m grateful to PBRC for the training, for the volunteer opportunities, and for the people I get to meet. Thank you!