Q&A with Christine Derr of Harris, Hunt & Derr, P.A., a current Bay Area Legal Services donor, Sustaining Law Firm member, and pro bono attorney.
Why did your firm become a Sustaining Law Firm?
Our six-attorney firm has always been supportive of civil legal aid and specifically family law/domestic violence matters through Bay Area Legal Services. We consider it a privilege and an obligation and we are grateful to have the opportunity to support Bay Area Legal Services.
Why do you think legal aid is important?
Of course, legal aid is always important, but in times of crisis, such as during this COVID-19 pandemic, I anticipate in the coming months there will be an unprecedented need for legal aid in our community.
As an attorney yourself, can you offer any perspective on the legal challenges that you see emerging as a result of this pandemic?
As a family law attorney, we tend to see increases in divorce and domestic violence when family members are in stressful situations. Add to that being confined together in households and it is a difficult situation. Many individuals in our community are facing layoffs and job insecurity and this will lead to evictions or foreclosures and the uncertainty of keeping a roof over their heads.
Is there a particular pro bono case or defining moment in your legal career that gave you perspective on what it feels like to be without an attorney?
Yes. I will never forget the scared mother of two young children who managed the strength to leave an abusive marriage. She was penniless and she stayed temporarily with her children at Metropolitan Ministries. I was able to assist her with the legal issues, and with the additional resources available through Bay Area Legal, she was able to start heading towards a better future for herself and her children. I still think about her.