VAP Attorney of the Month
The Volunteer Attorney Program is launching a monthly Attorney Appreciation Feature to show our gratitude for the many outstanding volunteers who make our mission possible. We will highlight one of our volunteers each month on our website and on our Facebook page. Thank you volunteers! We appreciate every one of you!
November 2017 Attorney of the Month – Tracy Podpeskar
November 3rd is National ‘Love Your Lawyer Day’! (Yes, really – a national holiday.) So we thought it was only fitting that we kick off our Attorney of the Month Feature this November by showing some love to Tracy Podpeskar.
Tracy is a Partner at the Trenti Law Firm in Virginia, MN. Tracy is a highly skilled and effective family law attorney. Tracy has been volunteering with the Volunteer Attorney Program for approximately ten years, representing a number of clients in need of assistance with complex family law matters.
Recently, we asked Tracy to spend some time telling us a bit more about herself, and about why she chooses to volunteer with VAP.
Tracy grew up in Virginia, Minnesota. She says she knew by the time she was in the 9th grade that she wanted to be a lawyer. Tracy attended the University of Minnesota and San Diego State University, graduating Summa Cum Laude with Bachelor of Arts degrees in political science and criminology.
Tracy said her plan since high school was that she would take one year off after college and then go on to law school. Instead, Tracy welcomed the unexpected surprise of becoming pregnant with her first child. Tracy decided to delay her law school plans for three years and instead gained valuable experience working in the field as a paralegal.
Providing for her daughter was an additional incentive to move ahead with law school. Tracy chose to attend the William Mitchell Law School in St. Paul, MN. While excelling in law school and caring for her young family, Tracy was also giving back to the community as an intern and volunteer for Legal Assistance of Dakota County. Tracy set an example early in her legal career by working on behalf of those in need for the entire three years she was a law student. It is no surprise that Tracy graduated from William Mitchell Law School Magna Cum Laude.
It was with the Trenti Law Firm that Tracy had her start – working as a legal secretary and paralegal prior to law school. Tracy has been with the Trenti Law Firm for the entirety of her legal career.
In addition to volunteering with VAP, Tracy also serves as a board member for Legal Aid of Northeastern Minnesota (LASNEM). She is also a member of the Range Bar Association, the Minnesota Bar Association and the American Bar Association.
Tracy likes to spend her free time with her two daughters, Jordan (age 15) and Hayden (age 7), which includes watching plenty of volleyball games. She also enjoys good food and the company of her friends and significant other.
We asked Tracy – why do you choose to volunteer your time with the Volunteer Attorney Program?
Tracy: “There is a tremendous need for pro-bono and low-bono legal services in the area of family law. In addition, I find that many cases can settle if a party is provided appropriate legal advice.”
What do you enjoy most about volunteering your time as an attorney for clients in need?
Tracy: “I find that there is incredible gratitude from many clients who are in need of legal services but do not have the financial resources to afford an attorney, and who do not qualify for Legal Aid.”
Is there a particular client or occasion of volunteering that comes to mind for you, when you reflect back on your time as a volunteer attorney?
Tracy: “Yes, I recently represented a client who would not fare well in the court system without an attorney as her ex is very controlling and verbally abusive. She was very appreciative of my services and was deserving of pro bono legal services. Assisting clients such as these makes it all worth it!”
VAP Annual Fall Pro Bono Celebration
The Volunteer Attorney Program invites you to attend our Fall Pro Bono Celebration CLE event, Beyond Status: Meeting the Legal Needs of Today’s Immigrants, on Thursday, November 9 from 5:00pm – 6:30pm.
The current national discussion on immigration creates an opportunity for our legal community to respond to the urgent legal needs of immigrants. These needs extend beyond just the question of legal status and include many basic issues such as access to safe housing, employment and government benefits.
This program will feature a moderated panel discussion comprised of immigration attorneys and local community members. The panel will discuss how lawyers may assist immigrants on a wide variety of legal issues while making a positive impact in the lives of new Minnesotans through providing pro bono legal services.
We are fortunate to have an outstanding group of panelists for this facilitated discussion:
Moderator: Nora Sandstad, Assistant St. Louis County Attorney, Civil Division
John Keller, Executive Director, Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota
Emily Good, Legal Projects Manager | Minnesota Legal Advice Online Administrator for Legal Services State Support; also Adjunct Clinical Professor for Immigration and Human Rights Law Clinic at the University of Minnesota Law School
Danielle Hendrickson, Staff Attorney, Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid
Shunu Shrestha, Trafficking Program Coordinator, PAVSA
Following an opening address from Judge Dale Harris, this panel will discuss how lawyers may assist immigrants on a wide variety of legal issues while making a positive impact in the lives of new Minnesotans through providing pro bono legal services.
Please RSVP by November 8th to Erica Backstrom.
The event will be held in the Historic City Hall Chambers, in the upstairs of The Blind Pig at 132 E. Superior Street. Appetizers and drinks will be available during social time beginning at 5:00pm. The presentation will begin at 5:30pm.
1.0 Elimination of Bias CLE credits will be applied for. The cost is $25 for attorneys, $10 for community members, and law students free with a valid ID.
National Pro Bono Week – October 23-27
We celebrate the hard work and dedication of our volunteers all year round, but this is a week that has been designated to raise awareness of the need for pro bono civil legal services.
In 2016, VAP provided critical legal services to over 1,200 individuals through the efforts of 180 active volunteer attorneys. In total, our attorneys donated over half a million dollars of pro bono legal services to clients in need in Northeastern Minnesota.
Link to October 2017 Bench & Bar digital edition featuring Pro Bono: http://mnbenchbar.com/2017/10/inspired-to-serve/