Safaa Aly first started volunteering with LiveHelp in the fall of 2020, hoping to find a way to support those in her community with the legal skills that she acquired during her time at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School. The COVID-19 pandemic played a huge role in illuminating the importance of community for Safaa and motivated her to volunteer for LiveHelp. In her own words, Safaa explained that “The pandemic made me think a lot about community and how to help your community members in any way you can, and working pro bono is one way to do that.” This passion for supporting those within her community is what helped motivate Safaa throughout her time with LiveHelp, and her empathy and dedication to helping others was consistently felt by those who turned to her for support on legal issues.
Entering into the legal field was not something that Safaa had always been certain of. After graduating from Amherst College with a degree in English, Safaa spent two years teaching at a boarding school in Jordan — an experience she described as being extremely meaningful to her. It was during this time that Safaa made the decision to go to law school. After being exposed first hand to the refugee crisis and other humanitarian issues, Safaa was motivated to “get concrete skills to advocate for people who cannot advocate for themselves.” During her time at law school, Safaa volunteered with the International Refugee Assistance Project but wanted to find a pro bono opportunity that would allow her to more consistently help those in her immediate community. This led her to LiveHelp where she volunteered each Monday, starting her busy week off with volunteer work — a reminder as to why she started in the legal field in the first place.
When asked about the difficulties of working with LiveHelp, Safaa responded by describing how she felt overwhelmed with the amount of people that needed legal support at first. However, these fears were quelled as she experienced the immense gratitude of those that turned to LiveHelp for assistance with some saying “God bless you” and “you really really helped me so much.” The experience of working with so many kind, gracious people in need of assistance served as a reminder to Safaa of how inaccessible, complicated, and daunting the legal system can be for so many people.
Regarding her future in the legal field, Safaa plans to move to New York and work at a law firm after completing the Bar exam, but doing pro bono work is still something that’s incredibly important to her. On the role that pro bono work will play in the future of her legal career, Safaa said “I hope to pursue it. I definitely make a conscious effort to do it, and it’s something that everyone should do. I 100% think it grounds you, not just with your work and career but personally too.” Her biggest takeaway from her time with LiveHelp has been an increased awareness “to the variety of real everyday legal issues that people in your community are facing that really tremendously impact their lives. Do they have a home to go home to everyday? Do they have a clean or habitable space to live in? Do they have rights to see their children or are they getting their spousal support from whoever is supposed to be paying for it?” This again highlights Safaa’s deep commitment to community support and helping those around you in whatever way you can.
“I think that 100% everybody should volunteer for LiveHelp, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.” Volunteering with LiveHelp allowed Safaa to communicate directly with those that she was helping, an aspect of her work that allowed her to feel firsthand the incredible impact that pro bono work has. LawHelpNY and Pro Bono Net are extremely grateful for Safaa’s expertise and passion in supporting everyday people navigate the intricacies of the American legal system. Thank you, Safaa, and good luck!
LiveHelp is the bilingual chat component of LawHelpNY.org. LiveHelp chat is available in English and Spanish and provides legal assistance, information and referrals to those who have urgent and complex legal needs. Trained volunteers staff LiveHelp from 9 AM-9 PM on weekdays, making this service readily accessible to low-income working clients, individuals in rural areas, or people who may be homebound, elderly or living with disabilities. LiveHelp is also available on other websites powered by Pro Bono Net, including New York Crime Victims Legal Help.
LiveHelp recruits volunteers throughout the year. In order to be considered for our program, please complete our volunteer application and send, along with a copy of your resume to Dennis Brink at firstname.lastname@example.org. The application as well as additional information about volunteering with us can be found here: LiveHelp Program information.