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Having served as a volunteer on eighty-plus pro bono family law cases, a trainer in Philadelphia VIP’s Continuing Legal Education (CLE) program, and a member of VIP’s Board of Directors, Lise Fisher is a pillar of the VIP community. For nearly three decades, she balanced the responsibilities of her legal practice at a local family law firm with her commitment to volunteering. Now, a year after opening a solo practice, Lise continues to inspire through her partnership with VIP.
Lise boasts a pro bono resume like few others.’ Since taking her first VIP case in 1989, she has assisted dozens of Philadelphians in custody, divorce, and support matters, both as a volunteer attorney and a mentor to other volunteers.
“Everyone has an obligation to give back – especially attorneys. It’s hard to say ‘no’ when VIP makes volunteering so easy.”
Saying “yes!” to VIP has not only allowed Lise to deepen her connection to the Philadelphia community, it has also made her a stronger attorney. In serving her VIP clients, she has to explore strategies different from those she sees in private practice. As she explains, “in divorce, if the opposing party has some money, we can’t always go after it. If my client depends on Social Security benefits, we have to think strategically so she doesn’t lose that income.”
When challenges arise in her pro bono cases, Lise knows she can count on VIP for support. “If I need an appraiser, VIP can find one. If I have a question, Todd [Nothstein, Staff Attorney] can answer it,” she says.
As Lise points out, access to VIP’s staff is just one of many benefits to volunteering. Through the years, Lise has engaged with the VIP community through mentorship, CLE trainings, and the Family Law Practice Group – a monthly lunchtime gathering at VIP where volunteers discuss cases, share expertise, and connect with like-minded attorneys. “I love those meetings. I meet new people and learn new things,” she says. “It’s a good opportunity for new attorneys, those new to the area, or those new to family law.”
Connection – with her clients, her colleagues, and VIP’s team – is central to Lise’s pro bono mission.
“To me, pro bono has always been about the people I meet.”
She offers a story to illustrate this point. “A few years ago, VIP asked me to mentor another volunteer on a divorce case involving equitable distribution,” she says. The two volunteers connected, shared strategies, and won a favorable outcome for the client. But marital property wasn’t the only take-away from this case: “My mentee is now a good friend,” Lise says.
Lise’s commitment to service and community inspire us to continue improving the VIP volunteer experience. She hopes her fellow professionals see that “VIP does a lot of good and makes it easy to get involved. You help people, hone your skills, and make new acquaintances. There’s no reason to say ‘no.’”