By: Buck Lewis, Chair, ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service and Marissa LaVette, Assistant Staff Counsel, ABA Center for Pro Bono
The 2018 National Celebration of Pro Bono is quickly approaching. October 21-27, 2018 marks the 10th Annual National Celebration of Pro Bono. In honor of the 10th Anniversary of the National Celebration, the Standing Committee is proud to announce Justice Elena Kagan will serve as the Honorary Chair of the 2018 National Celebration of Pro Bono.
The Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service began the National Celebration in 2009 to showcase the incredible difference that pro bono lawyers make to our nation, to our system of justice, to our communities, and, most of all, to the clients they serve. The timing of the National Celebration of Pro Bono was particularly important. As economic conditions worsened, the need for pro bono services increased as more and more people struggled to afford access to an attorney. The response of attorneys to provide necessary pro bono services to those in need has been unprecedented. In the 10 years since the National Celebration of Pro Bono began, over 7000 events have taken place in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Canada. Pro bono lawyers have been recruited and trained, programs kicked off new projects, programs recognized the outstanding efforts of volunteers, law students were exposed to the power of pro bono, and new partnerships were developed. There was an outpouring of positive media exposure about lawyers, the legal profession, the American Bar Association, and the legal services community.
The National Celebration has focused on specific themes in the past four years, including service to veterans and homeless youth. In 2018, the Standing Committee is proud to join with ABA President Bob Carlson to highlight Disaster Resiliency pro bono. 2017 was a record year for disasters across the country. Disaster survivors face countless legal issues—from insurance disputes, FEMA appeals, landlord tenant disputes, consumer fraud, health and education issues, and so much more. Even before a disaster strikes, communities need legal assistance with disaster preparedness through business continuity planning, securing title documents, meeting insurance needs, and so much more. We are asking that you do your part to assist with disaster resiliency efforts by offering pro bono assistance to survivors or evacuees of disasters, or by helping your community prepare for a disaster.
In 2018, the Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service hopes to continue with the positive momentum of the last nine years. We need your help to keep the energy going by holding events to recognize the importance of and need for pro bono in your community. Register your events at www.celebrateprobono.org. Contact the ABA Center for Pro Bono at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance with planning your events. Let’s make 2018 the biggest year yet!