It turned out that finding a new part-time successions attorney was easier than we thought – she was already right under our roof!
Many of you already know Jenny Abshier – she’s been a volunteer at The Project for the past several years and was a 2012 recipient of our Distinguished Service Award. Welcome Jenny!
In her new part-time role, Jenny will be managing the succession case load and working with paralegal Zakiya LaGrange and our volunteer attorneys to continue clearing up succession issues for clients. She’ll be in the office for about 30 hours each week on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Jenny got hands-on experience in public interest law during her final year at Loyola Law School, where she worked as a student practitioner in the Loyola Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice under the supervision of attorney Luz Molina. After graduating from Loyola in 2009, Jenny then worked as a law clerk at Usry, Weeks & Matthews. In 2011, she opened her own bankruptcy practice, and not long after she began volunteering at The Project.
“Volunteering has always been important to me and I have been volunteering here for years. I didn’t realize the great need for civil legal services that existed in our community until law school. It opened my eyes in so many ways. It’s given me so many opportunities to learn and develop as a lawyer. This position is yet another opportunity in my professional career to grow and give back,” says Jenny.
As the new staff successions attorney, Jenny will continue to face the same challenges that often slows the process of succession down - getting documents from clients and locating all of their family members. But Jenny is pragmatic and resourceful, relying on her practical skills and patience gained from her years as a solo practitioner to overcome these recurring challenges.
“We are thrilled to have Jenny on board with us – she’s a familiar face to our clients, our staff and our volunteers and there’s something comforting in that. We are fortunate that she wanted to take on this position – running a solo practice is tough work – and we are gaining the benefit of that experience. Her work over the years as a volunteer has given her a great perspective on how things work and she’s already hit the ground running,“ said Executive Director Jennifer Rizzo-Choi.
Jenny (Abshier) is excited about working at The Project because her pro bono clients will benefit from the fact that she will now be in the office more often than she was as a volunteer. But, it goes beyond that.
“I feel that my previous volunteer work has enabled me to see my position as more than a job - this is an amazing opportunity, which I am so grateful for, to be a part of something larger than my solo practice. I’m also very excited to be working with Jennifer Rizzo-Choi. Her work in social justice before coming to The Project is inspirational and aspirational. I have a feeling she is going to really take The Project places in the coming years and I am thrilled to be a part of it,” explains Jenny.
In addition to The Project’s recognition in 2012, The Louisiana State Bar Association (LSBA) presented her with their Pro Bono Publico Award in 2013 and she was recently named as a 2017 Superlawyers’ Rising Star.
When she’s not at The Project, Jenny works at her solo bankruptcy practice and spends time with her family, including a hard-to-keep-up-with 14-year old and a menagerie of pets. She’s also working to improve her Spanish skills so she can be more useful to The Project’s many Hispanic-speaking clients.
Yes, it always does come back to Jenny’s work with The Project, as a volunteer, and now as a staff member – and with good reason.
“I am the biggest proponent of volunteering with The Project. I encourage lawyers to volunteer to learn. The resources The Project has to help its volunteer attorneys are invaluable, including mentors. But also, whenever I hear a colleague expressing discontent with the law firm life, I encourage that lawyer to take a volunteer case and remember how great it feels to help a person again. We all get caught behind a desk and under paper – we work files or billable hours, and we forget the faces behind the files. We are so privileged to be able, in our everyday lawyer jobs, to make such differences in people’s lives,” she says.
With two dynamic Jennies in the house – the possibilities are unlimited!