At VIP, we engage volunteers whenever possible to help our clients. Pro bono attorneys make up the bulk of our volunteer community, but we also work with paralegals, notaries, and interpreters who donate their time and talent to our mission. Antonio Clavijo, October’s Volunteer of the Month, is one of VIP’s English-Spanish interpreters who help us expand access to justice beyond language barriers.
As an interpreter, Antonio pairs up with English-speaking volunteer lawyers to serve Spanish-speaking clients. He facilitates client meetings whose topics range from the straightforward, like writing a will, to the complex, like explaining an attorney’s progress in a quiet title action. No matter the case, Antonio strives to make matters crystal clear for his client and draws on his personal experience to do so.
Antonio immigrated from his native Guadalajara, Mexico to the U.S. in 2006. He earned a bachelor’s degree in law and became the first in his family to graduate from college. He feels that experience makes him a better interpreter: “Thanks to my education, I understand the reasons behind the attorney’s questions,” he says. “When I phrase the questions in Spanish, I can put the emphasis on why they are being asked.”
Antonio’s job as a bank manager and his coursework toward his master’s degree keep him busy, but he makes time for pro bono because of his personal connection to the work.
“As an immigrant myself, I understand the need for someone to guide you,” he says. “When I moved to the U.S., I did not have anyone to help me register for school, for example. I get to be that person for these clients as they interact with the legal system.”