Free Legal Assistance Offered, Celebrated Each October in Tennessee
Tennessee lawyers are joining their colleagues across the country to honor the work to increase the meaningful access to justice and commitment to pro bono work. October is “Celebrate Pro Bono Month,” an opportunity to provide free legal services to those in need and honor the good work performed by lawyers every day. Tennessee’s month-long celebration overlaps with the National Pro Bono Celebration, planned for the last week of the month. The theme for the national event is “Rising to Meet the Challenge: Pro Bono Response to COVID-19.”
Recent research shows that there are 1.6 million Tennesseans living in poverty and about 60% of them will face at least one civil legal issue per year. Most of these individuals will not receive adequate legal help, for a variety of reasons. Many do not recognize that they have a legal issue, or they don’t know where to go for help. Others are intimidated to seek help; fear being turned down or just can’t access resources that are available. Celebrate Pro Bono Month provides an opportunity to educate the public about legal issues and the available legal resources, as well as providing life-changing help to individuals in need.
Now in its 12th year, Tennessee’s statewide Celebrate Pro Bono initiative brings together legal services providers with local bar associations, law schools, law firms and individual volunteers to offer free services to those unable to afford a lawyer. This year hundreds of volunteers will participate in dozens of events and activities across the state that will offer assistance to Tennesseans in need. Planned activities include legal advice clinics, education programs, recognition celebrations and other events.
Every year, Tennessee lawyers help thousands of clients by providing free legal assistance. The month of October is an opportunity to focus attention on the significant need for pro bono services as well as a celebration of the outstanding work of those in the legal community who volunteer their services throughout the year. Events, including opportunities to volunteer, will be promoted in TBA Today, via social media and on the TBA website throughout October. If you have information on an event, please share it with TBA.
The 2020 National Celebration of Pro Bono’s theme is "Rising to Meet the Challenge: Pro Bono Responds to COVID-19." ABA President Patricia Lee Refo asked that organizations and volunteers “meet the challenge” by participating in a variety of events. Refo noted that while this year’s events will look different, the ABA’s support for pro bono efforts remains the same. In addition to updated planning and implementation resources, the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono & Public Service and Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence last year issued “The Power of Pro Bono: A Judicial Toolkit for POWER Act Implementation,” designed to help victims of domestic, dating, sexual and stalking violence gain access to critical pro bono legal services. All of these resources are available on the ABA Celebrate Pro Bono webpage.
2020 Celebrate Pro Bono Month Events
Celebrate Pro Bono Month events will be promoted in TBA Today and on the TBA website throughout the month.
National Pro Bono Celebration – https://www.americanbar.org/groups/center-pro-bono/celebrate-pro-bono/
Share information about upcoming events with TBA – firstname.lastname@example.org
Pro Bono Recognition Programs
Tennessee Supreme Court Pro Bono Recognition Program for Attorneys, Law Students & Firms
The Tennessee Supreme Court launched an initiative in 2014 to honor attorneys and law students who complete 50 or more hours of pro bono service each year. Those who meet the goal are named “Attorney for Justice” or “Law Student for Justice” by the court, are listed online and are honored at events across the state. Law firms that averaged 50 or more hours of pro bono service per attorney also may apply for recognition. The program is entirely voluntary and based on self-reporting using individual attorney annual registration or this form. Law firms should apply using this form. Attorneys and law offices recognized for their pro bono service will be listed on the Tennessee Supreme Court's Access to Justice website.
AWA - Association for Women Attorneys
MALS - Memphis Area Legal Services
MBA - Memphis Bar Association
YLD - Young Lawyers Division