National Celebration of Pro Bono: New Orleans Perspective

Our friend Jenny Rizzo at the Pro Bono Project in New Orleans has written a lovely piece on the legal needs in the city and how legal professionals can volunteer to help. We invite you to read her piece here, and if you have a blog post about the Celebration, please let us know in the Comments below!

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Legal Providers Answer the Call to Serve Veterans

The National Celebration of Pro Bono is taking place October 23-29, 2016. The highlight of the 2016 celebration is the ABA’s Veterans Legal Services Initiative.  Participants in the 2016 celebration are encouraged to host programs focused on pro bono legal services for veterans during Pro Bono Celebration Week.  Legal services providers across the country have responded to the call for veterans’ assistance by scheduling events during the month of October that focus on veterans’ legal needs.

These events include the Stand Down event in Anchorage, AL on October 21. This event provides veterans with legal, medical, housing, and employment assistance.  Veterans wishing to attend the Anchorage Stand Down are even provided with free transportation to and from the event.  Similar events include the Homeless Veteran Stand Down in  Augusta, ME on October 22,  the Central Ohio Homeless Veterans Stand Down Clinic in Columbus, OH on October 18, and the Homeless Veterans Stand Down in Cheyenne in Cheyenne, WY on October, 27.

If you have not yet planned an event around serving veterans, never fear – there is still time. A straightforward event would be to plan a training or CLE around veterans’ issues.  You could even hold a “listening party” for the webinar, effectively Representing the Veteran Client: Legal and Cultural Basics, available here.

These are only a few of the many veterans’ assistance opportunities available during the 2016 Pro Bono Celebration week. Check out the ABA Celebrate Pro Bono website at and click on the Events tab or the Veteran’s Resources tab to find a veteran’s legal services opportunity near you!

For questions regarding the 2016 Celebrate Pro Bono week please contact us at

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Making a Difference with Pro Bono Work

“Like many of you, I am passionate about pro bono work and do my best to assist those in need. I believe that pro bono service  is a noble and necessary calling for all lawyers, so I urge you to participate in pro bono week.”

Read more here.

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Help! I Want to Celebrate Pro Bono – But How?!?!

The National Celebration of Pro Bono is October 23-29 this year. That means that if you have not already planned your Celebration, you still have 4 weeks to do it! But what, and how?!

Our website,, can help you out. We have an area dedicated to Event Ideas, sorted by type of event, where you can find inspiration and click on a category to get descriptions of specific events. Under the Resources tab, you can find information on using social media to promote your events, media resources, sample proclamations and more.

This year, we encourage you to plan events around the provision of legal services to veterans during the Celebration week through Veterans Day, November 11. Check out our specific page on veterans resources. We also encourage groups to organize veterans legal service activities on or around Memorial Day in May 2017. Organizations submitting and fulfilling a pledge to serve veterans on these two occasions will receive recognition from ABA President Linda Klein.

Before you leave, don’t forget to go shopping at the Celebration store  for gifts and mementos to hand out to your volunteers.

If you’re still not sure what you’d like to plan, or how to plan it, email us at and we’d be happy to help you out.

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Diversifying through pro bono work

“The American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct state that “every lawyer has a professional responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay” and suggest that lawyers should aspire to perform at least (50) hours of pro bono services per year. Therefore, most law schools encourage their students to participate in pro bono projects – a habit that hopefully many people will carry forward as they transition into practice.

While helping the public good is an obvious reason to do pro bono work, there are other positive benefits from volunteering your time.”

Read the rest here.

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Recruit Retiring Lawyers

“If even a small fraction of the retired, semi-retired, and transitioning baby-boom lawyers would engage in some form of meaningful pro bono work, they could have a sizeable impact on economic and social justice. Creating the infrastructure to support and sustain these new roles, however, is a significant and sensitive undertaking.” Read the full op-ed here.

The ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service has also examined the issues surrounding engagement of retired, or emeritus, attorneys in pro bono. The recently published 2016 Survey of Emeritus and Pro Bono Practice Rules: Participation, Recruitment and Case Placement captures many of the issues programs and attorneys alike should consider.

How does your organization engage retiring pro bono attorneys?

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The Profound Joy of Pro Bono

Pro bono lawyers are my heroes. It always warms my heart to listen to them talk about why they derive joy from doing pro bono work. These are my favorite reasons.

