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Volunteer Spotlight Published May 30, 2023

Karen Flynn

Meet May’s Volunteer of the Month Karen Flynn

Meet Karen Flynn, retired corporate attorney and May’s Volunteer of the Month. Karen was introduced to the legal profession through her mother, who worked as a secretary and paralegal at a law firm. After law school, Karen was a commercial litigator before working in-house for some large corporations.  

While working in-house, Karen served on the board of a nonprofit that provided home repairs, where she often heard a familiar story: potential clients did not qualify for services because their names were not on the deed to the house. After Karen retired, she wanted to help those homeowners. “I read about the enormous backlog of people needing help, and despite not knowing much about probate, I decided to help,” Karen said. “I reached out to VIP and told them that I didn’t know anything about tangled title. They reassured me throughout the whole process. They gave me a simple probate initially, and I was able to rely on the VIP team and manuals.” 

By taking these cases, I am offering my experience in managing a legal process for them. The process itself is not overwhelmingly complicated, but I know it can seem unwelcoming to people who are unfamiliar with petitions and formal documents. People are extremely grateful to just have you by their side.

Karen is currently doubling her impact by representing a Spanish-speaking client in the probate process. She works closely with a VIP volunteer translator and has appreciated the unique experience this interaction brings. “The translator I’ve worked with has been so helpful, teaching me how to properly interact with her and the client to make the meetings run smoothly,” Karen said, “I am learning how to make things really clear so that the translator and the clients understand what I’m saying. It requires a conscious effort.” 

Karen recommends volunteering with VIP to other lawyers. “Start with something that won’t overwhelm you,” Karen said. “These cases may not be major time commitments, but VIP clients don’t understand the purpose of the probate process and why it is important to get through it. By getting them through probate and getting the title transferred, you open new benefits to them that they are not always aware of, such as home repair programs, water bill payment programs, and the homestead exemption. It can really provide a huge boost to people who are struggling and helps the City of Philadelphia when its citizens are able to participate in the process. They wait a long time for this help, and when you are able to step up and provide this essential service, they are truly appreciative of your efforts. Makes me feel good.”