Every month, Southern Arizona Legal Aid’s Volunteer Lawyers Program (VLP) recognizes a legal professional for their voluntarism. The award is a distinct honor. Of the 533 attorneys and paralegals who volunteer their time, twelve are recognized annually for their dedication to access to justice.
Sarah Crotty is the January 2020 Outstanding Volunteer of the Month Award recipient.
Sarah is a third generation Tucsonan. She grew up with two brothers and four sister and initially attended Pima Community College in paralegal studies, working as Office Manager/Paralegal with Attorney John O’Dowd. She moved to Virginia and served as faculty support for the William and Mary College of Law, editing journals and text books. Subsequently, she moved to the East Coast, attending Mount Holyoke College for undergraduate studies. She majored in English and also Environmental Studies. She got into the Virginia College of Law but decided to come back to Arizona to be with family when her mother was diagnosed with cancer. She got to spend much time with her mother during a year off from her studies and then attending Arizona State University for her Juris Doctor. During law school, she was a single mother of two daughters, often putting her youngest to sleep and waking up at 3 AM to do her studies. She obtained her certificate in environmental law but as she was studying for the Arizona bar exam, she received an offer from the Law Office of Denice Shepherd here in Tucson, to practice Elder Law. She accepted the job in 2005 and has been with Denice’s office since then, loving her work. She finds it fulfilling to assist people through a complicated process which initially can be very scary. The quality she likes most in a lawyer is the ability to speak directly and professionally about the issue at hand.
Immediately after becoming barred, Sarah started volunteering with the Volunteer Lawyer’s Program. She has taken fifty-two direct representation cases, from wills and estates, to adult and minor guardianships. In 2009, she accepted 18 pro bono cases alone! In addition to taking pro bono cases, Sarah has volunteered for minor guardianship classes and advice clinics, as well as for Court Clinics supervising law students at minor guardianship hearings. She now volunteers for both SALA’s and Step Up to Justice’s minor guardianship clinics, as well as taking direct representation cases and taking the occasional phone call from SALA staff about probate questions. In addition to this, she is on the Steering Committee for the Arizona Women Lawyers Association and she is starting as a mentor for Girl Scouts, having had such a wonderful experience in that organization growing up. She credits her parents, John O’Dowd, and Denice Shepherd all for encouraging her to give back and volunteer for the community. She likes helping people and finds it gratifying. Nothing cheers Sarah up like time with her family. Sarah’s oldest daughter has three grandkids, now living in Texas, and Sarah’s youngest daughter is at Pima Community College studying nursing. She has plans to go to ASU for her bachelor’s degree, just like her mother. Sarah is very close with the grandkids, sometimes hosting them out here in Tucson for the summer, and calling and skyping frequently. In her free time, she enjoys making them elaborate dresses and costumes for holidays. She has three rescue dogs and is looking to get back into running and hiking more. Her favorite author is Jane Austen and if she had a different career, Sarah would write fiction. The SCOTUS Justice she would most like to meet is Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
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