Nikki Clark is a volunteer attorney at the Family Law Day of Court (FLDOC) clinics. The FLDOC clinic is a partnership between VLSC, Alameda County Superior Court, and the Court’s Self-Help Center. At the FLDOC clinic, judges direct VLSC volunteers to help self-represented litigants prepare forms, calculate support amounts, and draft Final Orders After Hearing. We talked to Nikki about her experience with VLSC and in the community.
Why do you volunteer with VLSC?
I believe that the privilege of practicing law encompasses so much more than billable hours. Lawyers are the essential guardians of our system of justice. As guardians, lawyers honor the elusive concept of justice for all and the basic tenets of democracy when they offer pro bono services to indigent litigants with no other possible options for legal representation. The economic inequality in this country has a profound impact on people’s ability to obtain legal services. The divide continues to grow between the minority of people who can afford legal services and the vast majority of people who cannot. This is one way I can pay it forward for all of the limitless economic opportunity afforded to me as a lawyer.
Do you have a particularly memorable VLSC experience?
One pro per day at the Alameda Courthouse, during the morning break, I walked out into the common area on the second floor. I was stopped by a young woman who told me she remembered that I had drafted the order from her previous hearing when I was volunteering with VLSC. She told me that because she had that order, the police were able to enforce it, and prohibit the father of her children from taking the children against her will during her parenting time. She hugged me and told me she was extremely grateful for this service.
What other community activities are you involved in?
I have been very active with the High School Mock Trial competition in Alameda County since 2003. I have coached the Mock Trial team from Oakland Tech, and I have also participated as both a judge and a scorer for the competition. I volunteer as a Judge for the Centerforce Youth Diversion Court in Oakland. I have been a Settlement Officer for the Court to assist family law litigants/attorneys with the settlement of their cases prior to trial. I sit as a Judge Pro Tem in family law departments. I have taught family law classes for both the ACBA and for Cal State East Bay as a volunteer teacher.
What are you listening to on your iPod now?
What is one thing you wish donors and supporters knew about VLSC?
I wish VLSC donors could experience firsthand how much their donations help meet the legal needs of our community and the breadth of services that VLSC makes available to our community. I am a past VLSC Board member. I know firsthand that VLSC has been a tireless and unrelenting force in providing access to justice for so many in our community. The only ceiling on VLSC’s ability to offer more services is the limit of the resources provided by VLSC donors, either through financial contributions or in-service hours.