Attorney Amber Williams accepted the 2019 Chief Justice’s Voluntary Bar Association Pro Bono Service Award alongside Jill Simon on behalf of The Young Lawyers Section of the Orange County Bar Association for outstanding efforts in support of pro bono legal services.
Amber is a founding member of the Young Lawyers Section (YLS), and over the past two years, has helped plan and present a signature pro bono service event: Wills for Heroes.
The Wills for Heroes event started with an idea and a small grant. “No one person is too small to make a difference,” says Amber. “We just asked ourselves how we could use our legal skills to help others.”
The YLS recognized that there was a great need for estate planning by firefighters, emergency medical personnel, police officers, sheriff’s deputies and members of the armed services. The YLS further recognized that its members had the legal skills to fulfill this need.
“These are the people who need estate planning the most given their line of work,” says Amber, who has worked at Coye Law for 9 years now and runs our probate and family law departments. “Some have limited incomes, so we are saving an average of $500-$1000 per family.”
The YLS held its first Wills for Heroes event in April of 2017. There were more than 30 volunteers, including several attorneys from Coye Law Firm, and more than 80 “heroes” served.
Every will needs: 1 attorney, 1 notary, and 2 witnesses. The event had an assembly line approach:
Hero arrives at their appointment time
Hero meets with an attorney to draft the will
Will is printed out
Hero takes will to witness station to get witness signatures
The will is notarized by the on-site notary
Hero leaves with a full executed estate plan: a will, a living will and power of attorney
A year later, the second Wills for Heroes event drew more than 50 volunteers and served more than 100 people. “We wouldn’t have cared if only 5 people showed up,” says Amber. “Our goal was to help anyone that needed it and give back. All it took was a few volunteers and few hours on a Saturday.”
For 2019, the Young Lawyers Section will have its hands full: There already is a waiting list of more than 200 people for the April event!
On behalf of all of us at Coye Law, we offer a huge "Congrats!" to Amber, Jill, and everyone at the YLS that helped serve hundreds of heroes.