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Celebrate Pro Bono

Georgia's Pro Bono Month: Focus on Providing Legal Services

Monday, October 18, 2010

Members of the State Bar of Georgia are putting the focus on providing legal services to those who cannot afford to pay by participating in a number of pro bono-themed events across Georgia. The pro bono activities are part of the National Pro Bono Celebration scheduled for Oct. 24-30.

The National Pro Bono Celebration focuses attention to the legal work lawyers do in their communities to improve the lives of their friends and neighbors. According to a study released in February 2009, nearly three quarters of lawyers in the United States report doing pro bono work. “We believe the American Bar Association (ABA) recommendation that each lawyer performs a minimum of 50 hours of pro bono service each year allows the legal community to support the greater community,” said Mark Schickman, chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service.

“The pro bono events in Georgia, however, are being held throughout the month of October, not just the last week of the month,” said Mike Monahan, director of the State Bar of Georgia Pro Bono Project. “We’re a large state with an active legal community, and you can’t fit everything into one week!”

The pro bono activities vary throughout the state. For example, in north Georgia, the Dalton Regional Office of Georgia Legal Services Program is hosting an open house and reception for dozens of its volunteer lawyers and friends. The Atlanta Bar Association is sponsoring its annual Pro Bono Fair and Luncheon and the Columbus Bar Association is presenting pro bono awards during its October lunch meeting.

The State Bar of Georgia Pro Bono Project is hosting webinars that highlight pro bono opportunities during the Pro Bono Celebration week.

A complete list of events can be found on Georgia’s statewide volunteer lawyer and advocate support website, GeorgiaAdvocates.org.

In support of the national Pro Bono Celebration, the State Bar of Georgia, along with its Young Lawyers Division (YLD), has issued a resolution urging bar members to reflect on the call to provide access to the courts for Georgians with critical legal needs who cannot afford a lawyer and to join or sponsor a pro bono event during the celebration week.

“A recent study sanctioned by the Supreme Court of Georgia’s Committee on Civil Justice revealed that each year, more than 60 percent low- and moderate-income households in our state have at least one need for civil legal services,” said State Bar President Lester Tate. “In the current economic climate, we have an even greater need for Georgia attorneys to volunteer and provide pro bono or reduced-rate legal services to our fellow citizens.”

YLD President Michael Geoffroy said, “Too often, Georgians experiencing financial and other problems never make it through the courthouse door. They are either unaware of the laws that exist to help them in such situations, unable to afford legal assistance, or both. Programs such as the annual Pro Bono Celebration help inform the public about the programs and volunteer services provided by Georgia lawyers.”

“I am so proud of the generosity, commitment and imagination expressed by the attorneys in this state as they devised creative ways to highlight the need for pro bono service, as well as its extraordinary benefits,” said Chief Justice Carol W. Hunstein of the Supreme Court of Georgia. “I encourage everyone in the legal community to find ways to contribute their skills and expertise to people who would not otherwise be able to afford them.”

For more information on the Pro Bono Project co-sponsored by the Georgia Legal Services Program and the State Bar of Georgia, please contact Director Michael L. Monahan at 404-527-8762 or mikem@gabar.org.

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