Aaron Tarin, a third-year student at the Quinney College of Law, was recently profiled reporter Quetty (Katie) Morales-Pino in Fronteras, The Salt Lake Tribune’s weekly Spanish-language publication.
The following translation, used by permission of Fronteras and the author, details Tarin’s efforts to provide pro bono legal assistance to the Latino community and provides an overview of the Quinney College’s Pro Bono Initiative.
Aaron Tarin: Helping Those in Need
by Quetty Morales-Pino
It is Tuesday night at the Guadalupe School and Aaron Tarin is talking to a Latino family.
The family members are assaulting him with questions regarding a legal situation they do not understand. Tarin, a third-year law student, has to be able to translate and explain the legal jargon to his clients, who do not comprehend the legal intricacies of United States’ laws.
It’s all part of his role as a volunteer at the Guadalupe School Pro Se Legal Clinic, where he has been on the staff since 2005.
Born in Delta, in western Utah, Tarin is the oldest son of Mexican immigrants who faced language barriers, legal issues, and the challenges of surviving in a different culture, as immigrants do now.
For Tarin, this volunteer work “is not a sacrifice, it is simply what I have to do.” Under the same program he also teaches a Spanish class for lawyers interested in reaching the Latino community, and he volunteers at the Detained Immigration Clinic. The latter assists those facing deportation.
The Pro Bono Initiative is a program offered by the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law. It provides legal advice, free of charge, to the needy. Â Clinic services are offered on a first served basis at various times and days during the month. Volunteers are there only to assist. Clients must make their own decisions and are responsible for filing all documents. There are three legal clinics in Salt Lake City (see accompanying information).
Tarin plans to use his experience at the clinic to specialize in immigration law and to participate in other volunteer efforts.
“When we have a change in immigration laws, we are going to need more legal clinics,” he said. “We are not going to be able to help all of those that will require assistance.”
Sadly, even though the U.S. Congress has not made much progress on immigration reform, many immigrants wrongly believe that by paying an attorney, they will automatically acquire legal status. They often fall pray to unscrupulous lawyers or others who make many promises and then do nothing.
Tarin advises the undocumented to “stay out of trouble and use your hard-earned money to educate your children, instill in them the desire to become better, and wait, (because) one day we’ll see positive changes in the law.”
There are three legal clinics in Salt Lake City:
— The Guadalupe Clinic, (consumer, employment, landlord-tenant issues, etc.) every Tuesday from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm at the Guadalupe School, 340 South Goshen (1040 West) Salt Lake City.
— The Guadalupe Immigration Clinic, the first Tuesday of every month, from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm, at the Guadalupe School
— The Family Law Clinic (divorce, child custody, child support, adoption, protective orders, etc.), the first and third Wednesday of every month at the Matheson Courthouse, Room W19 Conference A.