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Celebrate Pro Bono

Featured Events 2009

Featured Event Highlights of 2009


Lawyers in Utica, New York recognize the power of the cinema to spotlight the role of pro bono lawyers in providing access to justice for people on the social margins, and to inspire a new generation of pro bono volunteers.

On Tuesday, October 27 in Utica, New York, the pro bono classic, To Kill A Mockingbird, was featured twice at the Stanley Theater. At 10 a.m., the movie was shown to students , and then was viewed by the local community at 7 p.m. Admission is free. Based on the novel of the same name by Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockinbird follows the story of pro bono attorney Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) and his representation of an unjustly accused man, Tom Robinson (Brock Peters). The film is #1 on the American Film Institute's list of best courtroom dramas. This event is sponsored by the Oneida County Bar Association Pro Bono Committee, and the Law Offices of Cosentino, Snyder and Quinn.



In a creative spin both on American Idol and the traditional pro bono fair, Rochester's Pro Bono Idol lets volunteer attorneys in Rochester, New York take center stage in a week-long series of auditions sponsored by Volunteer Legal Services Project of Monroe County, Inc., Pro Bono NY, a New York State Unified Court System Access to Justice Partnership, and the Monroe County Bar Association.

Hiscock & Barclay, Harter Secrest & Emery, Woods Oviatt Gilman and Thomson Reuters will audition from Monday, October 26 through Thursday, October 29, 2009. Friday, October 30, 2009 will be reserved for small firms and solo practitioners to audition at the Monroe County Bar Association's Rubin Center for Education.

During their auditions, attorneys will hear presentations by Volunteer Legal Services Project, the Arts & Cultural Council for Greater Rochester, Flower City Habitat for Humanity, Farmworker Legal Services of New York, Catholic Charities of Wayne County and the Legal Aid Society of Rochester.

Members of New York State's Seventh Judicial District's Pro Bono Action Now Committee will be invited to attend all Pro Bono Idol auditions and serve as judges, a natural role for the Hon. Thomas M. Van Strydonck and other members of the judiciary who serve on the Committee. Who will be Rochester's Pro Bono Idol? The group with the largest number of attorneys in attendance!

The winner of Pro Bono Idol will receive fabulous prizes - the first pick of pro bono cases for the month of November, and be featured in Rochester's Daily Record newspaper's monthly Pro Bono Spotlight column!

To register for an audition, please contact Linda Kostin, Esq. at or 585-295-5703.




On October 28, thousands of homeless San Franciscans will be welcomed to the Bill Graham Auditorium in San Francisco by a bevy of volunteers who will assist them in accessing a wide range of needed services, all available under one roof for the day. Pro bono attorneys will offer brief legal advice or help with intake for legal problems. These legal services are part of Project Homeless Connect's wholistic approach to the helping individuals move off of the streets and into safe housing. Participants will be able to accomplish on one day what might normally take eight months or longer. Hundreds of government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and corporations join hands regularly in San Francisco to provide clients with an array of essential services: legal, medical, and dental care, food, housing,family support, employment counseling and job placement, mental health and substance abuse counseling, eyeglasses, hygiene products, ID cards, and much more. Volunteer Legal Services Program (VLSP) is an integral part of this integrated service-delivery model. Lawyers who have volunteered for Project Homeless Connect in the past describe the experience as "very moving." With widespread foreclosures and the needs of returning veterans on the rise, there is an increasing demand for the essential, efficient services provided through Project Homeless Connect. This year, VLSP will be providing much needed legal services as part of the National Celebration of Pro Bono, squarle meeting the celebration's goals of increasing the delivery of pro bono services .




Pisgah Legal Services and the Mountain Area Volunteer Lawyers (MAVL) Program of Western North Carolina, will say "thank you" to all our volunteer pro bono attorneys in a very special way.

As part of the First Annual ABA Sponsored Pro Bono Week, we are hosting a Halloween-themed cocktail party featuring Pro Bono Attorney Musicians! Tressa's Downtown Jazz and Blues in Asheville, NC, has generously donated their club to celebrate our pro bono lawyers, and a dozen local barristers will break out their guitars, drums, keys, and harmonicas to jam on Thursday night, October 29, 2009 from 5-8pm. Alt-Country, Blues, and Bluegrass will light up the club as pro bono lawyers shine and express their musical talent.

Organized by MAVL Attorney Coordinator, Jennifer Foster, a musician herself, the event illustrates the oft-neglected creative side of lawyers, showing that pro bono community can be fun, as well as rewarding.



The Onondaga Bar Association's focal event for the National Celebration of Pro Bono week is a movie premiere at the historic RedHouse Arts Center in Syracuse. On the evening of Monday, October 26, a newly-produced, professional-grade Landlord/Tenant Training video will be featured at the gala event. 'Academy awards' will be distributed to featured volunteer attorneys.

Deborah O' Shea, Coordinator of the Volunteer Lawyer Project of the Onondaga Bar Association, commented that " The project was daunting in its scope. The attorneys could not envision themselves acting in the film. They knew we wanted to have the outcome of the film a true replication of the real experience in city court, but could not see us finalizing all the aspects required to tie it all together and actually make it happen. We had a difficult time clearing the courts to be able to film for the whole day needed.

Federal Magistrate Judge George Lowe, who plays the presiding judge in the film, arranged to clear the Federal Courts for the whole day of filming. O'Shea wrote a script of four typical landlord tenant eviction cases highlighting defenses most likely to be utilized by an attorney in court.Such an ambitious script required a large cast; a casting call was held at the Syracuse University College of Law for students to portray the tenants in the film. Pro bono attorney volunteer and law students then were coached and their individual parts written and rehearsed.

The result is a high-quality training film that will be used extensively with volunteer lawyers in the VLP's Landlord Tenant Project. O'Shea observed, "The experience was so true Hollywood we were all amazed with the shooting process and the takes required. The outcome is so professional that those involved were quite proud we actually accomplished a goal we all felt might be unachievable. Everyone was taken out of their comfort level but rose grandly to the challenge. Plus the training video will be invaluable as a tool to give attorneys confidence in court."

For additional information contact: Deborah O'Shea: 315-471-2667

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