Each year, the American Bar Association designates a week to promote pro bono services across the country, and each year, the 4th Circuit participates in grand style.
This year, “Celebrate Pro Bono” week is Oct. 19-25. The purpose of the designation is to:
• Recognize the service of pro bono attorneys providing assistance to low-income persons
• Recruit more pro bono attorneys to provide legal services to low-income persons
• Build awareness of pro bono legal services beyond the legal community.
At The Jacksonville Bar Association luncheon Thursday, in support of Patriot Day and Celebrate Pro Bono Week, Chris Hand, chief of staff, presented Mayor Alvin Brown’s proclamation of the week in Jacksonville.
With the proclamation, the mayor’s office applauds and recognizes the value of pro bono service in Northeast Florida.
Every day, hundreds of local, low-income and vulnerable residents are assisted by pro bono attorneys, and each day, families are stabilized because of their efforts.
The Pro Bono Committee of the Bar working with the 4th Circuit Pro Bono Committee will serve as the coordinating and facilitating groups for local efforts that will span October.
Agencies and organizations that serve low-income clients with legal services are helping to plan and are invited to participate.
These include: the 4th Circuit Pro Bono Committee, Florida Coastal School of Law, Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, The Jacksonville Bar Association, Pro Bono Committee, Guardian ad Litem, Public Defender Matt Shirk’s office, Three Rivers Legal Services, Missing Link of Jacksonville Inc. and area law firms.
Many local efforts and events are scheduled and more are in development:
• Oct. 1–31: Take one case! The One Campaign – One Client. One Attorney. One Promise. Attorneys who don’t have at least one pro bono case are encouraged to visit the 4th Circuit pro bono case resource at jaxlegalaid.org, click on “Cases in Need of Placement with Pro Bono Attorneys,” and request more information on the case of a low-income client.
• Oct. 1-31: Lawyers in Libraries. This is a statewide initiative launched in 2013. The goal is to have pro bono volunteer lawyers in public libraries throughout Florida to speak with patrons about access to justice and to demonstrate through a PowerPoint presentation and handouts the free, online legal resources available to the public. Florida Legal Services has developed the presentation and handout for use by the attorneys. The goal is to have the main libraries in Florida counties staffed by a volunteer attorney and in as many branch libraries as possible. Interested pro bono attorneys should contact Kathy Para, JALA pro bono director, at [email protected], or Chardea Murray, pro bono coordinator, Three Rivers Legal Services, at [email protected]
• Oct. 6, 6-7:30 p.m. Jacksonville Area Legal Aid Intake Night and Case Acceptance Forum, City Rescue Mission, 426 S. McDuff Ave. This intake outreach service is coordinated by the Christian Legal Society. Pro bono attorneys provide legal guidance to residents in the Life Builders program at the mission. Pro bono attorneys may accept a case for follow-up after the intake night. Interested attorneys should contact Blane McCarthy at [email protected].
• Oct. 16, 4:30-5:30 p.m., Three Rivers Legal Services Pro Se Sealing and Expungement Clinic, Wells Fargo Historic Springfield Community Learning Center, 1601 N. Main St., second floor. For more information, contact Murray at [email protected].
• Oct. 22, 5:30-7 p.m.: JALA Open House and Wine Down – Celebrating the Legal Services Legacy (and the 100th birthday of its historic building at 126 W. Adams St.). The annual event is a thank you to pro bono attorneys and supporters, and to provide information on the depth and scope of civil legal services provided to low-income persons for nearly 80 years. Guests may take a 15-minute, self-guided tour of the JALA offices. After their tour, guests are invited to a reception, happy hour and birthday cake next door at the Zodiac restaurant and have an opportunity to meet some of our judges. Attorney response is appreciated, but not required, to Para at [email protected]
• Oct. 23, Florida Coastal School of Law, pro bono fall forum, 8787 Baypine Road, noon-1 p.m. The purpose is to encourage and educate students who will soon be practicing attorneys to get involved with pro bono representation of low-income clients. Legal services organizations and other community resource providers are invited to set up displays and distribute information on volunteer and pro bono opportunities for students and attorneys. Lunch will be provided. Contact Karen Millard, director of pro bono programs at Florida Coastal School of Law, at [email protected].
• Oct. 25, 9 a.m.-noon: Senior citizens wills and advance directives pro bono project, Pablo Towers, HUD Residential Center. Pro bono attorneys, Northeast Florida Paralegal Association members and Florida Coastal law students will team up to create advance planning documents for senior citizens residing in HUD-subsidized residential facilities. Attorneys interested in serving should contact Para at [email protected] or (904) 356-8371, ext. 363.
• Oct. 28, 5:30-8:30 p.m.: Florida Bar Business Law Section, Nonprofit Organizations Legal Services Forum, Florida Coastal School of Law, 8787 Baypine Road. Transactional attorneys will consult with local nonprofits regarding legal matters in the areas of contracts, employment, incorporation and real estate. Attorneys interested in providing counsel and advice to staff members of local nonprofits should contact John Macdonald at [email protected]. Nonprofit agencies interested in participating should contact Para at [email protected].
Attorneys are encouraged to contact Para with ideas, questions and to volunteer for any of the initiatives listed above at [email protected]