Above and Beyond

Volunteer Attorney Tim Fox

Tim Fox is the polar opposite of the lawyer found in stereotypical jokes. Far from being greedy or stingy with his time and knowledge, as a volunteer for Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic, he regularly stretches the bounds of what it means to give freely of oneself. When unavoidable hiccups in the system threaten to shut down an intake on a particular day or when time is critical for a certain client, Tim simply improvises.

Once, an intake location at a church was locked and there was no one to open the premises for Tim and the waiting prospective clients. It was pouring rain, but Tim did not want to send anyone away without help. “I had everybody pile into my car,” he says. “Whoever was in the first seat, I took notes on them, and then the next person got in.” Although he didn’t have access to the internet or a laptop, Tim wrote longhand and ensured the information got back to the Clinic to be processed. When the location was locked a second time, Tim conducted intake at a nearby Taco Bell. Such difficulties seem scarcely to phase him.

In fact, they mostly seem to encourage creative scheduling on his part. When Tim met a client with an issue involving child support, he knew the man needed to file for a modification as soon as possible. “The state of Indiana has so many forms you can download yourself,” Tim says. “A lot of times, people just need to be shown where they are and how to fill them out.” So that night, he spoke to the client over the phone and walked him through filing the modification pro se, which the man did the very next day.

Tim first came to volunteer for the Clinic after a series of upheavals in his personal and professional life, including a move to Indiana for a job that never panned out, a divorce, and very serious health issues that ravaged his finances. While he may not have chosen these experiences, Tim believes they served an important purpose in his life. “It was all part of God’s plan to bring me closer to Him,” he says. He recalls how every week at church they talked about service and tithing to the Lord. “I kept thinking as I was praying, what can I offer to the Lord if I don’t have the money?” says Tim. “Definitely I can give my time.”

This selfless offering of his time comes from understanding what it’s like to truly need help. “I’ve been in situations similar to these people where you’re kind of desperate,” he says. “I know that feeling when you talk to somebody and they can’t help. I just don’t ever want to leave someone without hope.” At times, despite his Herculean efforts, there is no good answer for a person–they have problems that cannot be fixed by an attorney. And that is why faith is so important to Tim. “Whatever happens in this life–well this life is over in the blink of an eye,” he says. “But eternity lasts forever and that’s where our real life begins and that’s where the true hope comes.”

Although the prospect of volunteering may at first be daunting, Tim encourages other attorneys to consider giving their time to the Legal Clinic as well. “The reward you get out of it is worth exponentially more than any time you put into it.”

To learn more about volunteering for the Legal Clinic, please visit our volunteer page.