- 2012 - October - 22nd -

Do Good. Do Justice. Do Pro Bono.

by Kathy Para, The JBA Pro Bono Committee Chairperson

Do Good. Do Justice. Do Pro Bono.

This is the slogan of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono. During Celebrate Pro Bono week, we’re reminded of why we went to law school.

For many of us, we went to law school to help people — to ensure that all get a fair and fast chance at justice regardless of ability to pay. Yes, we want to make a good living for our families, but we also want to share our unique legal skills with the poor and underserved.

We know there are many people in need of legal assistance — but with limited and dwindling resources, how can we better pair people in need with pro bono attorneys willing to help?

Answering this question is one of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid’s (JALA) most important missions; making things easier and more efficient for everyone working in the pro bono community is always a priority.

Taking this into consideration, JALA has developed a new online resource that aims to make pro bono case placement much easier, as well as more meaningful.

The new online case review tool allows attorneys wishing to help a pro bono client to review synopses of cases awaiting placement, find cases in which they are interested, and receive all of the necessary documents and materials delivered right to their email inboxes.

To begin, attorneys simply visit jaxlegalaid.org, click “Cases In Need of Placement with Pro Bono Attorneys,” and begin reviewing case summaries right away. Attorneys who would like more information on a particular matter click, “Yes, I’d like to review this case further.” This link will allow the interested attorney to create an email that will go to the JALA case placement manager.

The JALA case placement manager will then verify that the person is licensed to practice law in Florida and will send additional case information for the attorney’s review by email. The attorney then has the choice to accept the case or not.

This online resource will allow attorneys to make more meaningful pro bono case selection choices, as they will be able to read through any case awaiting placement and pick those that interest them the most.

In addition to making the case selection process more accessible, the new online tool also speeds up the process, providing complete, relevant documents and information in a digital and downloadable format, ready for immediate delivery via email. This process is simple, fast and cost effective.

Upon case acceptance, pro bono attorneys receive support in several important ways. They are covered by JALA’s professional liability insurance when serving JALA clients; there are CLE webinar resources available for pro bono attorneys; pro bono attorneys who are new to a substantive area can be paired with an expert resource attorney who provides guidance along the way; and pro bono attorneys may also receive the assistance of law students for legal research and document drafting for the case.

“Equal Justice Under Law”

These words are carved over the entrance to the U.S. Supreme Court building. It’s what we believe. It’s a tenet on which our country was founded.

Assisting a pro bono client is a very real way that each attorney helps to ensure that this is true in our country – that people are afforded equal justice under law regardless of ability to pay.

The inscription on the rear door is “Justice, the Guardian of Liberty.” Certainly, when only people of means receive justice, the strength of our country and the freedom on which we stand is threatened.

Attorneys in the Fourth Judicial Circuit and throughout the state are asked to assist one client with one matter. One Client. One Attorney. One Promise. It’s time to celebrate pro bono and accept one case.

Attorneys interested in pro bono opportunities throughout the Fourth Judicial Circuit are encouraged to contact Kathy Para, Pro Bono Committee chairwoman, The Jacksonville Bar Association, at kathy.para@jaxlegalaid.org.

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