April 2023 Very Important Volunteer – Kristina Ralls
The Volunteer Lawyers Program is proud to recognize Kristina Ralls as April’s Very Important Volunteer!
Kristina graduated from Gonzaga University Law School in December 2010 and has been practicing law since 2011. Prior to her legal practice, Kristina served the Spokane Community as a social worker integrating people diagnosed with mental health, intellectual, and developmental disabilities into the Spokane community for nearly 15 years. It was this service that drew her to the legal field, “One of the reasons I went to law school was that I saw that people with disadvantages, whether they be intellectual, financial, or a result of racial inequality, are often left without a voice in our legal system.”
Kristina has stood in the same shoes as many of her clients, as a law student she was a single parent of three teenage children. As Kristina was struggling with an illness in her third year of law school, she had to rely on the generosity of friends and family for safe shelter. “Because I have struggled, I have a deeper understanding of how intimidating life can be when you have to balance your ability to survive while also trying to tackle something as daunting as a legal case.”
This ethic of service & solidarity made Kristina well acquainted with the VLP. Initially connecting on a single bankruptcy case, she became a regular at almost every VLP family law clinic. When the Director of Legal Services position became available in 2017, Kristina was a clear choice. Kristina’s tenure saw the development of many new clinics, both remote and in person. The work she did to expand access to justice and the community connections of the VLP was remarkable. Kristina’s lifetime of service represents to so many in our community what it means to be an engaged citizen.
Kristina never stopped volunteering her time with the VLP, and supports local pro-ses as often as possible. “I volunteer because I want people to know that they are not alone and that they can achieve their goals if they are given the right tools. I love when I get feedback from someone I have helped, and I know that they have been able to make a change in their life because of the information I was able to provide.”
This month Kristina is leaving Spokane and moving into a new position, leading Family Law programs for King County Superior Court. Her work has touched so many here in our community, and Pro-Bono legal services are stronger, more capable, and better suited to the needs of the Spokane community as a result of her years of legal and community advocacy. Seattle is blessed to have such a strong advocate for pro-bono legal services. Good luck, Kristina, our city and state are profoundly grateful for your service.
Kristina’s Tip for New Volunteers: Remember that people are coming to see you (especially family law clients) at the worst time in their life. Give them grace and know that they are confused, hurt, and scared. Listen to them – I think lawyers often tell clients their legal options, but they don’t really listen to what the clients are saying – when clients feel heard and receive the appropriate tools, then they can feel empowered. I have met so many wonderful people (both clients and colleagues) through my work with the VLP. Many more experienced attorneys provided me with guidance when I was just starting out and I have been able to return the favor now that I am the one with experience.