Ala. State Bar ready to host Pro Bono Week

Published 9:57 pm Saturday, October 6, 2012

Members of the 4th Judicial Circuit Local Bar Outreach Network pose for a picture. Pictured are, from left, Will Fendley, Woody Jones, Jana Garner, Allen Reeves, Robert Turner, Jr., Stephanie Kemmer, Craig Cargile and William Holmes. --Submitted

How many employees say they’ll do work for free? In Alabama the 17,000 members of the State Bar have the opportunity to not only promote the professional responsibility, competence and satisfaction of its members, improve the administration of justice and increase public understanding and respect for the law, but they also have the opportunity to do pro bono work, meaning they’ll work with no compensation.

“Most people don’t realize that lawyers do a lot of pro bono – you know, work for free –and that’s part of what we’re supposed to do, and we’re glad to do it,” Allen Reeves, Dallas County Bar president, said. “Certainly in this area you’ve got a lot of folks that need help, that don’t have money and a lot of need. It helps remind us that we need to do those kinds of things.”

The pro bono work that lawyers do is something to celebrate. The Alabama State Bar agrees and is the reason why they are hosting Pro Bono Week Oct. 21 through Oct. 27.

Email newsletter signup

“Pro Bono Week was designed to celebrate the work of attorneys in providing access to the legal system for the poor,” Linda Lund, director of the Alabama State Bar’s volunteer lawyers program said. “It’s a wonderful way for us to reach out to the public and the Bar in a real focused effort to let everybody know about the good work that attorneys and the Bar Association does throughout the year,” she said.

Jana Garner, Alabama state bar commissioner for the 4th Judicial Circuit said, Dallas County, which is part of the 4th Judicial Circuit, is celebrating Pro Bono Week with a Continuing Legal Education program for the Bar Association and a reception for attorneys.

Garner helped organize the Black Belt CLE event for attorneys practicing within the 4th and 17th circuits, which is scheduled for Oct. 18 at the St. James Hotel.

Speakers will include Alabama State Bar President Phillip W. McCallum, Tony McLain, general counsel for the Alabama State Bar, and Ricky McKinney, director of the Indigent Defense Services of Alabama.

“We’re putting this event together to get these people here, so that we can open communication and talk about the things the Bar is doing that other attorneys might want to participate in if they don’t know about it, and things that can be done in this area,” Garner said.

The event in Selma, “is dealing directly with the lawyers,” Reeves said. “One of the things that the president of the State Bar is trying to do is, for the past fairly recent time, the larger cities have had more involvement with the State Bar and the smaller towns have not been as involved. He’s trying to reach out to get the more rural areas more involved with the Bar.”

While the president is seeking to invigorate and energize the smaller cities, cities all throughout the state will be hosting Pro Bono Week events.

Lund explained that Alabama has developed a celebration that is organized at the state level with activities locally throughout the state, which are sponsored by local Bar Associations, law schools and other groups that want to get involved.

Pro Bono Week will include, “everything from just celebrating the work that people do though receptions and honoring people who have done a lot of work throughout the year, to free legal clinics for low income individuals to CLE programs to educate lawyers on specific topics that promote pro bono or where there’s a need for pro bono services,” Lund said.