STATE BAR ASSOCIATION HELPS KICKOFF INAUGURAL
NATIONAL PRO BONO WEEK
Week-long National Celebration Recognizes the
Outstanding Contributions of Volunteer Attorneys and Encourages More
Lawyers to Continue the Proud Tradition of Pro Bono Service
Noting their proud history and tradition of encouraging attorneys to
do the public good, members of the New York State Bar Association today
commenced the first ever National Pro Bono Week with a kickoff event at
the Court of Appeals in Albany. The event is part of a week-long
national celebration being held October 25-31 honoring attorneys for
their commitment in volunteering to serve those in need.
An initiative established by the American Bar Association (ABA),
National Pro Bono Week aims to recognize the significant contributions
made by the scores of attorneys who already participate in pro bono, to
educate the public and the legal profession about the ever-growing unmet
legal needs of low-income people and others who have been hard hit by
the economic downturn, and to encourage more attorneys to volunteer.
“At times like these, many New Yorkers are facing significant
economic hardships and cannot afford legal counsel,” said State
Bar President Michael E. Getnick (Getnick Livingston Atkinson &
Priore, LLP of Utica and of counsel to Getnick & Getnick of New York
City). “ I am very proud to be part of a profession where so many
feel an obligation to step up and help those who, for instance, may be
in danger of losing a home to foreclosure or who are at risk of losing
vital government benefits. These volunteer attorneys represent the very
best of the legal profession and I want to commend them for their
service and for the good that they do in communities across the
Attending the kickoff event were the Hon. Jonathan Lippman, Chief
Judge of the State of New York; State Bar President-Elect Stephen P.
Younger (Paterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP); Hon. George H. Lowe
(United States District Court for the Northern District of New York),
State Bar President’s Committee on Access to Justice Co-Chair;
David P. Miranda, Albany County Bar Association President; and the Hon.
Gerald Jennings, Mayor of Albany, among other judges and dignitaries. A
recipient of pro bono legal services also spoke to the audience and
relayed her personal story of what it meant to receive the services of a
“Today, we as lawyers are reminded of our higher calling to
ensure that everyone has access to justice,” Younger told the
audience. “Giving back to our communities by providing free legal
services is the Good We Do. It is not just for one week, but all year
long. Given the universal commitment of our profession to do pro bono,
it is fitting that we set aside a week each year not only to celebrate
and honor the Good that We Do, but also to train and mobilize more
“Equal justice for all is one of the bedrock values of our
nation,” said Chief Judge Lippman. “Although we continually
labor toward the establishment of a just society, we still have a long
way to go to ensure every American has truly equal access to justice. I
have every hope and expectation that the New York events planned for
this first National Pro Bono Week will help focus attention on the
pressing legal needs of our fellow New Yorkers -- and showcase the often
overlooked generous and giving side of New York’s legal community.
I am grateful to the New York State Bar Association for their leadership
on this important issue.”
Governor David A. Paterson issued a proclamation declaring October
25-31, 2009 as National Pro Bono Week in New York State. Proclamations
declaring the same in the cities of Albany, Amsterdam, Binghamton,
Buffalo, Cohoes, Geneva, Ithaca, Lake George, Rochester, Saratoga
Springs, Schenectady, Troy and Utica also were unveiled at the event. In
addition, Attorney General Cuomo issued a citation acknowledging the
State Bar’s support for National Pro Bono Week, as well as
recognizing the State Bar’s efforts in shaping the development of
the law and in educating and informing the legal profession and the
Legal services organizations, local bar associations and law schools
will be hosting a variety of events to mark National Pro Bono Week,
including free continuing legal education seminars for attorneys who
volunteer to accept a pro bono case, legal clinics where persons of
limited financial means can receive a free consultation with an attorney
volunteer in certain identified areas of law, as well as various
receptions where attorney volunteers will be recognized.
A sample of events scheduled to commemorate National Pro Bono Week in
New York include:
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Bankruptcy Free Advice Clinic –2-4:30pm - Albany & Rensselaer
Have a question about bankruptcy, debtor/ creditor issues. Ask a lawyer.
Twenty minute consultations will be provided free of charge to the
public. Appointments Required -Space is Limited. To Register: (518)
462-6765. Sponsors: New York State Bar Association, The Legal Project,
Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York, the Albany County Bar
Association, and the 3rd and 4th Judicial District Pro Bono
Unemployment Hearings & Appeals - Pro Bono Seminar
--12:30 -3:30pm - Queens County Bar Association 90-35 148th Street
Jamaica, NY. Sponsors: The Queens County Bar Association/Queens
Volunteer Lawyers' Project. Contact: Mark Weliky at email@example.com.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Mortgage Foreclosure Workshop - 2-4:15pm -Albany County Courthouse Worried about foreclosure? Having trouble paying your
mortgage? Ask a lawyer or speak with a housing counselor. Twenty minute
consultations will be provided free of charge to the public.
Appointments Required - Space is Limited. To Register: (518) 435-1770.
Sponsors: New York State Bar Association, Legal Aid Society of
Northeastern New York, The Legal Project, Albany County Bar Association,
and the 3rd and 4th Judicial District Pro Bono Committees.
The State Bar Association also recently launched its The Good We Do
campaign, which highlights several personal stories of attorneys
providing pro bono service to those in need throughout New York, as well
as the many free programs and clinics offered and coordinated by the
State Bar Association’s Department of Pro Bono Affairs. These
stories are featured on The Good We Do Blog at www.thegoodwedony.org.
Founded in 1876, the 76,000-member New York State Bar
Association is the official statewide organization of lawyers in New
York and the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. The
State Bar’s programs and activities have continuously served the
public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years.
NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATION, ONE ELK STREET, ALBANY, NY 12207 PH: (518) 463-3200 SECURE FX: (518) 463-5993