Volunteer Interpreter Gives Low-Income Clients Access to Pro Bono Legal Services

Paulina Castillo

Paulina Castillo

The Justice & Diversity Center (JDC) is pleased to recognize Paulina Castillo for her outstanding volunteer work with its Interpreter Project. JDC serves a linguistically diverse population, and volunteers like Castillo help ensure that low-income, monolingual clients have meaningful access to pro bono legal counsel. A licensed attorney in her native country, Chile, Castillo started volunteering at JDC to familiarize herself with the American legal system while contributing to a good cause. “JDC has been a great way for me to help others while learning myself,” she says.

She has interpreted for JDC’s Family Law and Eviction Defense project, including the Housing Negotiation Project, which provides tenants facing eviction with pro bono counsel who try to settle their cases prior to trial. “It’s clear that there is a lot of pressure for tenants in San Francisco right now,” she says. “Again and again I see similar issues: the landlord wants to raise the rent, neighbors have already moved out, or the landlord wants to renovate the apartment to charge new tenants a higher price.”

Castillo finds it particularly challenging, but also rewarding, to interpret for large families facing eviction. She observes that “when multiple family members are involved in a lawsuit, a whole other level of negotiation is added to an already delicate situation.”

As a law student in Chile, Castillo provided pro-bono assistance to clients facing divorce, custody and domestic violence issues. She admires the commitment and dedication of JDC’s volunteer attorneys, and looks forward to continuing to volunteer her own time as an interpreter.

When not volunteering with JDC, she enjoys sailing, windsurfing and playing tennis. She has also worked as a volunteer interpreter at The Samaritan House, a free clinic for low-income clients in Redwood City.

Get involved: If you would like more information on volunteering with JDC, email probono@sfbar.org.