The motivation for and benefits of doing pro bono work are commonly advocated by the attorneys who get involved in the Pro Bono Project. In addition to helping to make a difference, this month’s honoree, Jessica D. Sparacino, credits her pro bono contribution as helping her to gain practical skills and valuable legal experience.
A graduate of Villanova University, Sparacino worked full time as an Affirmative Action Analyst at Jackson Lewis LLP, while attending Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center earning her J.D. in 2008. After her admission to the Bar, she continued at the firm working in the area of employment law and then joined a firm where her work involved lobbying and a criminal law practice. Finding that this was not her calling, she set out to take the “leap of faith” and launched a family law practice, with her husband’s moral support. After attending a CLE Matrimonial “Boot Camp” sponsored by the Suffolk County Bar Association and the Pro Bono Project, Ms. Sparacino agreed to accept a pro bono matrimonial case. She is very positive about the training she received through the Bar Association and feels that as a result, she was prepared to take on pro bono cases and bolster her professional experience in her private practice. “I encourage new attorneys to get started this way –getting the necessary training and the practical experience of taking on a pro bono case with the help of a mentor.” She believes this professional path helped her to network with other attorneys and gave her the self confidence she needed to start her own firm. Ms. Sparacino’s firm, Sparacino & Sparacino PLLC, located in Northport, N.Y., focuses on matrimonial and real estate law, including divorce and family mediation, matrimonial and family law, real estate transactions, foreclosures, small claims, estate planning and administration, and general practice. Jessica is also a real estate broker, an impartial hearing officer for at New York State Education Department (ACCES-VR), and a certified divorce mediator.
Although a family law practice can be emotionally exhausting, Ms. Sparacino thoroughly enjoys the practice and wouldn’t have it any other way. Her pro bono matrimonial cases have all been different in terms of the clients’ circumstances and the cases’ complexity, but she observes, “I always found the clients I have worked with to be extremely appreciative. One client still sends me friendly updates on how she’s doing. It’s so rewarding to know you made a difference in someone’s life.” She has been so inspired by doing pro bono work that she has applied her valuable background in real estate to her most recent pro bono contribution. We are fortunate to have Ms. Sparacino on the dedicated panel of attorneys serving on the Pro Bono Foreclosure Settlement Project. She has also found this work to be interesting and rewarding while expanding her general knowledge and legal practice. When asked what she would say to her colleagues about doing pro bono work, Sparacino enthusiastically recommends the experience. “Absolutely do it!” she says. “It’s been a great experience giving back, especially working for people who some of the most appreciative.” And there’s been a collateral benefit to her practice as her satisfied pro bono clients have referred paying clients to her. “Especially for new attorneys, there is no better way to get the experience, build relationships, and network with other attorneys.”
Ms. Sparacino is a member of the Suffolk County Bar Association, the New York State Bar Association, and the Suffolk County Women’s Bar Association. She is also the Philanthropy Chair of the Long Island Villanova University Alumni Chapter. She especially enjoys working in the firm with her husband and partner, Frank J. Sparacino, Jr. They reside in Northport with their two dogs, enjoy traveling, and are avid cruisers. For her dedication and generosity to people in need, we are proud to award Jessica D. Sparacino the honor of being named Pro Bono Attorney of the Month.
For more information on how you can serve your community in one of our pro bono initiatives,please call Maria Dosso, Esq, Director of Communications and Volunteer Services at Nassau Suffolk Law Services 631 232-2400 x 3369