I-Hsuan Lin grew up in Taiwan and immigrated to the U.S. when she began her graduate studies. She graduated with an LL.M from The George Washington University Law School, in Washington D.C., and an LL.M from Erasmus University in Rotterdam, Netherlands. She is currently working as a law clerk in a private law firm, assisting immigration attorneys with their cases. She recently passed the New York Bar and will be pursuing a career as an attorney in Southern California. She has volunteered dozens of hours with our Citizenship Project and is currently one of their most passionate volunteers.
How did you learn about Advancing Justice-LA?
I found Advancing Justice-LA on CaliforniaProBono.org while looking for pro bono opportunities in Los Angeles. Initially, I was seeking a pro bono opportunity in order to fulfill the 50-hour pro bono requirement for the New York Bar. However, after volunteering with Advancing Justice-LA, I found myself really enjoying volunteering and making contributions to my own community by assisting community members with their citizenship application paperwork. This feeling of self-accomplishment is simply from helping people in need who are not able to afford legal help. I know that the importance of community involvement is something I will always carry with me from my time volunteering with Advancing Justice-LA.
What prompted you to get involved?
In addition to fulfilling the 50-hour pro bono requirement I mentioned above, my own experiences as an immigrant from Asia prompted me to get involved with Advancing Justice-LA. I know how important it is to have someone you can trust to help you go through each step of the immigration process, and I’ve been lucky to be able to access these resources as a law school graduate and law firm employee. However, I know that not everyone is so lucky, and therefore I wanted to help hopeful immigrants as best as I can, and reduce their anxieties during this process. Furthermore, I have received so much kindness since I came to the U.S. and I wanted to pay this forward to others.
What have you learned or how have you been personally affected by your experience as an Advancing Justice-LA volunteer?
Before engaging in this volunteer experience, I thought that time was money, especially for an attorney. However, my mindset has been totally changed since I joined the volunteer forces of Advancing Justice-LA. Even though I am providing free services to others, and have spent hours of my time doing so, I absolutely never feel that I am wasting my billable hours. Actually, I feel that I personally gain more from volunteering. I’ve learned that being an attorney means serving the underserved and underprivileged, and treating them with compassion while assisting them.
Do you have an inspirational story you can briefly tell about your experience volunteering?
I remember I met a woman from the Philippines. When she came to me at the workshop, I could see from her expression that she was a little bit nervous. When I started working on her citizenship application, she started telling me about her anxieties about her application and shared her life story with me. After learning of her anxiety, I began explaining the whole process to her in a lot of detail. Once I completed her application, she told me that thanks to my help, she felt more confident about her case. She also told me that I actually made her day and she really appreciated our assistance. It was a huge encouragement to me as a newer volunteer to citizenship work at the time.
What advice would you give other individuals who want to participate in volunteer or pro bono work at the organization?
It is a wonderful experience to participate in volunteering with Advancing Justice-LA. You can see the difference you are making in people’s lives. Kindly pay attention to each person coming to you and listen to his or her individual story. You’ll learn a lot just talking with your clients from different cultures and learning something new from them, and it’s all an important part of their pathway to citizenship!