We are so thrilled to introduce you to our featured Justice Bus Rider, Devin Kinyon!
Devin is an Assistant Clinical Professor at Santa Clara University School of Law where he oversees academic support programming. The amazing thing is, during his time at University of San Francisco School of Law, Devin attended 6 Justice Bus trips, traveling over 1448.2 miles to reach those in need – wow!
Devin wanted to share with all of you his experiences as a Justice Bus rider, and what motivates him to give back!
Thank you Devin, we are so honored to have you in our network!
1.) What’s the most inspirational memory you have from your time spent participating in the Justice Bus Project?
I still remember my very first client. I was helping out with some family law cases and worked with a woman who was filing for divorce. Her husband had left her, and after months of waiting for him to return she decided to divorce. What struck me at the time was how young she was. I was 30 at the time of my first Justice Bus trip, and she was much younger than me. And I’d grown-up in rural Northern California, not far from where we were volunteering. So as I helped her fill-out the divorce petition, I couldn’t help seeing myself and so many people I grew-up with in her experience. She was incredibly grateful, which made me feel good. But more importantly, I realized how lucky I was to have had the privilege to get a good education and go to law school. I have so many wonderful opportunities that many of our clients would never have. She was an important reminder of that, and I continue to think of her when I’m helping out other clients in need.
2.) What’s the strangest/funniest thing that you have witnessed on a Justice Bus trip?
It was very weird to receive the respect from the Justice Bus clients that we got. I had no legal experience before law school, and had never interacted with legal clients. During the first few Justice Bus trips, we would be helping clients complete forms, or conducting interviews on behalf of the attorneys. Every time we met a client, they would treat us with incredible respect – probably well beyond what we deserved. In all honestly it freaked me out a bit since I didn’t feel like I’d done anything to earn that respect. Over time I came to understand that lawyers represent such a valuable resource in some communities that it’s a huge deal to have access to one, even if that “lawyer” is just a law student. Their need for legal services and respect for the role that I was playing made me want to do my very best for them. I continue to feel that way aboutmy legal volunteer work.
3.) What motivates you to do pro bono work and why do you chose to participate in the Justice Bus model of pro bono?
I grew-up in a working class family. We didn’t have a lot of money, but whatever we could do to help others, we did. My family ran a food bank out of my dad’s union hall. My mom, who ran a small day care out of our home, always took care of people’s kids at low- or no-cost. My grandmother volunteered at a senior center. These were just the norm in our world. When I went to college, and ultimately law school, I knew that kind of service would continue to be a priority for me. And being able to do it was a part of the Justice Bus was doubly welcome – I could do meaningful service, and help out people who came from communities a lot like the one I grew-up in.
4.) Where do you work now and how do you incorporate pro bono into your career?
I’m incredibly lucky to serve as a faculty member at the Santa Clara University School of Law. I oversee our academic support programming and help students get ready for the Bar Exam. I love working in higher education, and particularly at a Jesuit University, because the sense of service permeates my work. I have students who come from so many different backgrounds and experiences, and I get to help them undertake the huge challenge that is law school. I really feel that I’m meeting my mission when I see a student pass the Bar who really had to work throughout school to make it – because of that effort and commitment I know they’re going to be a great attorney and excellent exemplar for our profession. Outside of work, I volunteer with the Alameda County Lawyers in the Library Program and with the Alameda County Schools Mock Trial program. Giving back is fundamental to being a lawyer, and I’m happy to be able to do so.
5.) What fictional social justice hero do you most admire and why?
There’s a woman named Anna Madrigal in the Tale of the City books by Armistead Mauphin. She’s a landlord who effectively becomes a surrogate mother for her group of tenants in San Francisco. She’s probably not the typical social justice hero that most people would think of, but I really love and respect the part of the character that’s all about bringing people together. Those books demonstrate how important family and friendship are, regardless of bloodlines, gender, or sexual orientation (There’s lots of juicy bits too)!
Thank you Devin!