June 01, 2012

Senate committee cites work of ABA Military Pro Bono Project

The Senate Armed Services Committee acknowledged the work of the ABA Military Pro Bono Project last month when it released its committee report on the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.

The report, S. Rept. 112-173, stated that the committee is grateful for the support provided to military members by the ABA project, which is directed by the ABA Standing Committee on Legal Assistance for Military Personnel.

The project, founded in 2008, connects junior enlisted, active-duty military personnel and their families to civilian lawyers who provide free representation for civil legal issues beyond the scope of services provided by military legal-assistance offices. More than 1,000 cases have been referred to the project from Judge Advocate General (JAG) officers across the county and around the world. The project also includes Operation Stand-By, through which lawyers may volunteer to provide lawyer-to-lawyer consultations to military attorneys.

According to the committee report, the Military Pro Bono Project “has provided military legal assistance attorneys with a centralized referral point for pro bono counsel and overseen an efficient complement to existing military legal assistance programs.” The report added that JAGs of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard, and the Staff Judge Advocate to the Commandant of the Marine Corps have formally expressed their appreciation to the project’s network of lawyers

The report directed the Defense Department to study and recommend by March 2013 “methods through which additional resources and support can be given to the Military Pro Bono Project.”

The defense authorization legislation, approved by the committee May 24 and introduced June 4 as S. 3254, is awaiting a full Senate vote. 

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