by Kathy Para
JBA Pro Bono Committee Chair
The three-fold purpose of “Celebrate Pro Bono” week (Oct. 24-30), as designated by the American Bar Association, is to recognize the service of pro bono attorneys providing legal assistance to low-income persons, to recruit more pro bono attorneys, and to build awareness of opportunities for pro bono legal services in the broader community.
The Jacksonville Bar Association luncheon will take place at noon Sept. 30 at the Hyatt Downtown. Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles T. Canady will be the keynote speaker.
There will also be the Mayoral Proclamation Presentation of “Celebrate Pro Bono” week and the Pro Bono Opportunities Fair, including the presentation of the “Accept One Case” display board. The JBA luncheon will serve as the official kickoff of the local “Celebrate Pro Bono” observances.
As an important component of “Celebrate Pro Bono Week,” the “Accept One Case” display board will be making its debut and may become a regular part of The JBA member luncheons. It is part of the One Campaign offered by the Florida Supreme Court advancing the importance of pro bono representation and advocating for “One Client. One Attorney. One Promise.”
The “Accept One Case” board will be offered by the Fourth Circuit Pro Bono Committee to put attorneys in touch with persons in need. Attorneys will have the opportunity to review case summaries of low-income and vulnerable clients in need of legal representation and talk with other local pro bono attorneys if they are interested in getting involved.
If an attorney is inclined to accept a case, he/she will receive support with CLE training materials, document templates, expert resources, and professional liability coverage.
As attorneys, we have an obligation to help serve those who are less fortunate. The small sacrifice of time has a tremendous impact on the lives of those who have nothing to offer us in return for our services, except gratitude. As attorneys, we need to capitalize on the specialized skills we received in law school and utilize these skills to help the population who needs it most.
Think of it as the “giving tree” you see during the holiday season. You receive a piece of paper with some information on it, and you make a commitment to provide a gift for someone less fortunate. Magnify this selfless behavior and expand it to the work place and you have the One Campaign and the “Accept One Case” display.
Judge Jean Johnson, chair of the Fourth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee observes, “We have many, many attorneys in the Fourth Judicial Circuit who are already involved in pro bono work and for their efforts we are all deeply grateful. The reality is that the need is enormous. We need each attorney to take at least one pro bono case each year. The ‘Accept One Case’ display is a way for legal services agencies to connect individual attorneys to clients in need. Take one case, help one client, and make one promise.”
Additional local efforts and events in observance of Pro Bono Week are the Guardian ad Litem Annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner Oct. 2; the Pro Bono Opportunities Criminal Law Training Oct. 15, hosted by the Office of the Public Defender; and the Meet JALA-Meet the Judges-Meet the Candidates open house event Oct. 26.
Contact Kathy Para, Esq., at [email protected] for more information on any of the Celebrate Pro Bono observances.