Supporting justice: Kansas attorneys do their part
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Posted by: Beth Warrington
With only four years of history, the National Celebrate Pro Bono Week has grown and become a week dedicated to recognizing the work of pro bono attorneys and creating awareness of the continued need for equal access to justice. If you know an attorney who provides free legal services to those in need, make sure and say thank you during the American Bar Association’s Celebrate Pro Bono Week from October 20-26.
The Latin phrase pro bono is actually short for pro bono publico, which means for the public good. In the legal profession, pro bono refers to services performed for the public good for free of charge or at a substantially reduced charge. The ABA Model Rule 6.1 states that every lawyer has a professional responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay.
Just what exactly constitutes pro bono? Definitions vary but common to all definitions is the recognition that representation of low-income people in civil cases is an essential element. Broader definitions include representation of charitable organizations, civil rights work, activities for improving the legal system, and legal services for religious, civic, community, governmental and educational organizations.
As Kansans take up the chorus and celebrate, just what is there to celebrate?
The Kansas Bar Association has planned several events to create awareness about pro bono work and to recognize attorneys who volunteer their time and expertise. Teachers and students can learn more about pro bono in the October edition of Law Wise, a free KBA resource that includes lesson plans and additional resources. Information about free legal clinics, pro bono awards and a special Jeans for Justice fundraiser benefitting Kansas Legal Services may be found online at http://www.ksbar.org. Kansas Legal Services also has information online at http://www.kansaslegalservices.org.
- 150 Kansas attorneys will volunteer more than 3,500 hours to meet the legal needs of 700 low-income Kansans.
- 3,300 hours will be donated by law students and other volunteers.
- In family law, the area of highest need, nearly 200 will be handled by volunteer attorneys.
- Operated continuously since 1996, attorneys provide the Kansas Elder Law Hotline legal advice or information for senior citizens.