Winter 2008 - #6. Interview with Grace Pazdan.

Author:by Robert M. Paolini, Esq.

Vermont Bar Journal


Winter 2008 - #6.

Interview with Grace Pazdan

The Vermont Bar Journal #176, Volume 34, No. 4 WINTER 2008

Interview with Grace Pazdanby Robert M. Paolini, Esq.BOB PAOLINI: This is Tuesday, December 16(fnth), and I am sitting with Grace Pazdan of Vermont Legal Aid. Grace is Vermont's first poverty law fellow, funded by members of the Bar through a private fundraising effort that began in early 2008, and will continue into 2009. Grace, I am not sure it's fair to say that you have begun work for Vermont Legal Aid. I think you have probably worked for some coalition before. In any event, welcome, and congratulations on obtaining this position.

GRACE PAZDAN: Thank you.

BP: Because this is a new concept for Vermont, maybe we should talk about the background to this whole campaign. I am not sure how much of it you really know.

GP: Yes, I am still a little unclear on the details, but I know that it was the result of a very collaborative effort.

BP: Well, it was a campaign that was organized by a group of lawyers working with the Bar Foundation and with the Access to Justice Coalition. It was really led by Spencer Knapp of Dinse, Knapp & McAndrew, P.C., and Joan Wing from Rutland, who formed a committee of people, who basically solicited donations in various parts of the state and were fairly successful in doing that. As I understand it, there will be a new phase to this campaign, beginning early in 2009. When did you first learn about the search for a poverty law fellow?

GP: Actually, fairly recently. I was out to lunch with Justice Johnson, who I clerked for from 2006 to 2008. At the time, I was considering my job options, and have always been interested in public interest work. I had actually done a summer fellowship at Vermont Legal Aid, so I had some connections there and really enjoyed my experience there. When she mentioned there was a poverty law fellowship position that had not yet been filled, it just sounded like a natural fit, and that is when I contacted Legal Aid.

BP: So that was this fall?

GP: Yes, that was this fall.

BP: Let's go back to your experience at the Supreme Court. Are appointments as clerks to justices two-year appointments?

GP: Typically they are a year long, but Justice Johnson has just recently begun hiring two-year clerks, I think mainly because she feels there is big learning curve in the first year, and it behooves both the law clerk and the justice to have that sort of continuity over the course of two years. I have to say that I really enjoyed the experience and I think it was worthwhile to be there for the two years.

BP: Because of the extra year or did you just like that kind of work?

GP: I did like that kind of work. In some ways I missed having the one-on-one contact with folks, and I felt a bit removed from what was happening in the cases that I was working on. At the same time, it was very intellectually stimulating work, and having not gone to law school or practiced in Vermont, I felt like I gained a good grasp of Vermont law while I was there. Not to mention that I really connected on both a professional and personal level with Justice Johnson. She's been a great mentor to me.

BP: Where did you go...

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