L. Spiezia HeadshotThis month we would like to highlight Lauren Spiezia, a LiveHelp Volunteer for LawHelpNY.

LawHelpNY.org is a website designed to help low-income New Yorkers solve their legal problems. Our volunteers staff LiveHelp, an online, real-time chat service that directs users towards relevant self-help materials, legal services organizations, and court information. Spiezia shares with us a little bit about her journey and what drove her to become a LiveHelp volunteer.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your law school journey.

I grew up in Monmouth County, New Jersey. Previously, I earned an undergraduate journalism and political science degree and aimed to become a reporter covering politics. About halfway through college, my goals shifted to the legal field because, while I have always loved to write, I wanted a career centered around advocacy. Now, in my second year at Syracuse University College of Law, my goal is to become a litigator. In law school, I’m dedicated to gaining as much practical experience as possible in as many different legal workplace environments as I can. I’m also very involved at my law school and love to learn as much from others as possible.

Why did you choose to volunteer as a LiveHelp Operator?

I found out about the LiveHelp Operator program through Pro Bono Net and LawHelpNY from some of my law school classmates who had volunteered before. When I learned more about this organization, I also researched past volunteers’ experiences. I was particularly moved by the sheer breadth of information and resources available. Especially as someone who aims to eventually practice law in New York, I knew volunteering with this organization would be a great opportunity to help those who have limited access to legal services while also familiarizing myself with the legal landscape in so many different areas of state law.

How has working as a LiveHelp Operator impacted you?

Working as a LiveHelp Operator has taught me even more about the importance of breaking down the barriers between the legal profession/judicial system and the public. Speaking with chat users, some of whom were in very vulnerable situations, pushed me to think outside of the box at times to find ways to make legal information - which was sometimes complex - accessible and understandable. I will certainly take this lesson with me for the rest of my career and into my work with my future clients once I am a licensed attorney.

What advice would you give to future volunteers?

Don’t be afraid to talk to chat users like real people because, well, they are. There are countless situations that chat users may be in when they reach out to LawHelpNY, but one thing remains consistent– they are putting their trust in volunteers to find them the proper information that will help them help themselves (whether that’s reaching out to a referred legal professional or becoming educated on how to take the proper steps in their situation). How you phrase your messages to chat users is integral in letting them know that behind the small text boxes on their screen is a real person that wants to connect them to the information and resources they need.