By: Ireland O’Connell, Legal Intern, VLP
Every month, Southern Arizona Legal Aid’s Volunteer Lawyers Program (VLP) recognizes a legal professional for their legal volunteerism. 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.
Valerie Hink is the October 2021 Outstanding Volunteer of the Month Award Recipient.
Ms. Hink is originally from New York but has lived in several locations throughout the years. She graduated from Colby College with a degree in biology. She also has a Masters in Zoology from the University of Minnesota. Ms. Hink had a career as a field biologist before making the switch to law. She attended the University of California, Los Angeles for law school, where she was an editor in their environmental law journal, involved in moot court, and volunteered in two legal services offices.
Ms. Hink has always been concerned with human rights and chose to focus her career on immigration law. After law school, Ms. Hink completed a fellowship with the Center for Law in the Public Interest in Los Angeles, before landing upon immigration, a discipline that she felt was her perfect match. Immigration and asylum have always been in Ms. Hink’s life, as her father was a post-World War II displaced person who sought refuge in the United States.
Upon moving to Tucson, Ms. Hink became counsel at the nonprofit Tucson Ecumenical Council Legal Assistance (TECLA). After six years at TECLA, Ms. Hink became a staff attorney at Southern Arizona Legal Aid, where she worked in the immigration unit until her retirement in 2018. When she decided to retire, Ms. Hink knew she didn’t want to lose touch with the work she had done or with her colleagues whom she greatly respects. She also knew she still wanted to help others, so she continued her work with Southern Arizona Legal Aid’s immigration unit as a volunteer. She appreciates that volunteerism allows her to stay in touch with an area of law she’s passionate about, particularly the humanitarian aspect of immigration law. She also volunteers in the Immigration Law Clinic at the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law. In addition, Ms. Hink is on the board of the Asylum Program of Arizona. In her free time, she enjoys bird watching, hiking, camping, travel, and reading. An inspirational figure for her is Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Ms. Hink believes attorneys should have a genuine compassion and concern for their clients and do the best possible job they can do for each individual client. Ms. Hink can’t distinguish a specific career high point, as she enjoyed all of the work she previously and currently does with immigrants. She does find particular joy when she assists a client with obtaining a green card, especially when it was a long path to get there.
Ms. Hink is a prime example of someone who has a genuine passion for the work she does, and the people she helps. She exemplifies the values of service and integrity that are integral to the legal profession.
For questions or comments about this blog, please contact us at: Connections@sazlegalaid.org