GPSolo Magazine - July/August 2006

Giving Back

She rushes quickly but cautiously as she crosses each street. Her heart is pounding from the adrenaline. Eagerly approaching her house, her jacket is swinging back and forth in the wind. She unlocks the door, turns the knob, and pushes the door open with great force.

“Mom!” she calls out with excitement. “I’ll get a chance to work on the school newspaper. The teachers said that the students who help might even get their work published in the paper.”

“Yeah—but what about all your school work?” asks the mother. “It’s more important for you to think about that,” she adds.

“I’ll be able to do it. Besides, they said they need help; they need volunteers. Otherwise, Mom, how will they meet their goal of getting the school paper out?”

That excited girl rushing home from school was me more than 30 years ago, and I continue to maintain the same passion and obligation for volunteerism today.

I am the epitome of the sole practitioner. I perform every task from the janitor to chief executive officer of the company. I started my practice approximately two years ago on a shoestring budget. The cash flow is still a trickle today.

Nonetheless, in the midst of my career challenges and priorities to maintain my solo practice, I volunteer my legal skills to a nonprofit organization, the Legal Hotline for Michigan Seniors. Since I opened my practice, I have provided more than 300 hours of volunteer legal services to the hotline. As with all of my prior volunteer commitments, this has been extraordinarily rewarding for me. My commitment to assist the elderly is rooted, at least in part, in my own experiences of discrimination and prejudice. I feel a duty to invest my time in efforts that will eradicate unfair treatment of others based on classifications that are totally out of their control, whether age or (in my case) ethnicity.

One of my mentors once mentioned to me, do not be so modest that you do not let people know that you volunteer; your acts might be the encouragement that motivates others to become volunteers. November 13-19, 2006, is World Kindness Week. November 13 is World Kindness Day. I challenge you to complete a simple act of kindness by giving at least one elderly person the number to call for free legal advice and counsel (e.g., in Michigan it’s the Legal Hotline for Michigan Seniors at 800/347-LAWS). Moreover, I challenge you to undertake an additional act of public service (e.g., volunteer two hours) during this time. You will gain a personal reward while you contribute to the integrity of the legal field and the well-being of your community.


Valerie L. Rice is an attorney and counselor at law in Grand Ledge, Michigan. She can be reached at


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