For civil proceedings, many people cannot afford the $100-$1000 hourly fee of a private lawyer. Many also do not realize that public defenders only represent defendants in criminal trials. Yet civil liabilities can have huge impacts on people’s lives. For those in need there are many organizations that coordinate pro bono work.
The last week of October of every year is “The National Celebration of Pro Bono”, an annual recognition of the pro bono work of so many legal professionals across the nation. One of my activities participating in this event was a submission about my thoughts on pro bono services and the services of the Neighborhood Legal Services Association, an outstanding organization that provides help in Southwestern PA:
“My parents taught me long ago that ‘Community Service is the rent we owe to society.'” In that vein, I have long aspired to give back to my beloved Pittsburgh — the city in which I have been lucky to grow up, privileged to practice law, and blessed to enjoy such good fortune. I have benefited from the many substantive [Continuing Legal Education classes] and ethical seminars that NLSA has presented over 33 years of my being an attorney and mediator, and I have striven to repay that kindness by volunteering for over three decades to ensure that those less fortunate have access to justice. I am honored to do what I can to share my resources with my indigent neighbors: from helping monetarily with the Equal Justice Campaign to chairing the annual Golf Tournament, from representing PFA victims to doing pro bono work at local legal clinics, from being the ACBA Chair of the Center for Voluntary Legal Resources to answering the call for Reduced Fee Family Law Services. I do not make this commitment merely to fulfill our obligations under Rule of Professional Conduct 6.01. I truly enjoy helping others; lightening the load of the over-burdened organizations that try to prevent people from “falling through the cracks;” and devoting myself to helping lawyers recapture the reputation of being part of a respected, dedicated profession and not merely cogs in a mercenary, money-grubbing business. Thank you, NLSA, for allowing me the opportunity to make significant contributions and to know that I tried to make a difference.”