“There is tremendous unmet need for high-quality, free legal services,” said Mark O’Brien, Executive Director of Pro Bono Net. “Pro bono attorneys are a key factor in helping to meet this need and deliver on the promise of equal justice. Volunteer Week provides a good opportunity to acknowledge and applaud their efforts.”
Millions of people face legal problems every year without an attorney, and overstretched legal aid organizations are forced to turn away half of those who come to them seeking help. The legal profession’s strong tradition of pro bono work is often the only hope for people facing civil legal problems. Some recent examples include:
• A pro bono attorney working with Legal Aid of North Carolina took on the case of a man who lost his job, then lost his house to foreclosure and, as a result of being homeless, lost custody of his son. The attorney helped him obtain the excess proceeds from the foreclosure sale of his house, which was enough to enable him to find new housing and begin working to get custody of his son back.
• An attorney working with the American Bar Association’
• In New York, attorneys volunteering with the City Bar Justice Center’s Veterans Assistance Project have helped 19 disabled veterans obtain the disability benefits they’re entitled to - an often daunting and difficult process, even when a veteran's disability is clear.
More than 60,000 attorneys use Pro Bono Net’s online platform, http://www.probono.net, to find and complete meaningful pro bono work. Pro Bono Net also developed and maintains LawHelp.org, which provides local legal referrals, know-your-rights information and self-help tools to people facing legal problems.
Sponsored by Points of Light Institute and HandsOn Network—the nation’s largest volunteer network—National Volunteer Week was established in 1974 and has grown exponentially each subsequent year, with literally thousands of volunteer projects and special events scheduled throughout the week. And with the one-year anniversary of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, the creation of the Volunteer Generation Fund and the resonant call to serve from the President, this year will be even more energizing and inspiring.
Legal professionals wishing to get involved can join Pro Bono Net by signing up at www.probono.net. Attorneys can also search for volunteer opportunities at www.probono.net/
More information on National Volunteer Week 2010 “Celebrating People in Action” can be found at www.handsonnetwork.org.
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About Pro Bono Net: Pro Bono Net is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing access to justice through increased volunteer lawyer participation and innovative use of technology. Founded in 1998, Pro Bono Net has created a powerful network of nonprofit legal aid providers, courts and bar associations across the United States and Canada. This network uses two Web-based platforms—www.probono.net and www.lawhelp.org—