October Is 'Celebrate Pro Bono' Month

State and National Efforts

The Tennessee Bar Association is joining with legal organizations across the state for "Celebrate Pro Bono Month" in October. Activties are being planned now across Tennessee to bring attention to pro bono efforts of Tennessee lawyers, to help Tennessee citizens in need of legal assistance, and to provide training for Tennessee attorneys who take part in pro bono work.

"Despite welcome indications of improvements in the economy," TBA President Gail Vaughn Ashworth said, "the reality for many in our state is that they cannot afford basic legal services. The TBA is committed to providing all lawyers opportunities to provide free legal assistance to these needy Tennesseans."

Tennessee's Celebrate Pro Bono goes hand-in-hand with the national effort put forth by the American Bar Association, set for for Oct. 25 - 31. The celebration will showcase the great difference that pro bono lawyers make to the nation, its system of justice, its communities and, most of all, to the clients they serve. The week is also dedicated to the quest for more pro bono volunteers to meet the ever-growing legal needs of this country's most vulnerable citizens. Learn more at www.probono.net/celebrateprobono

Tennessee's Celebrate Pro Bono activities will continue the campaign launched by the TBA last year to tackle the growing need for access to our system of justice by those in need. The TBA's 4ALL campaign took on the problem on four fronts, with initiatives to educate, collaborate, legislate and participate.

'Building on 4 ALL' Success

Earlier this year on April 4, more than 1,300 Tennesseans received free legal advice on issues ranging from foreclosure and unemployment to custody and child support as part of "Pro Bono Public Service Day," a statewide campaign that featured more than 47 projects and involved close to 600 lawyers, who in one day provided nearly $600,000 worth of free legal service.

Highlights of the day included:

  • more than 140 clients served at clinics in Memphis " the largest client turnout in the state;
  • 100-percent participation from the members of the state Supreme Court, who turned out to thank volunteers in Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville;
  • more than 100 firefighters, police and emergency personnel provided with free wills and other end-of-life legal documents through the "Wills for Heroes" program in Nashville;
  • commitments from several locations to hold additional pro bono clinics in the future; and
  • a successful "Meet the Need" challenge in Knoxville where almost 50 lawyers stepped forward to claim 55 outstanding cases from the local legal aid agency, Legal Aid of East Tennessee.
  • more than 40 Tennessee law firms have also adopted formal pro bono policies and Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Janice Holder has been a leader in encouraging other firms to adopt policies. The TBA has model law firm pro bono policies available to assist your firm.

For more information on scheduled events for 'Celebrate Pro Bono,' go to www.tba.org/CPB_2009