ABA Recognizes Pro Bono Work by Lawyers in First National Celebration

CHICAGO, July 8, 2009 – For one week in October law schools, law firms, bar associations and other legal groups from New York to New Orleans and Boston to Seattle will recognize work done on behalf of the poor and underserved with the first national pro bono celebration. The _ Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service is sponsoring this pro bono recognition from October 25th through the 31st.

Pro bono refers to legal work that lawyers do without a fee for the benefit of their communities.  This work can include representing individuals near the poverty line in civil cases such as landlord-tenant disputes, custody issues or foreclosures.  It can also include legal work on behalf of an organization that serves the poor, such as a homeless shelter.

“The legal profession in the United States is among the very few that calls on its members to make a difference in their communities through pro bono work. We take pride in the fact that nearly three quarters of lawyers—73 percent—report providing free legal work for people of limited means,” ABA President H. Thomas Wells Jr. said.

He pointed out that the ABA has an aspirational goal for each lawyer to provide 50 hours of pro bono service each year. “This celebration offers a time for lawyers to reflect on this core value of the profession. Pro bono work brings hope to the powerless and gives a voice against injustice. While we have done much, there is still so much to be done.”

As part of the National Pro Bono Celebration Week, former Vice President Walter Mondale will speak during an Oct. 30 Civil Gideon continuing legal education program sponsored by the Minnesota State Bar at the University of St. Thomas Law School in Minneapolis. Also during that week the Pennsylvania State Bar will offer child advocacy training in Philadelphia and the Wyoming State Bar will present a legal clinic at the Cheyenne Public Library.

To date local organizers have planned more than 180 events in 39 states.

“We are gratified to see the response from the legal community,” said Mark Schickman, chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service, who also serves as the chair of the inaugural pro bono event.  “In addition to legal clinics, we have seen law firms planning events to recruit more lawyers to take on pro bono projects, continuing legal education programs on such topics as domestic violence and bankruptcy, and a series of bar and law school symposia throughout the San Francisco Bay area.”

With more than 400,000 members, the _ is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world.  As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

Learn More About:  Pro BonoWells, H. Thomas Jr.