Pro bono publico (English: for the public good; usually shortened to pro bono) is a Latin phrase for professional work undertaken voluntarily and without payment or at a reduced fee as a public service. Unlike traditional volunteerism, it is service that uses the specific skills of professionals to provide services to those who are unable to afford them.
Lawyers in the United States are recommended under American Bar Association (ABA) ethical rules to contribute at least fifty hours of pro bono service per year.
The American Bar Association Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service chose to launch this important initiative because of the increasing need for pro bono services during these harsh economic times and the unprecedented response of attorneys to meet this demand. The National Pro Bono Celebration can be an effective strategic tool for enhancing and expanding local efforts to increase access to justice for all. Use it to increase pro bono participation and expand legal services to low income individuals and groups.
Although national in breadth, the Celebration provides an opportunity for local legal associations across the country to take the next step in their efforts to provide high quality legal services to those living on the social margins.
A guiding principle of the Pro Bono Committee is to support these local efforts and to assist in their growth and effectiveness by providing information, planning guides, resources, and consultation services through this website. The legal needs of the poor are local issues, and although nationwide, this celebration is intended to have a local focus and impact. Goals for the celebration include:
1. Recruiting more pro bono volunteers and increasing legal services to poor and vulnerable people.
2. Mobilizing community support for pro bono.
3. Fostering collaborative relationships
4. Recognizing the pro bono efforts of America’s lawyers
For more: http://www.probono.net/celebrateprobono/
Over the past seven years, with your help, the ABA’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service has succeeded in creating an annual national spotlight on pro bono.
Our collective efforts are helping to increase access to justice for all!
Presidential Memorandum — Establishment of the White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable
MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES
SUBJECT: Establishment of the White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to increase the availability of meaningful access to justice for individuals and families and thereby improve the outcomes of an array of Federal programs, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy. This Nation was founded in part on the promise of justice for all. Equal access to justice helps individuals and families receive health services, housing, education, and employment; enhances family stability and public safety; and secures the public’s faith in the American justice system. Equal access to justice also advances the missions of an array of Federal programs, particularly those designed to lift Americans out of poverty or to keep them securely in the middle class. But gaps in the availability of legal aid — including legal representation, advice, community education, and self-help and technology tools — for America’s poor and middle class threaten to undermine the promise of justice for all and constitute a crisis worthy of action by the Federal Government.
The majority of Americans who come to court do so without legal aid. They may be left by their economic circumstances to face life-altering events — such as losing a home or custody of children, or escaping domestic violence or elder abuse — on their own. More than 50 million Americans qualify for federally funded civil legal aid, but over half of those who seek assistance are turned away from legal aid organizations, which lack the funds and staff to meet the demand.
When people come into contact with or leave the criminal justice system, they are likely to face a range of legal issues. A victim of abuse may need a protective order, or a formerly incarcerated individual may need a driver’s license reinstated in order to get a job. Access to legal aid can help put people on a path to self-sufficiency, lead to better outcomes in the civil and criminal justice systems, and enhance the safety and strength of our communities. Increased legal resources in a community can also help courts process cases more effectively and more efficiently, saving time and money.
Federal programs that are designed to help the most vulnerable and underserved among us may more readily achieve their goals if they include legal aid among the range of services they provide.
By encouraging Federal departments and agencies to collaborate, share best practices, and consider the impact of legal services on the success of their programs, the Federal Government can enhance access to justice in our communities.
National Pro Bono Celebration
October 23-29, 2016