SIMPKINS SHARES IN PRO-BONO PRIZE
By Laura Bartels
Family law attorney Harveen S. Simpkins shares the honor of recipient of the James D. Loebl VCBA/VLSP Inc. Pro Bono Award with Santa Clara Valley Legal Aid’s Leslie McAdam.
“What I do is so rewarding, I feel rather embarrassed to receive this award because as lawyers, we should all be helping people,” Harveen says. As a child in India watching a Perry Mason-like movie on television, Harveen was so inspired by seeing a lawyer protecting the rights of the poor, the oppressed and the powerless that the bold ten-year-old declared to her mother, “Mom, I’m going to be a lawyer.”
“Well,” her mother concluded, “You like to argue enough, that’s probably a good job for you!”
After earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology, it was during Harveen’s career in counseling and social work where she was exposed to children’s issues. Often as a children’s social worker she would be called to testify in court for the children. These experiences built Harveen’s interest in custody and visitation issues and prompted her to pursue a law degree from the Ventura College of Law, so she could really advocate what was right for the children, who often were being used as pawns by their divorcing parents.
Harveen feels very honored to be able to help those in need. Out for dinner with her husband recently, after being seated Harveen was approached by the waitress.
“Oh my god, Harveen, do you remember me?” the waitress exclaimed. “Six years ago, when no one would help me, and my ex-husband was going to take away my children, you helped me. The children are thriving now. Thank you so much!”
Harveen’s background helps her handle family law issues, says Emeritus Attorney Verna Kagan.
“Her experience gives her a position to give advice that is both sociological and legal,” Kagan says. “Harveen has taken 20 cases in the past four years. Harveen is an example of the kind of person who embodies the VCBA/ VLSP Pro Bono Award. An attorney who does so much pro-bono work she should be recognized.”
Harveen concludes that you reap what you sow.
“The people who really should be thanked and acknowledged are the people of the Ventura County Bar Association who work so hard to persuade attorneys to take cases,” Harveen says. “Really, I get so much more from this than I give.” Married to Hyrum for over twenty years, with two sons, Harveen has a private family law practice in Oxnard.
Laura Bartels is the c u r rent Se c re t a r y – Treasurer of the Bar Association with a practice in Santa Paula.