Part 1: Volunteer Katrina Hoch


Katrina Hoch is not your typical legal services volunteer. She isn’t a law student. She isn’t a lawyer. She isn’t a paralegal. Instead, in October 2009, she was awarded her Ph.D. in Communication and Media at UC San Diego. Yes, THAT San Diego, the one in California.

How long has she been working at the Greenville SCLS office?

At the time of the interview – about 1 week.

How did she end up at as a volunteer for legal services?

For that we need to delve into her dissertation entitled The Politics of Visibility: Transparency, Secrecy, and the United States Judiciary. Ok, we won’t delve too deeply; simply enough to know that she is interested in transparency in courts and the legal framework. From there it’s not difficult to imagine that transparency in the courts would lead to openness in the courts which leads to access to the courts with a natural end result being equal access to the courts – which leads us to legal services.

How did she make the jump from California to South Carolina?

Ah yes, that would be the spouse, a Clemson University professor who happens to be friends with the Greenville SCLS managing attorney, Kirby Mitchell.

What is she working on?

Some intakes. Some legal research.

What lessons has she learned from the experience?

Before doing some of the intakes, I don’t think I realized the difference between having money and not having money – in the legal field. It’s simply not the same for people without money. The people contacting SCLS have very complicated problems that are extremely difficult to address without an attorney. And their problems can multiply very quickly.

I have been very impressed with the speed in which the staff responds. Yesterday someone called SCLS about a hearing next Monday, and another called about a hearing next Wednesday. I submitted the information to the team and already this morning I learned that attorneys have been assigned.

It’s evident that lack of resources really hurts people. And of the calls we receive, most everyone sounds deserving of assistance.

Has she enjoyed her volunteer experience?

Even though it’s been a short while, it has already been a great experience. I would definitely encourage others to volunteer here.

And one of the most impressive things about her work at SCLS?

The attorneys and staff here have such broad knowledge of the issues; they are definitely working in a broad mix and not shoved into one specialty.

-RFW

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