January 31, 2014

GIVING BACK: Lawyers under Attack in Turkey

Richard Pena

Whether a lawyer is opening a law office or has been practicing law for many years, the issue of doing pro bono usually gets back to the same bumps in the road. The two main reasons given by lawyers for not helping those in need are (1) “I don’t have time” or (2) “I lack the expertise or skills that would be needed.”

Through the 37 years that I have practiced law, I have learned that you can find the time to do pro bono, and if you graduated from law school and passed a bar exam, you have or can learn the skills.

A valid real-world obstacle to doing pro bono is that you need to pay the bills. But one of life’s lessons I have learned along the way is that if you do the right thing, the cases and money will come. Pro bono gives us all the opportunity to do the right thing.

Recently, I led a delegation of U.S. lawyers to Turkey. We went as an international exchange and met with lawyers, professors, law students, and leaders in local bar associations. What started out as a mission of understanding and an exchange quickly turned into a very real drama having to do with the lawyers of Turkey and their standing up for the rule of law and fair trials. After learning of their plight, I realized I would never again look at pro bono the same way. Below is a brief account of what the lawyers in Turkey are facing. Perhaps after reading about their situation, you will realize that doing pro bono is the least we can do for preserving the rule of law.

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