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Rawle Andrews, Jr. Esq

Mar 07, 2016

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Regional Vice President, AARP

  • Rawle Andrews, Jr., Esq.Rawle Andrews, Jr., Esq.

    Regional Vice President, Maryland

    American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)

  • EmpowermentEmpowermentEmpowermentEmpowerment

    might call it external communica-

    tions, on what AARP is, what it does,

    and how you can get involved.

    Andrews shared with Exceptional

    People Magazine what he enjoys

    about his position and what he enjoys

    most about helping AARP members

    live healthy and productive lives.

    EPM: Why did you decide to be-

    come an attorney?

    Rawle: I believe that I always

    wanted to find a career in law, even

    though my father was a physician, his

    uncle and mentor was a physician and

    my younger brother also is a medical

    doctor. And I think my ability to help

    folks know their rights, have those

    rights enforced, was only going to be

    from a mouthpiece where legal train-

    ing was available. That doesnt mean

    a lot of people dont watch Law and

    Order; they can figure out what law-

    yers do, and sometimes they do it

    pretty successfully. But ultimately the

    classical legal training, I think, does

    give me a chance to give voice to the

    voiceless, whether thats a corpora-

    tion, a government entity, or an indi-

    vidual.

    EPM: You received your JD with

    honors, and you also received the

    2006 Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year

    award. How important is it for attor-

    neys to do pro bono work?

    As an attorney and the

    Regional Vice President for

    AARP in Maryland, Rawle

    Andrews, Jr. has confronted

    many challenges.

    Often viewed by many as an organi-

    zation offering discounts to senior

    citizens, AARP is much more than

    that. It provides an abundance of

    benefits that many people may not be

    aware of. Andrews is responsible for

    ensuring that it all comes together and

    runs smoothly. He oversees various

    programs for 850,000 members.

    In some respects they are our con-

    stituents, but they also are our volun-

    teers. They also are our partners in

    several of our collaborative efforts to

    try to make a difference for people 50

    and older and their families, stated

    Andrews.

    I would split my job into thirds, if

    you will. One-third of my job is the

    general administration and manage-

    ment of the business and financial

    affairs of AARPs business in the

    state of Maryland. The second phase

    or the second third of my job is to run

    and oversee our advocacy operations,

    which some people would call lobby-

    ing. And the third is really in the pub-

    lic education and community outreach

    phase of the work we do, so you

    Rawle: I believe that if you read 99

    out of 100 law school essays over the

    last 25 to 30 years, almost every one

    of them would say, Please admit me

    to your law school, no matter where

    the law school is, because I want to

    be able to give back to the commu-

    nity, and the only way I can do it is to

    be a lawyer. That being said, people

    get in, the golden handcuffs come out

    and then, suddenly, they take a job on

    K Street or Wall Street, or wherever

    the street may be, and they find that it

    becomes difficult with family and

    other commitments to give back.

    But I think if thats where you started,

    that your plans were that you would

    be committed to public service in that

    way, that you would know your obli-

    gations. So it becomes an obligation

    deferred, not an obligation you arent

    aware of. The other thing I would say

    is but this is really, really important

    I believe the reason why I was hon-

    ored with that award is because there

    is a difference between pro bono and

    community service.

    And Ill give you an example. If Im

    a lawyer trained in lawyer skills, the

    best way I can give back is to take my

    professional expertise and help some-

    body who has modest means and

    make their life a little better. That

    doesnt mean I couldnt volunteer for

    Habitat for Humanity and go build

    somebodys back yard playground, or

    May-June 2011 | Exceptional People Magazine | 59

  • EmpowermentEmpowermentEmpowermentEmpowerment

    Rawle: I think every day when I

    wake up, I know I have a real oppor-

    tunity to help someone. And thats

    when I pick up the phone, write a let-

    ter, send an e-mail, or have a meeting.

    Because they come to you with a

    problem and they know there has

    been wrongdoing sometimes they

    dont legally know how it happened

    or why it happened. But they feel in

    their DNA that theyve been

    wronged, and they need a road map

    a Mapquest, if you will to try to

    find the solution to it.

    Sometimes the fact that theyve been

    wronged morally, in our system of

    laws doesnt mean that theres a legal

    remedy for that. But if I can help

    someone say, Well, you know what,

    I know you feel badly about it, but

    they werent required to tell you X,

    Y, or Z, I hope Im saving you some

    time. People dont always see the

    value in me giving my hour or two

    hours to explain that to them. But I

    am saving them from a roadblock,

    because if you go to court, youre

    going to waste money filing a lawsuit

    and its going to be dismissed but

    there is a value in doing that.

    But I do feel that every day I get up, I

    am in an honorable profession al-

    though sometimes lawyers dont be-

    have honorably. I have an opportu-

    nity to make a difference every day --

    plant trees, or clean up the park or

    something like that. That certainly is

    valuable service and needed service in

    the community, but where do people

    really need help?

    The reality of it is, when Martin Lu-

    ther King was in jail in Birmingham,

    he needed a lawyer to get him out, not

    a gardener, not a doctor, or pharma-

    cist. So I think when professionals

    use their professional tools for the

    public good, thats pro bono in my

    book.

    EPM: You also received a commu-

    nity service award for the DC Coali-

    tion for Housing Justice.

    Rawle: I did, and a lot of that was

    related to helping people who either

    were in predatory loans or who were

    in foreclosure rescue scams, so they

    could keep their family housing. A

    lot of my pro bono has been in the

    affordable housing arena, because I

    believe if the house is not right, eve-

    rything else falls apart. The home has

    to be the castle. So its been easy for

    me to use my professional training to

    help people in those scenarios, as well

    as teaching about housing issues at

    Howard University.

    EPM: What have you found to be

    most rewarding about being an attor-

    ney?

    whether I take that opportunity or not,

    thats on me.

    EPM: Youve been with the Mary-

    land state AARP office for quite a

    while. In your current position, what

    is your main role as Regional Vice

    President?

    Rawle: I think I would split my job

    in thirds, if you will. One-third of my

    job is the general administration and

    management of the business and fi-

    nancial affairs of AARPs business in

    the state of Maryland. The second

    phase or the second third of my job is

    to run and oversee our advocacy op-

    erations, which some people would

    call lobbying. And the third is the

    public education and community out-

    reach phase of the work we do, so it

    can be called external communica-

    tions -- what AARP is, what it does

    and how you can become involved

    and so forth.

    I wish I could tell you, that every time

    I come here, I have a list and the first

    three things on my list are manage-

    ment, the second three things are ad-

    vocacy, and so forth. Every time I put

    a list of ten together, Im lucky if I get

    three of them done, no matter what

    basket it happens to be in on any par-

    ticular day. In Maryland, we have

    850,000 members, so in some re-

    spects they are our constituents but

    they are also our volunteers.

    60 | Exceptional People Magazine | May-June 2011

  • EmpowermentEmpowermentEmpowermentEmpowerment

    AARP was offering a class. And the

    only requirement, if you came to the

    class, was that you had to agree to

    handle at least two bro bono cases. I

    ended up handling about 15 cases and

    probably consulting on about another

    20, inside and outside of the District

    of Columbia. I advised people in Ha-

    waii, in Minnesota. I actually had a

    trial in Dallas. What made me proud,

    with divine intervention and knocking

    on wood, is between 2004 and 2006,

    nobody we worked with lost their

    home.

    There were some days that were dark.

    The reality of it is that we were able

    to come up with the strength and the

    creative solutions sometimes com-

    munity support. Sometimes people

    don't realize the impact that a volun-

    tary appearance can have upon a

    judge. And Id say, You need to tell

    everybody in your friend and family