Womble Carlyle recruits for legal assistance project for veterans

This article from the Winston-Salem Journal sure sounds like a very worthy volunteer opportuity for paralegals (& others):

"A statewide pro-bono project started by Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice PLLC is recruiting licensed North Carolina attorneys, supervised paralegals, legal-support staff and law students to provide free legal assistance for military veterans."


Helen Raschke Pro Bono Award

Must read this very inspiring article from the The Black Hills Pioneer (SD)

"If you were to talk to Helen Raschke of Lead, she would tell you that the best years of her life were spent doing pro bono work because she was helping people in trouble.

"In April of this year, Raschke was honored as an award was given in her name for the work she did for 16 years as a Private Attorney Coordinator -- a job that didn't exist before she started at West Texas Legal Services in Wichita Falls, Texas. The Helen Raschke Pro Bono Award will be awarded annually to the most helpful legal assistant/secretary for a pro bono attorney. In her speech before announcing the first recipient of the award, Raschke said, 'They all need to be valued and appreciated for enabling more legal services to be provided to the poor [PDF]. This new award will be a token of our admiration, respect and appreciation.' She also added, 'The secretary could make or break your day.'"

Helen's sure got that right!


"Senior Legal Hotline connects seniors with the experts"

Sounds like a good volunteering opportunity described in this Chico, CA newspaper article. Does your local government or bar association offer similar programs?

"The Senior Legal Hotline is surely one of the best kept secrets. The hotline provides California residents over the age of 60 with fast, accurate advice on any legal subject by phone, from Social Security issues to age discrimination, housing and elder abuse.

"Sound too good to be true? The service is provided by a team of lawyers, paralegals [volunteer info PDF], interns and volunteers who help more than 10,000 callers a year solve problems faced by seniors, and may offer limited extra assistance when required. Perhaps a child custody problem arises, where a grandparent is held out of the health care system. Or, as many of callers can attest, seniors are pressured to obtain a loan they neither need nor can afford, and require extraction from deals that further place them in financial jeopardy."


NFPA Pro Bono Conference

Tip of that hat to LawCrossing for pointing to this info:

"While reviewing news releases and other noteworthy items pertaining to the paralegal world this week, I came across a notice about an upcoming Pro Bono Conference sponsored by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA). The conference, which will be held in Denver at Holland & Hart on March 24 and 25, 2007, will teach legal assistants and paralegals how to find local and national pro bono opportunities.

"Specifically, the conference will guide paralegals through the process of building and expanding pro bono programs, specifically focusing on recruiting volunteers, keeping them interested and active, documenting volunteer projects, and recognizing volunteers through a reward system.

[snip]

"Sponsored by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), the conference will be held in Denver at Holland & Hart on March 24- 25, 2007. Legal assistants & paralegals can learn how to find both local & national pro bono opportunities.

"It's not too late to sign up! Visit the National Federation of Paralegal Associations' website for more information."

NOTE: Registration is required, but there is no cost for the conference; attendees are responsible only for travel & hotel expenses. The conference is open to NFPA Members ONLY.


"Law-firm employees receive pro bono awards"

Good news for these individuals & for their firm's pro bono program!

"Six lawyers and one paralegal are the first recipients of Charles L. Whistler Pro Bono Awards at Baker & Daniel law firm.

[snip]

"Rhonda Jackson is a paralegal who helped coordinate the Indianapolis Legal Aid Society's annual holiday fund-raising campaign during the last three years."

Noted on Baker & Daniels' press release:

"The firm's pro bono award is named in memory of Charles L. Whistler, a former Baker & Daniels lawyer whose vision, talent and energy helped shape Indianapolis. He represented diverse interests and an array of projects, including Uni-Gov, beautification of downtown, creation of the City Center on the Monument Circle, opening of the Indiana Theater and planning of White River State Park. Whistler died in 1981 at age 55."


"Paralegals in position to improve reputation of legal profession"

Well, yeah! This is indeed a welcome news article:

"Paralegals are critical to improving the reputation of lawyers in the community. The legal profession still suffers from negative stereotypes and some do indeed think we're better off 'at the bottom of the sea,' as the lawyer joke goes. Paralegals can pull lawyers out of this muddy, messy, pool of disrepute by displaying the following qualities.

