“So what is it you do on the legal team?”
I get this question a lot, and depending on the day’s events, I give a different answer. We have all sorts of projects going on, from individual advocacy for people facing any number of legal issues, to bigger campaigns that we do in conjunction with other legal and community organizations.
Sometimes working in the legal office feels a lot like playing Whack-a-Mole, the arcade game where you hammer down the plastic moles as they keep randomly popping up. New issues pop up everyday. Someone stops in needing help filling out the complicated application for “Road Home” state funds, or just getting help finding a notary. Phone calls come in about trying to stop a home from being demolished, or someone being evicted from their homes because their post-Katrina rental assistance is being discontinued before they have a chance to appeal.
It’s a lot to take in. You do the best you can. You try to keep an even pace, and try not to get flustered when five things are happening at once and tensions run high. You try to remember that you can’t do it all, so that what you are able to do is effective.
And you also really come to love what you’re doing. I work with so many amazing people. We laugh a lot, we teach another new skills, we inspire one another, we drive eachother crazy with our pet peeves and personality quirks, we make each other coffee and fight over the bathroom. We carve out a new way of living and working and serving in a community recovering from a disaster. We say goodbye to volunteers who have become close friends and welcome new people wanting to do something to help. And when we’re so tired we can barely lift our mole-whacking mallets, we go out for a couple of beers and sit back in amazement at our crazy existance in this amazing city of contradictions.