Thousands of lawyers, law firms, law schools and pro bono organizations across the country participated in volunteer events as part of the National Celebration of Pro Bono, which ran from Oct. 20-26. This year, ABA President Judy Perry Martinez asked volunteers to help address the need for legal assistance for survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
Two events that shone a spotlight on the need were tours of the D.C. Superior Court on Oct. 21 and 24, by the Washington Council of Lawyers and the Network for Victim Recovery of D.C. (NVRDC). Alex Scott, pro bono coordinating attorney at NVRDC, showed visitors the process and resources available for assisting survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault at the courthouse using civil protection orders and advocating for crime victims’ rights. Although anumber of legal and social services groups have established programs at the courthouse, including Legal Aid of the District of Columbia, DC Volunteer Lawyers Project and DC Safe, the tours highlighted the need for more volunteer lawyers to offer their services to this vulnerable community.
On Oct. 22, in Martinez’s hometown, she met with the Southern Louisiana Legal Services team at the New Orleans Family Justice Center (FJC) and strategized expanding pro bono opportunities to assist survivors. The FJC partners with agencies that address family violence, child abuse, sexual assault and stalking by providing crisis services, legal services, advocacy and case management.
The National Celebration of Pro Bono began in 2009 to showcase the difference that pro bono lawyers can make to the nation, to the justice system, to communities and, most of all, to the clients who are served. In the last 11 years, more than 8,000 events have taken place in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Canada.
- Celebrate Pro Bono event page
- ABA Center for Pro Bono
- ABA Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence
- ABA Journal: Pro bono inspired a survivor of domestic violence to go to law school
- ABA Journal: Mississippi ranks last when it comes to access to justice; Tiffany Graves hopes to change that