Pro Bono News

Pro Bono Legal Service Integral to Worcester Lawyers' Work (MA)

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Pro Bono Legal Service Integral to Worcester Lawyers' Work

"WORCESTER - Lawyers are portrayed in popular culture as everything from defenders of justice to unscrupulous schemers, the subject of countless jokes and quotes.

Recent recognition of Worcester-area lawyers spotlights an often-overlooked contribution these professionals make: taking time away from their billable hours for clients who may pay them handsomely, to donate pro bono, or uncompensated, legal services to persons of limited means or to nonprofit charitable organizations.

The American Bar Association designated last week as National Pro Bono Week, to call attention to the need for pro bono services and celebrate lawyers who donate their time to those who cannot afford a lawyer.

It’s an investment in the community that many lawyers said was second nature to being a good lawyer.

Bowditch & Dewey LLP was nationally recognized by the ABA at a summit outside Washington, D.C. last month, with its ABA Outstanding Medical-Legal Partnership Pro Bono Advocacy Award.

The award celebrates Bowditch’s years of pro bono commitment to “meeting the health-harming needs of low-income families in Central Massachusetts, including through the Community Legal Aid Medical-Legal Partnership with UMass Memorial Medical Center,” according to the association.

Also, the state Supreme Judicial Court’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services honored three local lawyers on Thursday with awards. They were Rhonda L. Bachrach, for her exemplary record as a volunteer attorney for programs administered by Community Legal Aid, the Worcester County Bar Association and CLA’s medical-legal partnership with UMass Memorial Health Care; and Douglas L. Fox and Lawrence E. Cohen, for extraordinary dedication to providing pro bono legal services for more than 30 years to the residents of Jeremiah’s Inn, a residential recovery program in Worcester, according to a news release from the SJC.

The SJC set in its rules of professional conduct an expectation that a lawyer should provide annually at least 25 hours of pro bono legal services for the benefit of persons of limited means, or contribute from $250 to 1% of the lawyer’s annual taxable professional income to support legal services to persons of limited means. Many in Worcester go well above and beyond that standard..."

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