By Nicole NeSmith, CARPLS Development & Communications Associate
Wally is a Senior Partner with Schiff Hardin and became a CARPLS volunteer twice a week starting in February 2019. In one instance, Wally recently helped a client with her Section 8 moving papers as she was looking for safe, subsidized housing. Our clients greatly appreciate his thoughtful legal counsel and sense of humor.
“Wally puts a smile on everyone’s face when he’s here.” -Leslie Wallin, CARPLS Supervising Attorney and Volunteer Coordinator
What is your legal background?
I’m a trial lawyer. The last 15 years of my career, I defended car seat manufacturers and the like around the country.
Did you always know you were going to be a lawyer?
No. At Amherst, I thought, ‘What can I do with a poly sci degree? I wasn’t smart enough for med school, so I went to law school. It was an easier time back then.
What was your first job out of law school?
Schiff Hardin LLP—I’ve been with the same law firm since I graduated from law school in 1975. I’ve greatly enjoyed my time at Schiff. I was kind of the class clown, and I had a lot of fun.
How did you come to volunteer at CARPLS?
I was in the process of retiring and I was looking for other things to do. One of my partners, Peter Rossiter, who is a longtime volunteer at CARPLS, suggested I try CARPLS and here I am.
What did you think of the prospect when he first brought it up?
Somewhere between excited and unsure. I had done some pro bono work before that I did not enjoy. Peter told me that at CARPLS you take the phone call, you help as best as you can, and the moment you hang up that’s it. I found that to be very attractive.
What has the experience been like?
Better than I expected. I was concerned that I wouldn’t know the areas of law at all, but CARPLS’ tutorials are very good and the computer system gives you all the information you need. So within a month or so I was comfortable doing the work.
I was also a little concerned when I started that I wouldn’t be sufficiently empathetic to the folks calling in just because that was not the kind of law practice I had. But every day that I’m here I leave knowing that I’ve made at least one person’s life a bit better.
Wally is on the board for Northlight Theatre and the Zoning Board of Appeals of Winnetka, and loves to read. He is currently making his way through David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.