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).

 

Nisha Sandhu
Southeast Louisiana Legal Services

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.

 

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.  To wrap up our Pro Bono Week celebration, we are taking a break from our Volunteering Through Technology Initiative to bring you a bonus volunteer profile! Our bonus profile highlights the work of R. Gary Higgins with Southeast Louisiana Legal Services’ Northshore Pro Bono Project. We are very proud to showcase the volunteers from our pro bono community and hope they may inspire you to get involved as well.

R. Gary Higgins, Jr., Northshore Pro Bono Project Volunteer
Southeast Louisiana Legal Services

R. Gary Higgins, Jr.R. Gary Higgins, Jr., a local pro bono hero from Covington, Louisiana, has been an unwavering volunteer for Southeast Louisiana Legal Services’ (SLLS) Northshore Pro Bono Project donating hundreds of hours to expand access to justice for vulnerable people. Gary began volunteering with SLLS while attending law school. He has continued to donate his time and talents after becoming a licensed attorney. Gary practices in the areas of family law, real estate, and successions. He is never shy about taking on new challenges and lending a hand to help people in need.

For the past year, Gary has regularly staffed SLLS’ Washington Parish Self Help Resource Center in rural Washington Parish, an area with a 26% poverty rate and no physical civil legal aid office located there.  When SLLS decided to launch a new Self-Help Desk in St. Tammany Parish in June 2016, Gary answered the call to service. He has already donated almost 30 hours to this brand new initiative.

Gary volunteered at the Give NOLA Day event in May helping to set up and staff a table as well as encouraging donations for the cause. While in law school, he volunteered over a semester doing legal research and drafting pleadings. While studying for the bar he continued to handle legal research tasks and drafted domestic pleadings and memoranda. Once admitted to practice, Gary also took on pro bono divorce and custody cases. He has volunteered at all four of SLLS’s Wills for Heroes events where wills and other estate planning documents are drafted for first responders. No task is too big or too small for Gary. Always ready to help, he has even grabbed a ladder and changed out light bulbs in our Covington office when needed!

Mr. Higgins graduated from Southeastern Louisiana University, where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in English with a minor in History. He then went on to law school at Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he graduated magna cum laude. While attending law school, he served as a teaching assistant for legal writing as well as a senior editor on the law review.

 


SLLS LouisianaSoutheast 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.