Editor’s note: Steve Xanthopolous, former Executive Director of West Tennessee Legal Services, passed away on June 25, 2018. We asked Steve’s former and our current colleague, Linda Seely, to share her thoughts about Steve for our blog.
By: Linda Seely, Director, ABA Dispute Resolution Section
In some respects, it seems that writing this, a tribute to my friend and colleague Steve Xanthopoulos should write itself. But my heart is heavy and my thoughts regarding Steve don’t come easy off my keyboard.
I first met Steve at a conference of legal aid providers. Every year the legal aid programs gather for several days of CLE programs, meetings of like-minded advocates, and to plan for the future. As is often the case, the meetings were sometimes pedantic, sometimes just plain boring. That is, until Steve showed up. This was a man who in many ways embodied a striking contradiction. He was whip smart- and he could out BS anyone in the room. But he was also a man with a big heart, a passion for justice, and an eye for making money. Under his leadership, the tiny legal aid program out of Jackson, Tennessee had a huge budget, owned three buildings, and had a national presence that some of the larger programs couldn’t even begin to emulate. The program didn’t focus on impact litigation, but instead focused its limited staff resources on big picture policy issues that could be advocated for outside the courtroom, where often times more impact could be had.
When Steve walked in the room, everything lit up. He had a great sense of humor, fun, and adventure. With Steve around, you never knew where you were going to end up or what you were going to do, whether it was cutting across 7 lanes of traffic on the New Jersey turnpike with him at the wheel and the car careening wildly, to a 2 am foray into the harbor in Baltimore for Greek food and a glass of ouzo, to rolling on the floor with laughter when he dressed up in his ‘special outfit’ (some of you may know of what I speak; the rest will have to email me for more).
Steve’s staff loved him. He cared about us both as advocates and as people. He cared when someone hurt and would support you when things fell apart in your life. He cared about the clients, and was always available when they needed him to be. He made sure we, the staff, put the clients first and foremost.
He lived his life to the fullest, for that I am grateful and glad. But I sure as heck will miss him.
You can read Steve’s obituary here. Please feel free to leave your memories of Steve in the comments.
Save the Date for the 10th Annual National Celebration of Pro Bono
October 21-27, 2018
Over the past nine years, with your help, the ABA’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service has succeeded in focusing an annual national spotlight on pro bono. During the 2017 National Celebration, over 700 organizations participating by planning more than 1300 events! Continue reading
Exciting news from Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court approved a pilot program that will allow attorneys to earn CLE credit for pro bono service. “Developed in conjunction with the Continuing Legal Education Board, the three-year pilot program will allow registered Pennsylvania lawyers to receive one CLE credit for every five hours of pro bono legal work completed.”
Find out more here!
The National Association of Pro Bono Professionals (NAPBPro) is an independent organization of pro bono professionals. NAPBPro, which was created in 1987, “is the only national organization devoted to promoting pro bono services to the poor and the professional development of pro bono managers and professionals and others interested in this field.” (NAPBPRO website, www.napbpro.org, 5/3/2018). Continue reading
The countdown is on! It’s just one week until the Equal Justice Conference (EJC) in San Diego. As the conference approaches, we offer some advice for those who may be attending for the first time:
Build your community
We’ve all heard the exhortation to network and there’s no better place than EJC. The group that will gather in San Diego is a wonderful and welcoming community of leaders who are committed to helping the next generation of advocates navigate the field– take advantage of the offer! View your time at EJC as an opportunity to both learn from your experienced colleagues and to start building a professional network that will help you achieve your programmatic goals.
Also take the time to get to know others new to the field, as these are the folks who you will be working with over the course of your career.
P.S. Don’t forget your business cards!
Plan for the present – and the future
If you’re new to your position, you may be overwhelmed by the amount of information thrown your way. Make sure to review the agenda beforehand, and strategize how best to utilize your time at the conference. Attend sessions that will be helpful for your current projects, but also sit in on panels that may provide information to help you prepare for work to come.
Keep the inspiration alive
You’ll likely be hit by inspiration several times during the conference. Don’t let these great ideas get away! Take the time at the end of each day – or the weekend – to reflect and debrief. Jot down your thoughts to share later with your colleagues and help you develop an action plan. You’ll be happy you did when you return to your office and find yourself back in the swing of your daily tasks and responsibilities.
Stay connected via social media
The hashtag for the 2018 Equal Justice Conference is #ejc18. Please use this hashtag on social media to stay connected!
We Hope to See You in San Diego!
Welcome back to Part 2 of our Pro bono Spotlight with Vince Levy and Blair Kaminsky of Holwell Shuster & Goldberg LLP. Continue reading
Today, we are highlighting the pro bono work by the attorneys of Holwell Shuster & Goldberg (HSG). HSG was founded in 2012 as a boutique commercial litigation firm with a strong commitment to pro bono. The founding partners envisioned a firm that would give back to society through pro bono work. We spoke with HSG Partners Blair Kaminsky and Vince Levy about HSG’s commitment to pro bono and some of the pro bono work being done by attorneys at the firm. Continue reading
One of our favorite topics during the year is learning about the pro bono efforts of law students during spring break. Check out this article to learn more about Georgia State University’s Alternative Spring Break projects from 2018.
What pro bono offerings did your law school have for spring break in 2018? Tell us about it in the comments!