The annual National Pro Bono Celebration, often called “Pro Bono Week,” sponsored by the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service, begins on Monday, October 21 this year, in Washington, DC and across the country. This week-long event is designed to focus the attention of the legal community on the increased need for pro bono services during these challenging economic times and celebrates the outstanding work of lawyers who volunteer their services throughout the year.
There are several DC-area Pro Bono Celebration events and activities scheduled, including “Walk a Month in My Shoes” - A Poverty Simulation Experience for Pro Bono Attorneys Who Work with Low-Income Clients, about which we blogged last week. Many area law firms also are hosting their own Pro Bono Celebration events.
At Legal Aid, our pro bono partnerships with law firms and individual lawyers in private practice and government are critical to our work providing legal representation to our neighbors living in poverty. Last year alone, pro bono attorneys and paralegals throughout the city provided more than 25,000 hours of service, valued at more than eight million dollars, to Legal Aid’s client community.
Our pro bono community includes lawyers at area law firms who take on individual cases representing persons living in poverty, our extraordinary loaned associates who are embedded at Legal Aid for rotations, lawyers who conduct initial interviews at Legal Aid’s downtown office, paralegals who help staff our courthouse offices, and lawyers who participate in special projects such as our annual Medicare Part D open season initiative. These lawyers and paralegals help tenants stave off evictions and secure rights to safe and well-maintained housing, help families at risk of foreclosure maintain ownership of their homes, represent victims of domestic violence seeking protection orders, assist parents in achieving family stability through child custody and support arrangements, represent individuals seeking disability benefits because their deteriorating health prevents them from working, and ensure that persons living in poverty access benefits available to them.
This year -- as we mark Legal Aid’s 80th anniversary -- we want to especially thank and recognize our pro bono partners who help make justice real for the most vulnerable in our community. We celebrate your contribution not just during Pro Bono Week, but each and every day of the year. Thank you!