In honor of this special anniversary, the Brooklyn Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project (“VLP”) highlights some of the remarkable volunteer attorneys whose pro bono work can be seen in the strength of the VLP today. The VLP model harnesses the talent of local professionals to make access to justice a reality for our clients; we could simply not do this without volunteers like those featured below. Celebrate your contribution to the VLP’s 25 years–read the inspiring stories of highlighted volunteers at different points in the VLP’s 25-year history and commit to 25 dollars a month in their honor.
“Many times we forget the power we have as attorneys to literally transform lives. Pro bono helps one remember that.”
Born and raised in Brooklyn, Daniel Gershburg always had an entrepreneurial spirit. After graduating New York Law School, Daniel immediately opened the doors to his own law office, hoping to change the way solo attorneys are perceived. Since 2007, Daniel has helped sixty VLP bankruptcy clients get back on their feet. Below, he tells us about his entwined journey of starting his own practice and doing pro bono work.
VLP: Tell us about yourself. What is the nature of your practice?
DG: I started my practice at the age of 24 in a tiny office in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. I took every case that came in until I honed my skills in Bankruptcy. An instructional video (yes, video) of Greg Messer and David Doyaga (whom I refer to as the Doc Holiday and Wyatt Earp of Bankruptcy) led me on my way. We are now based in New York City and focus on consumer bankruptcy and residential real estate transactions.
VLP: How did you first get involved with the Brooklyn VLP?
DG: I wanted to learn Bankruptcy by doing pro bono work. I found the VLP online and the rest was history.
VLP: Has your work at the VLP assisted you professionally?
DG: It allowed me to learn the law and, just as importantly, the procedure surrounding bankruptcy without constantly worrying about a malpractice suit. More importantly, I’ve actually seen the relief on the faces of my pro bono clients when their case is discharged. You cannot put a price on that.
VLP: Why do you continue to do pro bono at the Brooklyn VLP?
DG: Because I believe we have an obligation to help. Many times we forget the power we have as attorneys to literally transform lives. Pro bono helps one remember that.
VLP: What advice would you give to law students or recent law graduates?
Get a refund. Totally kidding (maybe). You need to hustle. You need to go out and meet everyone you possibly can and take any job you can in this market. Get experience. Find out what you don’t want to do. Then try something else and find out what you do want to do. Then spend every single moment learning and writing down mistakes. Improve every day. It’s called the “practice” of law for a reason.
VLP: Why is it important to do pro bono work?
DG: As I mentioned before, it’s an obligation. People depend on our help.
VLP: Can you share any VLP success stories?
DG: No specific one comes to mind. I can tell you that when people walk out of a meeting of the creditors, this calmness washes over them. I’d take that feeling over a huge client any day.
VLP: What can you take from earlier experiences at the VLP and what has meant the most to you?
DG: The dedication of the people who work for VLP. Sidney specifically. They’re doing God’s work. Would love to see more like them in our profession.