Pro Bono Net would like to recognize the thousands of volunteer lawyers who make a huge difference for those in need and the incredibly important work of pro bono volunteers in building our capacity to meet the vast unmet need for civil legal services. Today, in honor of National Celebrate Pro Bono Week, we’re sharing the profile of Nisha Sandhu, a volunteer with Southeastern Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS).
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in pro bono legal work.
I’m a solo practitioner with a family law and criminal appellate practice, both of which are demanding and very rewarding. I grew up surrounded by volunteerism, which was a priority for my parents. My father actively participated in various community projects. He had and still has a strong sense of civic duty, responsibility and humanity, so it was a no brainer that I would give back to my community in the same way. For me, I chose pro bono legal work for three reasons: 1) there’s a tremendous need in our community for legal services, 2) I’ve been blessed with curiosity and the ability to solve problems, and 3) I have a duty to use those abilities to better the world around me. For me, the verse, For everyone to whom much has been given, from him much will be required (Luke 12:48 (NKJV)), is truth. I have my Dad to thank for that.
What kind of pro bono work are you involved in?
I handle mostly divorce and custody pro bono cases. These are very emotionally wrenching areas for the parties going through them and can be difficult to navigate for those who are unrepresented.
Can you share a highlight from a memorable case?
One of my first cases involved a young lady seeking a divorce from her husband who was incarcerated. He’d been involved in drugs and she’s been through so much and had a young child she was raising despite all she’d been through. During our first conversation, she told me her story and after discussing a few details, she politely asked whether I’d be able to handle her case or whether she would have to “get a real lawyer.” We were on the phone, so I chuckled to myself a little and assured her that I was, in fact, handling her case and, what’s more, I was a real attorney. Since that time, I’ve helped her with various other issues that have come up for her family and she’s been one of the best clients I’ve had.
Southeast Louisiana Legal Services offers civil legal aid to low-income people in Southeast Louisiana. Our mission is to achieve justice for low-income people in Louisiana by enforcing and defending their legal rights through civil legal aid, advocacy and community education. SLLS is Louisiana’s largest provider of free civil legal aid and works with government and public service agencies to secure justice for persons in need.