Every month, Southern Arizona Legal Aid’s Volunteer Lawyers Program (VLP) recognizes a legal professional for their legal 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.
Geoff Ulreich is the November 2020 Outstanding Volunteer of the Month Award Recipient.
Geoff was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona. He earned an undergraduate degree in Political Theory from the University of Arizona, and completed a law degree at the University of Michigan, where he was an executive editor of the Michigan Law Review. He was motivated to pursue law school because he knew that practicing law would provide a wide enough scope that he knew it would always provide new opportunities and challenges to hold his interest. He currently practices at the firm of West-Watt Law, PLC, where he focuses on a variety of areas of law, including Real Estate, Contract Law, Family Law, Trusts and Estates, Guardianship and Conservatorship, and General Civil Litigation.
Geoff began volunteering in 2013 in the VLP’s Domestic Relations classes and clinics. Over the years, Geoff has taught Divorce and Paternity classes and advised family law clients at Domestic Relations clinics. He regularly teaches Minor Guardianship classes in the VLP, and his willingness to teach them remotely through videoconferences has been a tremendous help to SALA’s clients during COVID-19. His enthusiasm for helping others understand the law and his willingness to assist attendees at these classes does not go unnoticed. He is a dedicated volunteer who helps clients feel empowered to pursue the legal actions that are necessary for children to be supported by those who can care for them.
What Geoff enjoys most rewarding about volunteering in civil legal aid is helping to ensure that children who are assisted in the Minor Guardianship classes and clinics don’t fall through the cracks. As he explained, without the appointment of legal guardians, these children might otherwise be in a bad situation and could become wards of the state. Knowing that he has made a meaningful difference in their lives is very rewarding to Geoff. In addition to working in the VLP, Geoff also volunteers at other local legal aid organizations, and his firm participates in the Pima County Bar Foundation’s Family Law Clinic.
Geoff’s career high point thus far has been working on in loco parentis cases under ARS 25-109. In these cases, he assists clients with establishing parental rights when they are not the legal parents of a child, but they have been caring as parent would for the child and have formed a meaningful parental relationship with the child. In these cases, Geoff explained, clients’ entire relationship with a child is a stake, and his being able to help someone in this situation is very meaningful to him. Geoff’s real-life hero is the late Supreme Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. He was fortunate several years ago to hear her speak at a symposium at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law.
Geoff’s favorite author is George Martin, and he began reading Game of Thrones in 1994. In his free time, he enjoys swimming, bicycling, and hiking. He recently adopted a calico kitten, Callie, who enjoys a game of fetch.
For questions or comments about this blog, please contact us at: Connections@sazlegalaid.org