Read the full column here.



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Remembering a Pro Bono Hero: Esther Lardent

Esther Lardent

On behalf of the ABA’s Standing Committee for Pro Bono and Public Service, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Esther Lardent, founder of the Pro Bono Institute, who passed away this week.

Esther was a pro bono hero, which is not a term you hear every day. Esther was legendary in Boston legal circles because of her work in founding and serving as the first director of the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association, one of the first organized pro bono programs in the country which remains the premier pro bono force in Greater Boston. It was a great pleasure to get to know her because in addition to her leadership and dedication to inspiring the bar to make pro bono a major resource in meeting the legal needs of the poor, Esther was friendly, approachable and had a “wicked” sense of humor, to use a Boston term.

Many have already spoken of her extraordinary contributions to building a vibrant and productive pro bono culture in America’s law firms in and in-house legal departments, but Esther was also very involved in the ABA for many years. She served not only as an independent legal and policy consultant for the ABA but also as chair or member of numerous ABA committees and task forces, as well as on the Board of Governors and in the House of Delegates. Among her ABA accomplishments, she was the chief consultant for the ABA’s Death Penalty Representation Project at its inception and played a formative role in the creation of the ABA’s Commission on Immigration.

I sometimes considered Esther to be the conscience or watchdog of the ABA House of Delegates – when Esther rose to speak and told us we need to consider how a resolution impacted access to justice, or what should be added to ensure that a resolution served that important goal, everyone listened. There is no question her legacy will continue among those who knew her, but I have already discovered, in the few short days since her death, that those who never knew Esther but have listened to the heartfelt reminiscences about her life, are equally impressed and inspired.

Esther will be sorely missed but her work will live on among those dedicated, as was she, to ensuring that equal access to justice means justice for all.

Mary K. Ryan is a partner at the law firm of Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP and Chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono & Public Service.

For more on Esther’s legacy, read the statement of The Association of Pro Bono Counsel

We welcome you to leave your remembrances of Esther in the comments section.

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Pro Bono Innovation Grants from the Legal Services Corporation

LSC 2016 PBI Conference – Innovations in Legal Services from Legal Services Corporation on Vimeo.

In this video, Pro Bono Innovation Grants from the Legal Services Corporation are discussed in depth. The panel, Innovations in Legal Services,  took place at the Pro Bono Institute’s annual conference on March 24, 2016. LSC President Jim Sandman was the moderator and panelists were recipients of LSC Pro Bono Innovation Grants. Panelists include Laurie Hauber, Legal Services of Eastern Missouri; Adam Heintz, Legal Services NYC; and Emily Jarrell, Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association

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Paralegals in Paradise: NFPA Celebrates Pro Bono at Annual Conference

The National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) Annual Convention & Policy Meeting was hosted by the Hawaii Paralegal Association (HPA) from October 8, 2015 through October 11, 2015 at Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa in Honolulu.  This year’s annual convention and policy meeting “Paralegals in Paradise” was attended by delegates of Regions I, II, III, IV and V.

The NFPA Model Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility Guidelines provide that each paralegal should aspire to contribute 24 hours of community service, in addition to 24 hours to pro bono service annually.  During the year, paralegals voluntarily report hours via the NFPA Pro Bono/Community Service Hours Reporting Forms to record and report the number of hours contributed to local groups, pro bono agencies, events, associations and organizations.  Local associations may then report these hours to the state and local bar associations, highlighting the valuable contributions paralegals make to the delivery of pro bono legal services and to making access to justice a reality.

On Saturday, October 10, 2015, NFPA honored 66 paralegals from local associations throughout the United States for meeting and/or exceeding the recommended aspirations for completion of pro bono/community service hours.  These paralegals received certificates along with a commemorative pro bono pin.

Following the presentation of certificates and pins, NFPA also announced the 2015 pro bono award winners:

Individual Pro Bono Award:

Linda Teater, Rocky Mountain Paralegal  Association


Association Pro Bono Award:

Dallas Area Paralegal Association


Christine M. Flynn is a paralegal with the law firm Haggerty, Goldberg, Schleifer & Kupersmith in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and serves as Coordinator of Pro Bono for The National Federation of Paralegal Associations.

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