Outside of law school, Yi-Ping Chang had not taken an immigration case before attending CVLS’ Guardianship Planning for Undocumented Immigrants legal clinic on Sunday, March 12 at Immaculate Conception Church on Chicago’s Southwest side.
A finance attorney with Mayer Brown, Yi-Ping who counseled and helped undocumented immigrants create safety plans for their children using statutory short term guardianships, was one of 50 volunteer attorneys, who helped that day.
“I think in my day job there’s a lot of explaining to the client what the options are and putting those options into a contract, which is sort of what we did at this clinic.”
He was surprised by the number of people who came to the one-day clinic looking for help, but not at all surprised to see how nervous his clients were, especially about their children. “I think that’s quite universal, people are worried about what will happen to their kids.”
Of the six families Yi-Ping saw that afternoon, one family in particular stands out. One mother and her son and daughter came to create a framework that would allow the son to become guardian of his sister, if their mother were to be detained or deported. “He took it very, very seriously,” Yi-Ping says. “He wanted to protect his sister, so he was hanging onto every word. It was a special moment.”
Yi-Ping says working pro bono helps him in his work with Mayer Brown, by putting a different perspective on the work and the client. “I think it allows you to connect with people in a different way than you would in your day job. I represent financial institutions and having the chance to work with individuals and help to solve their very personal legal problems is very rewarding and has many lessons I can take into my full time practice. “