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The Bar Bulletin
Jax Daily Record Thursday, Feb. 6, 202005:10 AM EST

Pro Bono: Project benefits City Rescue Mission

Christian Legal Society makes a difference.
Missy Davenport

By Missy Davenport • JBA Pro Bono Committee Chair

Since 2001, Jacksonville’s Christian Legal Society attorney chapter has conducted a pro bono service project at the City Rescue Mission. 

Members of the society, led by Blane McCarthy, provide legal guidance to residents in the Lifebuilders program several times each year. Lifebuilders is a 12- to 18-month residential recovery program at the mission’s McDuff campus designed to help participants overcome addiction and other destructive habits and become productive and self-sufficient members of society. 

In the past eight years, volunteers in the Christian Legal Society Pro Bono Project have conducted 839 interviews, volunteered almost 800 hours providing legal advice at City Rescue Mission outreach events and have accepted almost 400 cases.

The volunteer attorneys who assisted with this project in recent years include: Jessica Baker, Judi Cowart, McCarthy Crenshaw, Hollyn Foster, Karl Green, Thomas Harper, Jeanne Helton, Laura Jacqmein, Debbie Lee-Clark, Blane McCarthy, Bryan Owens, Rose Marie Preddy, Jeanine Sasser, Joseph Scone, William Scott, Timothy Snyder, John Tolson, Annie Tran and Michele Waddell.

Their efforts have positively impacted the lives of so many people and have enriched our community.

McCarthy and Michele Waddell discuss their experiences with this project here:

Blane McCarthy

Blane McCarthy 

Why was the project important to you?

Jacksonville’s Christian Legal Society attorney chapter has been honored to serve alongside the staff and other volunteers of the City Rescue Mission in its Lifebuilders program since 2001.

We realized that many of the obstacles that perpetuate homelessness are legal and we feel compelled to bring our skill set and knowledge to help address those matters.

Without exception, our sessions give the volunteer lawyers encouragement to continue serving the less fortunate. We meet City Rescue Mission residents who willingly tell their stories of how Jesus Christ has transformed their lives.

As scriptures declare, they are new creatures.

In Matthew, Chapter 25, Jesus tells a parable about people who helped the needy, which got the attention and commendation of the King:  The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40).

The CLS Pro Bono Project is an effort to well serve our fellow man and, in doing so, our King, Jesus Christ.

What advice do you have for other attorneys considering pro bono involvement?

Self-focus is a powerful force that takes effort to overcome.

The need for legal services is great and no other segment of the population but lawyers is equipped to meet that need.

Dismiss the fear that you don’t know enough, aren’t experienced enough or have too specialized a legal practice to help. You may not be able to fix every legal issue you encounter, but you know far more than the one needing help and your interest and sacrifice will be a great help.

Volunteer attorney Michele Waddell assists a Christian Legal Society clinic attendee at City Rescue Mission.

Michele Waddell 

Why was the project important to you?

I became a lawyer to be a voice for people, especially those who are disadvantaged. Participating in the pro bono clinic at City Rescue Mission is important to me because it allows me to do this. In addition, I am exposed to a variety of legal matters, which has helped me grow as an attorney.

What advice do you have for other attorneys considering pro bono involvement?

I think many avoid pro bono because they believe they don’t have the knowledge to handle the issues presented. However, much of what we do at City Rescue Mission is provide advice, rather than substantive legal work.

The students are appreciative just to have someone listen and care. When there is a case that we may not, or cannot, personally handle, both Christian Legal Society and Jacksonville Area Legal Aid have attorneys available to help.

My advice to those considering doing pro bono work is jump in with an open heart and mind.

Attorneys interested in pro bono opportunities in the 4th Judicial Circuit are encouraged to contact Missy Davenport at [email protected]

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