The National Pro Bono Celebration is underway this week. My colleague from the Arizona Attorney Magazine Editorial Board and Editor of Arizona Attorney Magazine, Tim Eigo, recently wrote and blogged about the on-going conversation and celebration of pro bono work. This week is one of many in which attorneys and legal professionals should recommit themselves to pro bono work and focus on what we can do individually and collectively to improve access to legal services for those who might not otherwise be able to afford it.
I was honored this year to be the recipient of my firm’s pro bono award, and continue to make every attempt to dedicate my time to help others in the community through the Volunteer Lawyers Program. And my firm was ranked the 48th top pro bono firm in the United States by The American Lawyer. Snell & Wilmer averaged 62.5 pro bono hours per lawyer, and the firm devoted over 26,200 hours to pro bono services last year.
During the week-long pro bono celebrations from the past two years, hundreds of sponsors coordinated over 1300 events in 48 states, a number of territories and Canada. Many events are currently underway to bring recognition to others, engage in planning sessions, and kick off new initiatives.
The American Bar Association has posted some questions to get the legal community talking and developing creative ideas about the future of pro bono. Everyone is encouraged to add his or her insight and engage in the discussion about pro bono.
The questions remaining for this week and November are:
- How do we ensure high quality pro bono work?
- Could well-trained legal assistants and paralegals assume greater responsibility and provide specific forms of legal relief? What matters would be appropriate to specialized form of representation?
- What should the relationship be between professional development and pro bono services?
- Should there be more opportunities to do international pro bono service projects?
- How can the services of various kinds of experts be more reasonably and affordably obtained?
- How can pro bono services be highlighted or publicized to improve the general public’s understanding of the importance of access to justice?
- How do pro bono legal service advance and protect the best interests of children in our society?
- How do pro bono legal services complement the work of legislatures in advancing the interests of society at large?
- How do pro bono legal services expand the options of the legislative and executive branches in promoting the well-being of society?
- What kind of “non-legal” services are most frequently needed in pro bono legal matters, and how might they be provided?
One of the greatest contributions any lawyer can make to the community is to dedicate time to pro bono services. Since the next step after discussion is action, I encourage everyone to take the momentum from this week and find a way to volunteer in your community throughout the next year.