by Kathy Para
Jacksonville Bar Association Pro Bono Committee Chair
At the Jacksonville Bar Association luncheon on Sept. 16, Mayor John Peyton proclaimed the week of October 25-31 as “Celebrate Pro Bono Week” in Jacksonville. The American Bar Association designated this week as a focus for pro bono recognition. With the commitment of the attorneys in the Fourth Judicial Circuit the local proclamation underscores and recognizes the lifelong commitments so many attorneys have made to the service of others.
While the ABA, The Florida Bar, The Jacksonville Bar Association and even Peyton honor the countless attorneys who go above and beyond to ensure that “justice for all” is a reality for all, when those seven days are over, the attorneys for whom they were specially meant will continue to go quietly about the business of helping those who cannot afford legal representation, and will continue to be rewarded every day that they do.
“We truly cannot do enough to honor these individuals who give so much of themselves to make sure that the American legal system works for all of us,” said Sarah Fowler, manager, Pro Bono JALA. “Without them, there would not be justice for all. Without these many selfless people, there is little doubt that this American ideal would ring extremely hollow.”
In honoring the efforts of these individuals, the organizers of “Celebrate Pro Bono Week” also hope to encourage and recruit even more attorneys to meet the ever-growing needs of the under-served community. While hundreds of attorneys offer countless hours to help the under-served, more help is needed. Thousands of northeast Florida residents continue to lack access to legal assistance that is often critical to their safety and independence, forcing them to resolve complex legal problems on their own, including domestic violence, divorce, child custody, evictions, mortgage foreclosures and physical and financial abuse of the elderly.
The Pro Bono Committee of the Jacksonville Bar Association will serve as the coordinating and facilitating group for local efforts to celebrate pro bono legal assistance. These and other events will take place in observance of Celebrate Pro Bono Week: Oct. 22, the second annual lawyer variety show “The Honorable Peter Fryefield Law Revue,” Times-Union Center, Terry Theatre; Oct. 27, 5:30-7 p.m., Meet JALA-Meet the Judges, Open House, 126 West Adams St.; and Oct. 29, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Florida Coastal School of Law, Fall Forum of Pro Bono and Volunteer Opportunities for Law Students.
Attorneys are encouraged to watch for more information on details of “Celebrate Pro Bono Week” events in the JBA Bulletin of the Financial News and Daily Record. Any representatives of agencies or firms providing pro bono legal services to low income persons are invited to participate in Celebrate Pro Bono observances in northeast Florida. Contact Kathy Para, Esq., Chairperson of the Pro Bono Committee for the Jacksonville Bar Association, for more information, to be added to the planning team, or to simply offer ideas. [email protected], 356-8371, ext. 363.