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It’s Time to Celebrate Pro Bono!

National Celebration of Pro Bono is October 26-30, 2015

By Michael G. Bergmann, ISBA Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services, Executive Director of the Public Interest Law Initiative 

Coordinated by the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service, Pro Bono Week is intended to inspire even greater pro bono participation by lawyers throughout the nation. This initiative provides an opportunity for legal organizations across the country to collaboratively commemorate the vitally important contributions of America's lawyers and to recruit and train the many additional volunteers required to meet the growing demand. The Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service undertook this initiative to provide a format for showcasing the incredible difference that pro bono lawyers make to our nation, to our system of justice, to our communities and, most of all, to the clients they serve.

An extra emphasis is being placed on the celebration of pro bono this year by 2015-2016 ABA President Paulette Brown, who is calling on lawyers across the nation to participate in a national day of service on Friday, October 30th. This new effort, entitled “And Justice for All: An ABA Day of Service,” aims to expand the reach of the National Celebration of Pro Bono and to encourage attorneys and law students to participate in pro bono service. On October 26th, President Brown will be in Portland, Oregon kicking off Pro Bono Week by participating in a local pro bono event and encouraging participation in the national day of service. For more information, visit www.celebrateprobono.org.

The ISBA has commemorated this national celebration each year by encouraging its members to do pro bono and by recognizing those who meet the call. Last year, the ISBA launched its Pro Bono Partner initiative, through which members commit to: (1) seek out the local pro bono legal services being supplied to individuals or charitable, religious or civic organizations in their community; (2) attend or support a recognition ceremony for those who participate in pro bono services in their community; (3) consider attending training provided to lawyers who provide pro bono services; and (4) commit to joining the efforts to increase access to the legal system. You can learn more about this initiative at www.isba.org/probono/partner.

There will also be significant participation in Pro Bono Week in communities throughout Illinois. In particular, there will be six events held across the state through the Public Interest Law Initiative’s (PILI) Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committees. PILI has launched six committees across the state in the Third, Fifth, Sixth, Tenth, Eleventh and Fourteenth Judicial Circuits. Here are details on the Pro Bono Week events being held in these circuits:

  • The Third Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee will host its annual Celebrate Pro Bono Luncheon on Tuesday, October 27th from noon to 1:00 p.m. in the Leclaire Room at Lewis and Clark Community College. Two pro bono awards will be presented at the luncheon recognizing a longtime pro bono practitioner and a rising pro bono star.
  • The Fifth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee will host its annual Pro Bono Week Celebration dinner on Wednesday, October 28th from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Mattoon Country Club. Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Rita B. Garman will be the special guest speaker and a circuitwide pro bono award will be given.
  • The Sixth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee will hold a CLE & Awards Presentation on Thursday, October 22nd from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 at the Regent Ballroom in Savoy. The program is entitled, “The Quest for Equal Access to Justice and How You Can Help” and the Committee’s Community Legal Services Award will be presented.
  • The Tenth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee will host its annual Celebrate Pro Bono Reception on Monday, October 26th from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.  at the Caterpillar Visitors Center in Peoria. Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas L. Kilbride will be the special guest speaker. Pro bono awards will be presented by the Committee, the Peoria County Bar Association, Prairie State Legal Services, and the Tazewell County Bar Association.
  • The Eleventh Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee will host a CLE program on Tuesday, October 20th from noon to 2:00 p.m. at the Second Presbyterian Church in Bloomington. The program, entitled "The Future of Pro Bono and How You Can Help" will provide an overview of the need for pro bono legal services, efforts to increase pro bono in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit, and the recent statewide efforts to increase access to justice. Small focus group discussions will follow the panel presentation.
  • The Fourteenth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee will host a reception on Thursday, October 29 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Deere & Company to celebrate the lawyers and legal professionals in the Fourteenth Circuit who are signatories to the Committee’s Pro Bono Pledge.

Visit www.pili.org to learn more about any of these events or PILI’s Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committees. Information about the Illinois Pro Bono Pledge, which has been launched in five of these Judicial Circuits and has over 120 signatories statewide, can be found at www.ILProBonoPledge.org.  

The ISBA Delivery of Legal Services Committee is also planning a daylong CLE program in Danville on Friday, October 26th entitled “Pro Bono Practice and Professionalism: The Basics of Estate Planning, the Guardianship Process, and Family Law.” PILI is co-sponsoring this program along with the Illinois Bar Foundation. More information about this program is available at www.isba.org/cle/upcoming.

Posted on October 7, 2015 by Morgan Yingst