Last week, Patrick Reynolds, the Pro Bono Net and Montana Legal Services Association 2013 AmeriCorps VISTA, wrapped up his year of service. We conducted an interview with him to reflect on his experience and learn more about what’s next for Patrick. Join us in thanking Patrick for his hard work on behalf of the Access to Justice Community!
Pro Bono Net: What interested you in the VISTA program and in service with Pro Bono Net specifically?
Patrick Reynolds: I first became interested in the VISTA program because I wanted an adventure. I had never done any major volunteer work before, or been to Montana, and it seemed like a situation where I would be challenged and forced to learn and adapt, while also doing something worthwhile. I have had a long-standing interest in law and I knew I wanted a VISTA position related to legal aid. I also liked the idea of collaborating with the national LawHelp network and having an impact beyond just Montana.
PBN: Tell us about some of the projects you’ve worked on in the past year.
PR: I’ve worked on a number of projects this year, including writing partner profiles and creating media contact lists, toolkits, and webinar summaries. I also worked on a number of smaller projects involving video editing, Photoshop image alteration, and adding items to the SWEB support site. In addition, I gave several presentations on LawHelp Coordinator Calls.
PBN: What was your favorite project and why?
PR: My favorite project was definitely the Google Analytics Toolkit. It was much more complicated than I expected it to be at first, but I ended up learning a lot of new information. The Google Analytics Toolkit was very heavy on the research phase, which I really enjoyed. The Google Analytics Toolkit also involved writing, video editing, and a presentation on a coordinator call, so I got to use and develop a lot of different skills over the course of the one project.
PBN: What are some takeaways from your service with Pro Bono Net, in personally and professionally?
PR: In terms of personal takeaways, I learned a lot about the state of access to justice in this country, and I will absolutely continue to support programs like Pro Bono Net in my personal life regardless of where I end up working. I have ended up directing friends to LawHelp sites several times already this year and I’m sure I will continue to do so in the future. Professionally, I feel I have improved as a writer, learned a great deal about web analytics, improved my overall organization skills, and formed some more solid career goals.
PBN: How will your experience help you going forward, professional and personally?
PR: My year of service with AmeriCorps has helped me realize that I would like a career in the nonprofit sector, preferably working in a legal aid related nonprofit. I have made a lot of new contacts over the last year, both professionally and personally through communicating with people in the LawHelp network and through the VISTA program.
PBN: What are you looking to do now and how has the VISTA experience influenced your goals?
PR: If possible I would like to find a job somewhere at a legal aid nonprofit. I have really appreciated how friendly and helpful the employees of Pro Bono Net have been all year. My interactions with MLSA, Legal Services State Support, OneJustice, and other organizations have also left a very positive impression. My move from Michigan to Montana also helped me realize that I can handle leaps into the unknown fairly well, and while I would at this point prefer a non-Americorps job, I would not be opposed to signing up for a second term with AmeriCorps if I could find a similar position somewhere in the country. After my year of service, I feel like I have a much more coherent goal for my future, as well as the tools to help me go after that goal.