* Honesty and integrity
* Professionalism
* Giving back through pro bono work and volunteering
* Enthusiasm"

Author Elizabeth Balfour's speech at the annual San Diego Paralegals' Association Luncheon in June 2006 provided criteria for the Distinguished Paralegals Awards.


"Corporations Decry Official's Detainee Screed"

So far, corporations aren't following Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Charles Stimson's suggestion that they boycott firms representing Guantanamo detainees:

"It’s a rare day when law firms get called out for their pro bono work.

"But that’s exactly what happened when Pentagon official Charles “Cully” Stimson rattled off a list of firms representing Guantánamo Bay detainees — such as Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw; Jenner & Block; WilmerHale; and Covington & Burling — predicting that businesses would shun their outside counsel for making the companies foot terrorists’ legal bills.

“'I think, quite honestly, when corporate CEOs see that those firms are representing the very terrorists who hit their bottom line back in 2001, those CEOs are going to make those law firms choose between representing terrorists or representing reputable firms. And I think that is going to have major play in the next few weeks. And we want to watch that play out,' said Stimson in an interview with Federal News Radio Jan. 11.

"And it has played out, but not in quite the way Stimson expected. Instead of Fortune 500 companies such as Microsoft, DaimlerChrysler, and Pfizer dumping their outside counsel in a fit of political protest, firms have largely gotten support from corporate America and from within their partnership ranks."

You can find a list of firms & detainees represented in this same article. Scroll down to table titled "For Detainees, a Load of Legal Firepower." a Load of Legal Firepower


Pentagon official draws criticism

Ah, think the guy who's slammed law firms' representation of detainees should be fired...or disbarred?

"Charles 'Cully' Stimson, deputy assistant secretary for defense for detainee affairs, has sparked a firestorm of anger, from Capitol Hill to America's law schools to even conservative quarters.

"He told a Washington, D.C., Beltway radio station last week that American corporations should boycott leading U.S. law firms that provide pro-bono service at the prison camps in the remote U.S. Navy base in southeast Cuba.

"On Tuesday, Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania condemned Stimson's remarks on the floor of the Senate, where he until recently served as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

'''When lawyers undertake the representation of individuals in unpopular causes, they are entitled to praise, not criticism,' said Specter, echoing an earlier condemnation by the new committee chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

[snip]

"As of Tuesday, nearly 140 law school deans had signed an Internet petition declaring themselves 'appalled' by the remarks of a fellow lawyer.


"Law Departments Join Firms and Nonprofits in Pro Bono Efforts"

Good news! More pro bono activity usually means more work for paralegals:

"In 2000, the Pro Bono Institute formed the Corporate Pro Bono Organization in collaboration with the Association of Corporate Counsel to advocate for and promote corporate pro bono efforts. At that time, 'corporate pro bono was an oxymoron,' said Esther Lardent, president of PBI. 'People looked at you like it was ludicrous to suggest corporate pro bono. It was not widely known and there was no buzz about it,' she said. The political, social and business climate was right for the venture.

"'In the waning days of the Clinton administration, the president had an initiative called Lawyers for One America,' she said. The goal of that directive was both to increase diversity in the legal profession and expand pro bono representation of 'persons and communities of color,' Lardent said. It also happens that both PBI and ACC were receiving inquiries from corporate legal departments nationwide seeking information about initiating pro bono programs. But, she said, 'We didn't have the information or the resources to really offer thoughtful, reliable help.'"


"Paralegal to meet with senior citizens"

Does this seem like the unauthorized practice of law to you?

"Judy Clay, Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma’s senior citizens paralegal, will visit Northern Oklahoma Development Authority from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. Thursday.

"She will meet with Garfield County seniors who want information on legal matters or have legal questions. The session is free. No appointment is necessary.

“'Many seniors and those with hearing impairments prefer to discuss their problems in person, and meeting at NODA makes it easier to review legal documents,' Clay said."

Article link & question for discussion from Celia C. Elwell, Registered Paralegal.

So, tell us what you think...