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ABA Launches Project Linking Volunteer Lawyers with Military Personnel Needing Civil Representation

Friday, September 19, 2008

  • By: Barbara Power
  • Organization: ABA

Release: Immediate
Media Contact: Barbara Power
Phone: 312-988-6147
Email: powerb@staff.abanet.org
Online: www.abanews.org

ABA Launches Project Linking Volunteer Lawyers with
Military Personnel Needing Civil Representation


NEW YORK CITY, Aug. 11, 2008 - The American Bar Association is launching a project that will allow civilian lawyers to represent active-duty military personnel in state and local courts.

Incoming ABA President H. Thomas Wells Jr. announced the ABA Military Pro Bono Project during his morning press conference at the Hilton New York today.

"The ABA Military Pro Bono Project will deliver much-needed pro bono civil legal assistance for the men and women serving our country. Extensive military engagements away from home have imposed legal burdens on our service personnel and their families," said Wells. "These military personnel have the same concerns as their civilian counterparts - they need help resolving credit issues, they have child custody concerns or they need help with guardianships and other matters."

The ABA project matches service men and women in need of legal representation in civil cases with volunteer lawyers from private firms. Under the project, active-duty service personnel and their eligible family members in need of legal representation first receive vetting from the judge advocate general officers on their military bases.

All cases referred will originate from a lawyer in a JAG office from one of the five service branches. The JAG lawyer conducts an initial interview to collect substantive case information and to determine income eligibility. Typically most referred clients are expected to have a pay grade of E6 or lower. The JAG lawyer also will determine if the case is legally meritorious and has adequate cause for referral.

A Web site developed for the project will facilitate matching service member cases and volunteer lawyers. Qualified firms wishing to volunteer to take these cases on a pro bono basis will register at the site. A match will occur when a case in a firm's geographic area falls in its substantive legal area of expertise. The Web site is at www.militaryprobono.org.

The ABA Military Pro Bono Project is jointly sponsored by the ABA Section on Litigation and the ABA Standing Committee on Legal Assistance for Military Personnel.

With more than 413,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

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