Our November Volunteer of the Month is the amazing Sarah Schirack of Perkins Coie in Anchorage! Sarah most recently volunteered her considerable expertise as an appellate attorney, drafting the responding brief on behalf of our client in the Ninth Circuit in a highly contested and complex divorce & custody case involving domestic violence.
Thank you Sarah for the passionate advocacy you bring to our client community!
Why did you choose to volunteer with ALSC?
I chose to volunteer with the Alaska Legal Services Corporation to provide legal advice and representation to members of our community who otherwise would not have access to them.
Since I’m currently in private practice, I feel a particular onus to do pro bono work as a form of public service, and am grateful to work at a law firm that strongly supports it. ALSC has connected me with kindhearted clients who have interesting legal issues—a win-win for everyone.
What are some of your experiences at ALSC that have made a positive difference in the lives of others and/the community?
As an ALSC volunteer, I’ve worked with parent-clients on matters related to their children, which feels immensely rewarding as a parent myself. My largest time commitment for an ALSC case to date was in a 9th Circuit appeal involving an alleged foreign arbitration, Younger abstention, and the Rooker-Feldman doctrine—really hairy legal issues that will determine whether an immigrant mother will get to keep custody of her four young children. After getting to know the client, I realized that my work will be paid forward in spades: once she’s finally unburdened by these legal matters, I’m confident that this tremendous woman will go on to make a positive difference in our community for others, in addition to the countless positive contributions she makes to her children’s lives every day.
How do you think your experiences with ALSC will benefit you in the future?
My volunteer work for ALSC is benefitting me both professionally and personally. Professionally, it is exposing me to legal issues I’ve yet to encounter before but surely will again. It is also affording me the terrific opportunity for oral argument experience before the Alaska Supreme Court. On a personal level, it is providing me with perspective on issues facing families in our community that I might not have otherwise understood as meaningfully. And it is helping me appreciate how vibrant Anchorage’s diverse community is. Having local playground meet-ups with my child and my first ALSC client + her children is enriching on so many levels.
What do you do when you are not volunteering with ALSC?
I am a litigator in Perkins Coie’s Anchorage office. I help clients with complex civil litigation at all stages of the legal process. Outside work, I enjoy doing activities that help me answer the common question “why did you decide to stay in Alaska after clerking?”—beyond the wonderfully collegial legal community here. Camping, biking, skiing (and skijoring)—and recently canoeing on nearby Westchester Lagoon after work—are my favorites. When exhausted by those adventures, I enjoy brainstorming games to play with my toddler that require laying down, like ‘hibernating bear,’ or ‘ancient statute in repose.’
Are you interested in volunteering with ALSC? Learn more about our pro bono opportunities here!