Jacksonville to Host Public Interest Lawyers for Equal Justice Conference

Leaders of the _, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and Jacksonville Urban League will speak

CHICAGO, May 10, 2012 – Mobilizing the nation’s legal community as the recession has intensified both the need for and shortage of free legal services for people with limited financial resources, the 2012 Equal Justice Conference will convene at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront May 17-19 in Jacksonville, Fla.

Now in its 13th year, the conference is sponsored by the _ Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service and the National Legal Aid & Defender Association.

Opening the conference will be ABA President Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III, who will underscore the legal profession’s commitment to providing free representation for people in need and discuss how unprecedented cuts to state court budgets across the country diminish access to justice for Americans. Robinson will speak on at 8:30 – 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 17.

Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, will be the luncheon speaker on Friday, May 18.

Richard Danford, chief executive officer of the Jacksonville Urban League, will speak at 8:30 – 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 19.

The conference has attracted nearly 600 registrants and will include more than 80 workshops and other events. Sessions will focus on maximizing free legal services for poor and low-income individuals and families who need legal assistance. Foreclosure and bankruptcy representation, legal programs for low-income military veterans, immigration issues, legal assistance for disaster victims and other current topics will be featured.

Throughout the conference, attendees will strategize on how the legal community can expand access to justice when funding is short, budgets are tight and economic challenges leading to layoffs, foreclosures and other problems have increased the need for free legal assistance among people with limited means.

Attending the conference will be pro bono and legal services program staff, judges, corporate counsel, court administrators, private lawyers, librarians, paralegals and bar association leaders. Participants will explore partnerships that must be created, resources that must be tapped and new issues facing clients in poverty.

News reporters may attend the conference at no charge. For media credentials or other information, please contact Ira Pilchen, , .

The ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service provides national leadership in policy, outreach, implementation and technical assistance activities designed to encourage, expand and improve pro bono activities and programs. It is also the sponsor of the National Pro Bono Week Celebration taking place Oct. 21 – 27, 2012.

With nearly 400,000 members, the _ is the world’s largest voluntary professional membership organization. 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.

Founded in 1911, the National Legal Aid & Defender Association is America’s oldest and largest nonprofit association devoted to excellence in the delivery of legal services to those who cannot afford counsel. For 100 years, NLADA has pioneered access to justice at the national, state and local level through the creation of our public defender system, development of nationally applicable standards for legal representation, groundbreaking legal legislation and the creation of important institutions such as the Legal Services Corporation. NLADA serves as the collective voice for our country’s civil legal aid and public defender services and provides advocacy, training, technical assistance and the NLADA Insurance Program to its members, who are comprised of legal professionals, institutions and the people they represent.

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Learn More About:  Access to JusticePro BonoRobinson, Bill