Can you tell me a little about your private practice?
We are a small estate planning firm committed to providing our clients with the highest quality estate planning services, regardless of their background. We serve clients in the State of Maryland and District of Columbia.
How has COVID-19 outbreak impacted your own practice?
We previously focused on educational seminars to teach others about estate planning and about our firm. Now we have switched to a webinar format. It’s a little more difficult to have an engaging conversation, but (interestingly) it is more comfortable for potential clients. They can sit in their own home and watch -- they are never on camera or microphone.
Which of PBRC’s projects do you volunteer with, and what do you do there?
I participate in the estate planning clinics run by PBRC’s Home Preservation Project (HPP), regardless of the location.
Tell me about what problem that PBRC’s Estate planning clinic addresses?
Estate planning is about more than just passing along assets or property. It's your life’s story, thoughts, passions, and belongings. As such, EVERYONE should have some form of a plan in place. This clinic helps those individuals who cannot afford legal services get a plan in place that serves their needs and offers help in drafting documents that provide for financial and medical representation if the need arises.
Can you tell me a little about how you got involved with PBRC’s HPP Estate Planning clinic?
Immediately after passing the bar I looked for an opportunity that offered mentorship alongside volunteerism. I saw an estate planning event held by PBRC and immediately started participating at the clinics. Through PBRC’s clinics I discovered my passion for estate planning.
How does remote volunteering compare with in-person volunteering?
Remote volunteering requires some extra savvy phone etiquette. You have to convey patience, passion, and an ability to listen. It’s more challenging to distill exactly what the client needs when you cannot see their face.
How does the project make it easy to volunteer?
There is no pressure. The project provides dates, times, and locations in advance. All you have to do is reach out and volunteer. At live events, mentors provide last-minute instructions and are present to assist throughout. During the remote clinics, you will receive instructions in advance and will have real-time digital chat with a mentor during your consultation.
What did you like most about this volunteering experience?
The best part is the smile, either seen or heard through the voice of your client. Their genuine happiness for a chance to talk and set up a plan is really a heartfelt experience.
Can you tell me about a client you met while working with PBRC?
One memorable client was a woman who had lived in a home that her husband built with his own hands 60 years earlier. She didn't have much, and she didn't want that home to leave the family. When I met her she was worried. You could tell that the prospect of losing the home was weighing heavily on her. After the consultation, she appeared as if the weight of the world had rolled off her shoulders. There was a smile on her face and a sparkle in her eye.
I remember another client, an elderly gentleman, who was convinced he had nothing to leave behind. I took a different approach and got him talking about his life and passions. In the conversation he started talking about his love for music and his substantial vinyl record collection. Later, he told me his nephew was learning to become a DJ, and we talked about the value of his records. He left the meeting with a new way to engage with his family and the thought that someone in his family might share his passion.
How has doing pro bono work changed you?
Pro bono changed my choice of practice. I went from patent and cyber law to starting my own firm focused on estate planning. I found my passion through continued pro bono work.
What message would you give to attorneys thinking about volunteering?
Do you need a pick-me-up or a chance to see the positive impact that the legal community can have on a person in less than two hours? Then just do it!
For more information about volunteering in Maryland, contact:
Dave Pantzer, PBRC Director of Education, Outreach and Technology