Volunteering brings personal fulfilment to attorney


Klaudia Nikolli has only been in practice since 2014, but she's already getting her pro-bono career off to a great start as a committed volunteer with the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association (DMBA) Foundation's monthly free legal clinics.

She's so invested in the clinic's work that she even braved last month's major snowstorm to come out to serve clients.

Nikolli cites several reasons why volunteering at the clinics is so important to her.

The first is her heritage. Nikolli moved to the United States with her parents from Albania when she was eleven years old.

"I want to give people who otherwise can't afford it the legal help they need. I know legal counsel is expensive now, just like it was when my parents and I first came to the U.S."

While altruism is her main motivation, Nikolli also stresses how much she values the solid professional experience she's gaining through volunteering at the clinics, which are coordinated in partnership with the Wayne County Self-Help Center, the Third Circuit Court, and the Wayne County Legal Resources Consortium.

"Working at the clinics gives you experience interacting with clients, but the professional benefits don't stop there. You're constantly gaining new skills, from thinking on your feet to researching issues the clients bring up," she says.

"You can only learn so much from books, and these clinics are a great chance to really practice the law, not just read about it."

Nikolli also says that attending the clinics is a good opportunity to establish and maintain professional relationships. For example, Nikolli went to law school with long-time clinic volunteer Alex Dewitt-but the two lost touch after graduation, with Dewitt going on to Butzel and Nikolli starting her career in commercial litigation at Kitch.

Thanks to their commitment to pro-bono service and the clinics, Dewitt and Nikolli are back on each other's professional radar. In addition, during January's clinic, Nikolli met and worked with long-time attorneys to resolve client's issues.

"(DMBAF Access to Justice Administrator) Dennis Donahue is very welcoming and a great resource when I don't know the answer to a client's question-and so are the more experienced attorneys who attend," she says.

Nikolli says that she has signed up to serve at several future clinics because she can tell that her pro-bono work is having a real impact.

"In January I was able to help a domestic violence survivor who had filed a PPO against her abuser," she remembers. "I was able to provide her with resources and advice to take her next steps.

"Another client I worked with just needed someone to listen to their issue. Sometimes, being heard is all our clients really need."

Published: Wed, Mar 23, 2016