EQUAL JUSTICE WORKS FELLOW, CLASS OF 2010

Anneliese Gryta

Name of Host Organization: Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc.
City, State: Toledo, Ohio
Issue area: Community Economic Development/Microfinance and Related Transactional Legal Projects
Sponsor: Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation

The Inspiration

While I was aware of the vast civil legal services justice gap during law school, it wasn't until I spent my 2L summer at The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland that I really understood what that meant in the lives of individuals and families. During that summer, I was able to work with a fantastic attorney who introduced me to community economic development work. There, I was able to see how attorneys can bring transactional legal support to community organizations - which planted the seeds for my current microenterprise project.

The Project

Many times, legal services programs target the symptoms of poverty, but not the root - economic disadvantage. Through this fellowship, I aim to provide essential tools to those looking to transform their economic circumstances through entrepreneurship. To improve access to credit, I am working launch a new microcredit program from the ground up. To respond to the void in legal assistance for micro entrepreneurs, I provide direct legal services and create opportunities for transactional pro bono.

Biography

Hometown:

Buffalo, New York

Law school:

Making the connection:

Before law school, I worked as a violin teacher. At one of my schools, the administrators could not even allow instruments to be sent home with children for practice, because they had lost so many instruments to the regular events of households’ poverty; the ongoing crisis of repeat evictions, the relative who pawned them for cash. It was infuriating to meet so many talented kids who would never get the most basic chances in life. I knew I would slowly go crazy if I didn't empower myself with a more effective set of tools.

Surviving law school:

I definitely suggest that you find a group of people who are similarly motivated, but don't be xenophobic against the non-public-interest types. You need allies in all places.

Recommended books:

Anything by Herman Hesse.

Favorite website(s):

I hit up NPR.com pretty regularly for my Diane Rehm fix. Also, now that I've been a practicing attorney for a little while, I spend an awful lot of time visiting the online dockets of the courts I practice in. It's worse than Facebook.

Music I love:

Mahler No. 6, Bach Goldberg Variations, Aphex Twin

Words to live by:

Do what you love, love what you do.

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