Volunteer Spotlight: Judie Ilus

 

Judie is a 20Ilus headshot09 graduate of Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center. Prior to law school, Judie attended Boston University and graduated with a degree in Economics. Judie came to the Brooklyn Volunteer Lawyers Project in May 2012, wanting to gain some litigation experience in the area of family law, and jumped into the work of the VLP without hesitation.  Since getting involved with the VLP, Judie has taken on five custody/visitation cases, five support cases and two uncontested divorces.  Some of these cases have been very complicated and have developed into cases involving orders of protection, and Judie has managed to get excellent results.  To date Judie has provided over 300 hours of pro bono services to the VLP.  In January 2013, Judie opened up her own practice where she focuses on family and matrimonial law.

VLP: Please give us a brief overview of your education; area of practice; how long you’ve been volunteering with the VLP; and any other biographical information you’d like us to know.

JI: I received my undergraduate degree in Economics from Boston University. Thereafter, I started attending law school at the University of South Carolina School of Law but decided that Touro College was a better fit in that it was very public service oriented and I always hoped that I could use my education and training to help the community and those in need in one way or another. I have been volunteering with the VLP since the Spring of 2012.

VLP: How did you become involved with the Volunteer Lawyers Project and what types of pro bono cases have you handled though the VLP?

JI: I became involved with the Volunteer Lawyers Project because it is one of the few volunteer opportunities for attorneys in Brooklyn. It is well known in the borough and has a high reputation. I volunteer mainly in Family Court.

VLP: Why do you do pro bono work?

JI: I enjoy helping those in need. The legal process is difficult and draining both emotionally and financially, and I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for individuals who are barely able to get by. For many lay people, attorneys seem like the gate keepers of the judiciary. I’m a big believer in “sharing the wealth” and that with any gift comes a responsibility of sharing it in whichever way possible.

VLP: What are your recreational activities/pastimes?

JI: I love to spend time with friends and family, yoga, oil painting, reading, and exploring the outdoors.

VLP: What would you tell other attorneys who are thinking about volunteering with the VLP?

 JI: Volunteering is great. Unfortunately, I am sure all attorneys run into clients that are in need; however, such clients are screened through the initial phone call. Representing a client when I know that they are not going to pay, and that I do it fully for their benefit, keeps me down to earth and I believe makes me a better, more understanding  attorney for my paying clients.  Being able to help clients fight for their basic and fundamental rights such as the right to have a meaningful relationship with a child is just touching and empowering. A lot of what goes on in the area I volunteer in is very emotional and raw and unfortunately, a large amount of the litigants in Family Court truly cannot afford an attorney- even if they do not qualify for a free attorney. I enjoy being able to alleviate some of that burden. I personally think volunteering is a great way to supplement a legal career.

VLP: Any additional comments you may have?

 JI: This is an incredible organization with an amazing staff and I hope to have the opportunity to continue volunteering throughout my career.

 

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by Diana Wooden