Interview with Volunteer Paralegal Miyuki Saito
- Why did you decide to volunteer with the SBLC?
During my last term of the PCC paralegal program, my teacher suggested volunteering at the SBLC. After I found from the website that the SBLC had assisted many women, immigrants, and people of color with growing their businesses, I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet ambitious individuals and learn how they build a new business and life. I was excited with the possibility that I might be able to play a small role in making their dream come true.
- What has been the biggest challenge you have faced while volunteering?
At first, I did not understand the function of each assigned task and just focused on completing them. As I gradually became familiar with the three programs, including the differences in eligibility, timeline, and fee structure, I began to see the whole the clinical procedure, from receiving an intake form to sending a closing letter. Once I learned where a task falls in the procedure, all tasks became more interesting and meaningful. Understanding the big picture helped me set my focus and develop the purpose.
- What have you enjoyed the most about your volunteer experience?
I appreciate all intriguing, sometimes challenging, assignments provided by the SBLC staff, who are not only legal professionals but also teachers. I have especially enjoyed the variety of tasks such as entering data, proofreading, drafting, and researching. The academic and friendly atmosphere has made it comfortable for me to ask questions and request new tasks, and detailed feedback has taught me so much. Also, I have liked secretly catching that the nervous expression clients wore when they arrive at the SBLC turns into a smile after meeting their attorney.
- What are your future goals?
Throughout my volunteering experience at the SBLC, I have been supported by many people, including the staff, volunteer attorneys, and legal interns. They taught me that thoughtfulness comes from being conscious of the needs of others, that it is shown by creating opportunities for others to overcome obstacles and grow. My future goal is to become a more reliable and capable person, so that I will be able to put that consciousness into action to help others in the community more than I am now.