Pro Bono Week this year is October 20 – 26

Pro Bono

National Pro Bono Celebration Oct. 20-26

Pro Bono is a Latin phrase that means done for the public good, without compensation. October 20 2013, is the beginning of Pro Bono Week, an international celebration of pro bono work started by the American Bar Association’s (“ABA”) National Pro Bono Celebration. The goal of celebrate pro bono is to get more legal professionals interested in doing pro bono work to ensure equal access to justice for all. The initiative was launched in 2009, as a response to the growing need for pro bono services in this harsh economy. According to the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service, the goals of the initiative include:

  • Recruiting more pro bono volunteers and increasing legal services to the poor and vulnerable.
  • Mobilizing community support for pro bono.
  • Fostering collaborative relationships.
  • Recognizing the pro bono efforts of America’s lawyers.

In an address to the National Pro Bono Summit on October 24, 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder said of pro bono work:

“We are bound by a responsibility to use our unique skills and training – not just to advance cases, but to serve a cause; and to help our nation fulfill its founding promise of equal justice under law…The obligation of pro bono service must become a part of the DNA of both the legal profession and of every lawyer.”

How you Can Get Involved

Pro Bono work is mostly thought of as something that attorneys do. However, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities available for paralegals; if you work in a law firm, you can even create your own volunteer opportunity.

Plan a Pro Bono Even for Your Law Firm

If you work in a law firm, perhaps the best way to find a pro bono opportunity is to create your own. Plan a pro bono event for the entire firm; legal fairs and ask-a-lawyer events generally have a great turn out and the whole firm can participate. Paralegals can organize and plan the event, answer the phones and supervise and direct the public during the event, and prepare basic pleadings and legal documents. Event planning tips and guides can be found on the ABA’s National Pro Bono Celebration Resources page.

Find a Pro Bono Event in Your Area

Independent paralegals and those who do not wish to plan an event for their firm can locate pro bono opportunities by:

  • Using the ABA’s Event Map. Just click on a marker in your area, and then use the zoom and directional buttons to find an event near you.
  • Contacting your state or local bar association. Many state and local bar associations have pro bono committees and regularly scheduled pro bono events. To find your bar association, use the State and Local Bar Association Directory provided by the ABA.
  • Getting in touch with a local Legal Aid clinic or society. Legal aid clinics and organizations provide free and reduced cost legal services to the public through-out the year. Find a legal aid organization near you by using the Find Help by State map provided by LawHelp.org or look for opportunities on the Legal Aid Society’s Pro Bono Practice web page.

Why It’s Important to Do Pro Bono Work

Pro bono work does not just help the community, it helps the person performing it by giving them a chance to give back to the community, interact with those who are most in need of legal services, network with other legal professionals, and develop new skills. Performing pro bono work also helps improve the general reputation of the legal profession, by showing the community that some of us in it care about those who cannot afford the legal assistance that everyone deserves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Shelley Riseden

Shelley M. Riseden is a freelance paralegal providing research, document preparation, and writing services to both attorneys and non-attorneys. She is an expert at conducting legal research and has a natural ability to grasp complex legal issues.Phone: 765.667.5139, E-mail: smriseden@earthlink.net or shelley@virtuallylegal.net, Skype: shelley.riseden, Yahoo: Virtually_Legal

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