Volunteer Spotlight

Issue December 2012 By Andrea Burke

Massachusetts Bar Association member Denise M. Shear has volunteered with the Western Massachusetts Dial-A-Lawyer program for the past 12 years, providing free legal services to callers during the bi-annual event. A graduate of Roger Williams University School of Law, Shear was first encouraged to volunteer for Dial-A-Lawyer by fellow attorney David Ostrander when she joined Ostrander Law Office in Northhampton.

"A lot of callers may be worried about an attorney's legal fees, and wonder whether their issue even requires legal counsel," Shear said. "Being able to run it by an attorney helps them decide how to proceed forward -- whether it be through legal recourse, or just letting it go."

Shear fondly remembers when she provided advice to a distraught caller on the brink of foreclosure. Shear referred the caller to the Springfield Foreclosure Prevention Task Force, which coincidentally referred the caller to Ostrander Law Office, a participant in their pro-bono program. The caller became Shear's client, and immediately recognized her voice on the other end of the phone line during their first conversation. Shear has been able to help the client remain in her home.

"It instilled in me, from the very beginning of my career, that volunteer service is a part of this profession and a duty," Shear said.

In addition to the Western Massachusetts Dial-A-Lawyer program, Shear also volunteers her time participating in the Mary Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program and numerous other programs.

"I am setting an example for my children . . . this is part of what you do -- you help others," Shear said.

Shear is currently an associate at Ostrander Law Offices, where she specializes in consumer bankruptcy law and debtor/creditor representation.