Phillip Scott Campbell says his secret to
building a solo practice, having sole custody of his daughter and
performing pro bono work is simple: "I don't mind being poor."
Campbell, 39, manages to volunteer as supervising
attorney at a guardianship clinic while juggling the responsibilities
of raising a 3-year-old daughter and running his Oak-land estate
planning and probate practice, where he worked without support staff
It is a full plate for an attorney just four
years out of law school, but Campbell's efforts aren't going
unnoticed. In late July, he was selected to receive the 2001 Jack
Berman Individual Award of Achievement.
Named for a 35-year-old attorney killed in the
1993 massacre at 101 California St. in San Francis-co, the award,
given by the California Young Lawyers Association, honors attorneys
who provide stellar service to the profession and the public. It will
be presented Sept. 7 at a reception during the State Bar's Annual
Meeting in Anaheim.
Campbell donates several hours each month to the
clinic's in-court volunteer program, run by the Alameda County Bar
Association's Volunteer Legal Services Corporation, helping pro per
petitioners wend their way through the guardianship legal process.
"I am working with the saints of this world,
people who are willing to take into their home - take responsibility
for - children whose parents are unable to do it," Campbell said.
"They're coming to a clinic for indigents - these are people who
have no money, yet they're going to open up what little they have to
Campbell received his undergraduate degree from
the University of Illinois and undertook graduate studies at Oxford
University in Great Britain. He received his J.D. from the University
of Vermont and his LL.M. from Golden Gate University.
In addition to his work at the clinic, Campbell
sets time aside from his solo practice to work with pro bono clients,
who often have literacy problems or are unable to cope with the
stresses involved with court appearances.
"People say I do so much pro bono work, but
only 5 to 10 percent of my professional time is spent doing (it). I
don't see it's that big a deal," Campbell said.
Campbell said that as a Rotary Club member and
former Eagle Scout who frequently participates in service
organizations and church programs, performing pro bono work is simply
another way to contribute to the community. But he notes there is
still a great need for more volunteers.
"When VLSC picks up the phone, I say 'no'
to them more often than I say 'yes,' " Campbell said.
"Still, I'm winning the award, which kind of makes me a
little afraid for our society."