“I didn’t want to be a lawyer to make a bunch of money. I wanted to be a lawyer so I could help people,” Emily Laz, an attorney at Althauser Rayan Abbarno, says. “I can do that by representing clients when they are most vulnerable and guiding them through the process.”
Emily, an Oregon native and University of Oregon Alumnus, graduated from Vermont Law School with a Juris Doctor and Masters in Environmental Law. She joined Althauser Rayan Abbarno in 2014 as an associate attorney representing clients in divorce proceedings, child custody and child support disputes, domestic violence protection order hearings, and adoptions. “In my area of practice, there is no shortage of emotions,” noted Emily. “My clients want solutions and they want an attorney that can help provide them. That is why they come to me.”
Emily loves small town life since moving to Centralia three years ago. “I get really upset about traffic when I have to sit through one light cycle,” she laughs. She loves how friendly everyone is and that people like to help each other out. After all, that’s what she wants to do too. “I just want to give back.”
Emily wasted no time in joining the Lewis County Bar Legal Aid. Her first year she was on the board and now she is president of the board. Emily is consistently among the top attorneys in Lewis County for donating free legal services to low-income residents. She was also on the Centralia Downtown Association in the past, which allowed her to meet people and business owners in the city.
Legal Aid provides free legal advice to those who need it for matters such as family law, landlord/tenant problems and other issues. You make an appointment, and the lawyer will go over your case and tell you if it’s something you can do on your own. If not, they find a lawyer who will take the case pro bono, meaning for free.
“Lewis County Bar Legal Aid saw a 34 percent decrease in pro bono hours over the past year, which means people in our community are not being served,” Emily says. “And our state funding is based on how much need there is and if we’re only reporting a limited number of hours, then it looks like there is not a need. But what I think it really is, is that lawyers are doing the cases pro bono, but not reporting them to Legal Aid.”
To make up the lack of funds, Emily is working on a series of fundraising efforts for this year to help fill the gap in funding to make sure there is always someone around to answer questions. These fundraisers are just another way for the attorneys throughout Lewis County to give back.
“Advocating for parental rights and arguing emotion in highly charged situations is not easy for a lot of attorneys,” says Emily. “Choosing the right attorney is very important. Althauser Rayan Abbarno is a firm that builds relationships. In addition to my practice, our attorneys handle personal injury and worker’s compensation cases, estate planning and probate, contract and property disputes, criminal defense, and business and corporate law. We truly will guide you through virtually every issue and scenario.”
Althauser Rayan Abbarno has a long-standing reputation for giving back to the community – from sponsoring local events to volunteering and serving on boards. In fact, Emily says they encouraged her to do the same when she first joined the team. This desire to give back is reflected in the care they give their clients as well. For more information, visit Althauser Rayan Abbarno’s website or call their offices at 360-736-1301 (Centralia) and 360-352-1134 (Olympia).