California Bar Journal
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Single father, practicing four years, devoted to pro bono
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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 until May.

Phillip S. CampbellIt 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 a child."

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."