In September, Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, in collaboration with Three Rivers Legal Services, started Estate Planning Intake Night on the second Tuesday evening of each month.
Because of limited budgets, JALA and Three Rivers are unable to provide staff attorney time for uncontested probate matters, simple wills and advance directives. It’s an area of law handled entirely by pro bono attorneys. Area law firms stepped forward to help fill this gap in civil legal services for low-income people.
These firms provided pro bono assistance during the first 12 months of Estate Planning Intake Night and most have committed to remaining on the rotation for year two: Akerman; Marks Gray; Terrell Hogan; Rogers Towers; GrayRobinson; Fisher Tousey; Foley & Lardner; Smith Hulsey; Holland & Knight; and Farah & Farah.
These attorneys interviewed clients and, in many cases, accepted cases for representation: Eddie Farah, Charles Farah, Tara Conner, Frank Fratello Jr., Matthew Hinson, Richard Britton, Daniel Bean, George (Buddy) Schulz Jr., Michael Gregory Prendergast, Daniel Coffman Jr. , Barbara Cocciolo, Richard Stockton, James Leslie Main, Mary Martha Colcote, Leanne McKnight Prendergast, Jonathan Russell Huffman, Stephen Paul Smith, E. Lanny Russell, Douglas John Milne, Emily Fish Magee, Timothy Bramwell, Kevin Hyde, Sharon Nicole McDonald, Beverly Furtick, Clay Burford Tousey Jr., Ann Stuart Hibble, Harris LaRue Bonnette, James (Jim) Nolan, Alexandria Hill, Adina Lea Pollan, Samuel Grier Wells, Patrick Daniel Coleman, Sally Anne Brown, Michael Allen Wodrich, Nawal Batteh McDaniel, Robert Hyde, Robert Pritchard, Janet Owens, Adam Keith Butman Brandon, Scott St. Amand, James McKee Riley Emily Carson Lange, Joseph Clay Meux Jr., Jacob Justin Payne, Leslie Goller, Patricia Dodson, Hollyn June Foster, Judith Setzer, Alan Matthew Pickert, Michael Kendall, John Bradford Kent, Kim Lorraine McCall, Tyler Oldenburg, Jill Faye Bechtold, Imani Boykin, Heather Solanka, Christian Edward Dodd, Samuel Allen Starkey, John Barber Macdonald and Johan Van Lierop.
Because of the pro bono efforts of these attorneys, about 150 low-income people received legal services for their probate and/or advance planning needs.
For the next 12-month rotation, these firms also will be part of the effort: Purcell, Flanagan, Hay and Greene and Brennan Manna Diamond.
During the intake night, pro bono attorneys get the facts of the estate planning matter using a checklist that guides the conversation. The attorney may agree to assist the client with the matter. However, case acceptance is not a requirement for participation that night.
If the matter is accepted, it is opened and assigned to that attorney. If the case is not accepted for representation that evening, it is opened for placement and staff members work to place the case with an attorney.
Pro bono attorneys who are interested in assisting a client receive the Basic Probate CLE webinar and/or the Wills/Advance Directives CLE webinar. New pro bono attorneys also can be paired with an expert resource attorney after accepting a pro bono case.
Estate Planning Intake Night is one of many examples of pro bono attorneys stepping up to help fill the justice gap. Legal services must be available to all, not just to those who are able to pay.
Attorneys who participate in pro bono efforts strengthen our community and our system of justice. We are grateful for their commitment.
For information on pro bono opportunities throughout the 4th Judicial Circuit, interested attorneys are encouraged to contact Kathy Para, chair of The JBA Pro Bono Committee, at email@example.com.