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October week dedicated to pro bono

by Kathy Para, Chairperson, The JBA Pro Bono Committee

Why celebrate pro bono? Slated for Oct. 21-27, this year's National Celebration of Pro Bono week comes at a crucial time. It's our goal to ensure justice for all people, no matter what their social class or what they can afford. The ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service chose to launch this important initiative three years ago partly in response to these economic times. The ABA's National Celebration of Pro Bono acts as an avenue to recognize those who provide service to the community, as well as to encourage others to get involved.

Although national in breadth, the celebration has a decidedly local purpose, with a guiding principle of the ABA Standing Committee to focus and help grow local pro bono efforts across the country. The celebration's official website, celebrateprobono.org, details ways in which local communities can maximize the attention and involvement the celebration receives nationally. The website also provides event ideas, tips on how to maximize volunteer efforts and how to effectively communicate the importance of the celebration.

In addition to providing national and local ideas to make the celebration a bigger and better experience, celebrateprobono.org also provides a feature called "JUST Stories," in which public interest and pro bono advocates tell stories describing legal outcomes they have accomplished for the less fortunate, and how their efforts impacted their clients' lives, as well as their own. Submissions and stories of local advocates may be posted on the website, and the ABA encourages it as a way to draw attention to the major efforts of the pro bono players across the country and in local communities. Watch this column and the website for the many events and observances planned for Northeast Florida and the Fourth Circuit.

The National Celebration of Pro Bono is an opportunity for the community and the country to recognize the hard work of pro bono attorneys. It also recognizes those people whose lives have been changed by these efforts. Pro bono involvement forms bonds and strong ties that strengthen our commitment in the legal community to access justice for all, regardless of the ability to pay. It's the commitment that lies at the core of the values on which our country and judicial system were founded. It is indeed a reason to celebrate.

Attorneys interested in becoming involved in pro bono service are encouraged to contact Kathy Para, chairperson, The JBA Pro Bono Committee at kathy.para@jaxlegalaid.org.

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