Each year the American Bar Association designates a week to promote pro bono services across the country and each year the 4th Judicial Circuit participates in grand style.
This year "Celebrate Pro Bono" week is Oct. 20-26.
The purpose of the designation is to:
• To recognize the service of pro bono attorneys providing assistance to low-income persons.
• To recruit more pro bono attorneys to provide legal services to low-income persons.
• To build awareness of pro bono legal services in the broader community (not just the legal community).
The Pro Bono Committee of The Jacksonville Bar Association working with the 4th Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee will serve as the coordinating and facilitating groups for local efforts that will span the month of October.
Agencies and organizations that serve low-income clients with legal services are helping to plan and are invited to participate.
These include the 4th Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee; Florida Coastal School of Law; Jacksonville Area Legal Aid; The Jacksonville Bar Association, Pro Bono Committee; Guardian ad Litem; the office of Public Defender Matt Shirk; Three Rivers Legal Services; Missing Link of Jacksonville Inc.; and area law firms.
Many local efforts and events are already scheduled and more are in development:
• Oct. 1–31: Take one case! The One Campaign: One Client. One Attorney. One Promise: Attorneys who don't have at least one pro bono case are encouraged to visit the 4th Circuit online pro bono case resource at www.jaxlegalaid.org, click on "Cases in need of placement with pro bono attorneys" and request more information on the case of a low-income client.
• Oct. 12, 9 a.m.-noon: Senior citizens wills and advance directives pro bono project: Pablo Hamlet, HUD Residential Center. Pro bono attorneys, Northeast Florida Paralegal Association members and Florida Coastal School of Law students team up to create advance planning documents for senior citizens residing in HUD subsidized residential facilities. Attorneys interested in serving should contact Kathy Para, chairwoman, JBA Pro Bono Committee, [email protected], (904) 356-8371, ext. 363.
• Oct. 15, 6-7:30 p.m.: City Rescue Mission, 426 S. McDuff Ave., Jacksonville Area Legal Aid intake night and case acceptance forum. This intake outreach service is coordinated by the Christian Legal Society.
Pro bono attorneys provide legal guidance to residents in the Life Builders program at the City Rescue Mission. Pro bono attorneys may accept a case for follow-up after the intake night. Interested attorneys should contact Blane McCarthy at [email protected].
• Oct. 21-25: Lawyers in Libraries. This is a new statewide initiative for this year. The goal is to have pro pono volunteer lawyers in public libraries throughout Florida to speak with patrons about access to justice and to show through a PowerPoint presentation and a handout the free online legal resources available to the public. Florida Legal Services will develop the presentation and handout. The goal is to have the main libraries, and as many branches as possible, in all Florida counties, staffed by a volunteer attorney. Interested pro bono attorneys should contact Kathy Para, Pro Bono JALA, director, [email protected], or Chardea Murray, Esq., pro bono coordinator, Three Rivers Legal Services, [email protected].
• Tentative, Oct. 24, 1-4 p.m.: Pro bono case placement rally at Jacksonville Area Legal Aid. Legal community leaders will commit to report to the board room of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid with the task being to place at least pro bono cases with pro bono attorneys before the leader is "allowed" to go home. Cases will be identified by Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, Northeast Florida Medical Legal Partnership, and Three Rivers Legal Services. Plans are still being developed. Ideas and interest should be sent to Kathy Para, Esq., Pro Bono JALA, Director, [email protected]
• Oct. 29, 5:30-8:30 p.m.: Florida Bar Business Law Section, nonprofit organizations legal services forum, Florida Coastal School of Law, 8787 Baypine Road. Transactional attorneys will consult with local nonprofit organizations in the areas of contracts, employment, incorporation and real estate. Attorneys interested in providing counsel and advice to local nonprofits should contact John Macdonald at [email protected]. Nonprofit agencies interested in participating should contact Kathy Para at [email protected].
• Date to be determined: The Office of Public Defender Matt Shirk, special assistant public defender, pro bono opportunities and criminal law training. This training covers various topics including court procedures and representation in misdemeanor matters. Upon completion of the training session, participants will be appointed as special assistant public defenders (SAPDs) and become eligible for a later assignment to one misdemeanor case. Contact Lori at (904) 255-4740 to be added to the list for notification of the training date. Contact Kate Bedell, [email protected], for information or if you have questions about the SAPD pro bono project.
Attorneys are encouraged to contact Kathy Para, chairwoman, The JBA Pro Bono Committee with ideas, questions and to volunteer for any of the initiatives listed above, [email protected].