e.Bulletin for June 2012
MESSAGE FROM PRESIDENT ROD SNOW
Lend a Learned Hand – “Check Yes” to Volunteer for a Pro Bono Opportunity
As many of you know, the Bar’s “Check Yes” campaign is now in full swing. Members of the Pro Bono Commission, the Bar’s pro bono coordinator and the pro bono director at Utah Legal Services are in the process of meeting with members of various law firms and government offices to assist in the development of written pro bono policies and to encourage lawyers to “check yes” on their bar license renewal application for the opportunity to volunteer to take a pro bono case, if called.
The state is being organized by judicial districts. Each of the judicial districts will have a panel of local attorneys who have volunteered to take a pro bono case. Committees will be organized for each judicial district (PBC) and many of the districts will be chaired or co-chaired by a member of the judiciary. Cases will be assigned as determined by the committees. You may also volunteer to serve on the PBC for your district. Both litigation and transaction lawyers are needed. Free CLE will be offered to those who have volunteered and panels will be organized by experience and expertise where possible.
Please “check yes” on your license renewal application to be assigned to a panel in your respective district. There is a significant unmet need for our services to assist those who are at or below 125% of poverty level. Our motto, as coined by the co chair of the Bar Commission’s Pro Bono Committee, Rob Rice, is “Lend a Learned Hand.” Judge Hand stated, “Thou shalt not ration justice.”
As Justice Lewis Powell noted, “Equal Justice Under the Law is not merely a caption on the façade of the Supreme Court building; it is perhaps the most inspiring ideal of our society. It is fundamental that justice should be the same, in substance and availability, without regard to economic status.” Alexander Hamilton said, “The first duty of society is justice.” And Dickens said, “There is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt, as injustice.”
Approximately 62% of the funding for Utah’s legal service organizations has come from the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) which is funded by Congress. Since 2008 the funding for the LSC has been cut from 420 million dollars to 348 million dollars for FY 2012.
At the end of 2011 LSC conducted a survey to assess the impact of funding reductions on their operations. In 2012, LSC grantees project a total loss of 1,226 full time employees between December of 2010 and 2012. This includes 582 attorneys, 250 paralegals and 394 support staff. LSC estimates 81,000 fewer low-income Americans will receive assistance from the programs it funds during 2012 than received assistance in 2011.
We can no longer stand idly watching a growing number of our low income friends and neighbors denied access to justice where there is a critical need. As professionals and lawyers, we are duty-bound to make a difference, and now is the time. This is our time and our opportunity to step forward and make a difference by “checking Yes.”
These cuts have translated into funding losses for Utah of $678,328 since 2009. Consequently Legal Aid and ULS helped 4,864 fewer individuals in 2010/2011 than in 2009/2010. The need is great and rising. “Lend a Learned Hand” is calling all of us to “Check Yes” on this year’s license application.
So much good work goes on quietly, without fanfare or notice, by so many members of our Bar. Over 70% of you responded last year to the Bar Survey that you engage in pro bono work on a weekly basis. We recognize what you are doing and thank you for your efforts. The Bar’s “Check Yes” campaign and program is simply a reorganization and revitalization of our efforts, facilitating the delivery of pro bono services to qualified individuals and families in an efficient manner.
As Sandra Day O’Connor has stated, “Certainly, life as a lawyer is complex today. The ever-increasing pressures of the legal marketplace, the need to bill hours, to market to clients, and to attend to the bottom line, have made fulfilling the responsibilities of community service quite difficult. But public service marks the difference between a business and a profession. A profession must devote itself first to the community it is responsible to serve. And I can imagine no greater duty than fulfilling this obligation. And I can imagine no greater pleasure.”
Please join us in “Checking Yes” on this year’s license renewal application and “Lend a Learned Hand.”
June 2012 E-News
Online License Renewal Now Open
2012 Summer Convention - Register Now
MCLE Compliance Notification