TBA Announces Statewide Pro Bono Public Service Day - Articles

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Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Mar 26, 2009

Free legal services to be offered across state on April 4

NASHVILLE, March 26, 2009 — On April 4, Tennessee attorneys across the state will participate in more than 45 events offering free legal services to those unable to afford a lawyer. This public service day is an historic collaboration among bar associations and legal organizations, legal aid groups, Tennessee’s law schools and law students, and members of the judiciary. It is being organized by the Tennessee Bar Association as part of its 4 ALL campaign.

 The 4 ALL campaign is a multi-faceted yearlong effort aimed at enhancing access to justice for Tennesseans who cannot afford legal representation. It is also designed to educate the legal profession and the public on the severity of the need for such services. In addition, the initiative involves collaborating with other legal organizations, the Tennessee Supreme Court and the state legislature to study access to justice issues and pursue initiatives that will increase access to justice for the poor.

TBA President Buck Lewis, a Memphis lawyer, has made access to justice the main focus of his year in office. Statistics show that even before the economic downturn, Tennessee was experiencing a legal services crisis. Last year there were 700,000 unmet legal problems in the state. The current troubled economy has only compounded the problem. In Tennessee today:

  • Approximately one in five citizens is living at or below the poverty line;
  • The number of food stamp recipients is greater than the populations of Chattanooga, Knoxville and the Tri-Cities combined; and
  • Legal service agencies are turning away over 40 percent of those that ask for help because they cannot handle the workload

Tennessee attorneys are ready and willing to help meet these needs. The 4/4 Pro Bono Public Service Day will involve the largest number of lawyers providing free legal assistance on one day in Tennessee history. In 18 cities, lawyers will provide assistance at walk-in legal clinics. Some clinics will provide advice on general legal issues, while others will serve specific populations such as veterans, first responders, domestic violence victims and the elderly. See a list of the events at www.tba.org/4ALL/4-4grid.html

In several others areas of the state, lawyers have come together to ensure that all unclaimed pro bono cases pending with legal services agencies in their region are assigned to attorneys by April 4. This “Meet the Need Challenge&rdquo allows attorneys who cannot be involved in person on 4/4 to participate in the 4ALL campaign.

Follow Developments on 4/4
On April 4, the TBA will provide updates on the public service projects being held across the state. Visit www.tba.org/4ALL/Media for information on the number of clients being served and photographs throughout the day.

Contacts for Quotes

TBA President Buck Lewis can be reached at (901) 487-0850 or blewis@bakerdonelson.com
TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur can be reached at (615) 383-7421 or aramsaur@tnbar.org

For additional information on the Tennessee Bar Association’s 4 ALL initiative please visit the 4 ALL media page at www.tba.org/4ALL/Media

For a list of free legal service projects around the state on 4/4 visit www.tba.org/4ALL/4-4grid.html

For a list of Tennessee law firms that have adopted formal pro bono policies visit www.tba.org/4ALL/probono_policies

To watch an educational video about Tennessee’s access to justice crisis please visit http://tba.mediasite.com

To watch the 30-second public service announcement developed for the campaign visit www.tba.org/4ALL/Media