This month, we hope you enjoy reading our feature article about an inspiring lawyer’s devotion to serving his community. We also hope you will find “Still Organic and Customer Service Savvy after 22 Years” interesting as it takes a look at how excellent customer service doesn’t just “happen” and how important it is to legal professionals.
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Empowering Communities: One Man’s Legacy in Community Lawyering
By Maileen Hamto, Colors of Influence, Oregon
Ronault L.S. Catalani, community lawyer, is well-known among his beloved Oregon’s ethnic enclaves as an advocate for families. Polo – as he is best known among readers of his long-running opinion column in The Asian Reporter – is at his best when he is empowering ethnic communities to draw from the wisdom of traditional cultural values in solving community problems.
His work in bringing to light the gaps that exist between services offered by mainstream institutions and the needs of immigrant and communities of color has yielded a fulfilling career for Polo.
“When I do law, I’m just the mechanic. Community lawyering is based on assumption that ethnic enclaves can solve their own problems. I can tell the elders in the community how we’re going to approach the problem within the parameters of law – but I always engage and empower the elder auntie or elder uncle with the respect and responsibility to solve the problem.”
Polo received his J.D. from Willamette University and was a Reginald Heber Smith Community Law Fellow at Howard University Law School. For more than two decades, Polo has been working alongside immigrant and refugee communities, focused on preserving families, cultural traditions and integrity.