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PBCSI volunteers of the month: Lindsey Tobias and Casey Williams

DePaul’s Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative (PBCSI) is delighted to recognize Lindsey Tobias and Casey Williams as the May volunteers of the month. Though Tobias and Williams recently finished their first year of law school, both remained engaged in their community and volunteer efforts to help others. In fact, both were drawn to DePaul because of its public service reputation.  

Both volunteer with PBCSI’s Neighborhood Legal Assistance Project (NLAP), which provides pro bono legal assistance to the homeless in the South Loop. NLAP takes place at a Saturday morning breakfast program for the homeless at Grace Episcopal Church and is staffed entirely with law student volunteers and a supervising attorney. 

Williams has extensive experience working in state government and Tobias studied criminal justice and political science before law school. Tobias and Williams started volunteering with NLAP after they attended the NLAP training at the beginning of spring semester. Since then, they have each spent several Saturdays volunteering with NLAP to help the homeless with their legal issues.  And both of them have found the experience to be rewarding and insightful.  

Tobias said she has particularly enjoyed working directly with clients and being with other law students who are passionate about helping the poor. She was also thrilled to be able to help a client successfully expunge her criminal record, making her eligible for employment. The client returned to let Tobias and the other NLAP volunteers know how much they had helped. 

Williams said he has been able to gain first-hand insight into the issues that impact the poor; things that might not be obvious to others. For example, he has learned how critical it is to have a state ID, though many homeless individuals don’t due to difficult circumstances. This was highlighted for Williams when he assisted a client with the paperwork and homeless waiver to get a state ID, only to have the client return two weeks later to start the process over because her belongings had been stolen. It was then that Williams realized how fleeting progress can be for many of the clients that NLAP serves.  "It is all the more critical to have these free services readily available," said Williams.

NLAP is not the first volunteer project for Tobias and Williams. They both participated in the College of Law’s annual 1L Service Day for incoming first year students. For that service day, Tobias volunteered with Little Brothers/Friends of the Elderly and Williams volunteered at Cornerstone Community Outreach, a homeless shelter in Uptown. Throughout his 1L year, Williams was also heavily involved in helping to organize the Public Interest Law Association auction, which raises money for students who have public interest internships over the summer. Tobias participated in the College of Law’s Pro Bono Staycation where she worked with youth in the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center. She has also been a volunteer with DePaul’s Domestic Violence Courthouse Project. 

Both Tobias and Williams intend to keep volunteering during their law school and legal careers and look forward to future sessions at NLAP.