Five years ago, Attorney Terry Young became involved with Legal Action of Wisconsin’s Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP), working on the Tenants’ Rights Project. Young, who works as Assistant General Counsel & Assistant Secretary for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, said he was drawn to pro bono work by a deeply rooted core value of helping others, a value he observed in his parents, and by his faith, which teaches the importance of giving to those in need. He noted that he has had to the good fortune to work for companies that encourage their employees to volunteer.
In his pro bono work, Young regularly meets with VLP clients who have landlord-tenant problems and evaluates their cases. He may give them advice about how to pursue their claims or defenses pro se, or he may represent them himself. “I was drawn to landlord-tenant law because it’s an area where there can be a lot of abuses because so many people are unaware of their rights,” said Young.
Patricia Risser, who served as VLP Coordinator at Legal Action until her retirement last month, described Young as “a great example of the important pro bono work contributed by lawyers in busy corporate practice. Young’s consistency and willingness to do the legal work his clients need make him a pro bono role model.” She cited a case in which he assisted a client in getting her security deposit returned after the landlord failed to remediate a bedbug infestation, and another where the landlord refused to return rent paid by the client before her rent assistance check reached the landlord.
Young also serves on the board of Neighborhood House, a Milwaukee nonprofit that provides early childhood, teen and adult programs along with refugee services. “My work for Neighborhood House fits into my life theme of working to make positive changes for those who are less fortunate,” Young said.
When asked what he would say to encourage more lawyers to consider pro bono work, Young said, “When you do this, what you get back is immeasurable. People are grateful that someone took the time to talk to them, to help them and to educate them a little about their rights. You have to be truly motivated by the process, and you have to step into the client’s shoes. To someone with limited income, having a security deposit returned is huge. When you see that expression on someone’s face, there is no greater reward.”