DAYL President’s Page

Pro Bono Publico:
3 Ways to Help This Month

June 2018

The term “pro bono” comes from “pro bono publico,” the Latin term meaning “for the public good.” According to ABA Model Rule 6.1, as lawyers we have “a professional responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay.”[1] The need for pro bono service in our community is great, and depending on whether you have time or financial resources to give, there’s something we can all do in June to help.

1. Attend the DAYL Wine Tasting

Perhaps the easiest thing you can do to support pro bono service this month is to purchase a ticket to or sponsor the DAYL Wine Tasting. The DAYL Wine Tasting will be held on June 21 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Sammons Center for the Arts, and will feature Texas wines. At the event, Allie Smith, with Baker Botts, LLP, will be presented with the DAYL Young Lawyers Pro Bono Service Award.

All proceeds from the DAYL Wine Tasting go to the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program, so just by attending you are supporting pro bono service. To purchase tickets, please visit: https://dayl-wine-tasting.eventbrite.com. Also, this year the DAYL Equal Access to Justice Committee (charged with planning the DAYL Wine Tasting) has added a new sponsorship level that makes sponsoring the event more affordable for lawyers of all ages. This new Friend Level Sponsorship is available for $100 and includes admission to the event and recognition on marketing materials. I hope you will join me as a Friend Level Sponsor. To do so, please contact Cherie Harris at cherieh@dayl.com.

2. Volunteer at DBA LegalLine or at the Next Ask-A-Lawyer Clinic

Another thing you can do to support pro bono service in June is to volunteer at the Dallas Bar Association’s LegalLine. LegalLine is an anonymous telephone hotline through which volunteer attorneys answer legal questions for callers at no charge. It is held on the 2nd and 3rd Wednesday of each month from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. This month it will be held on June 13th and June 20th. In the past, I have been hesitant to volunteer because I did not think my practice areas (business, construction, and real estate litigation) would make me a helpful volunteer, but I could not have been more wrong. Earlier this year when the DAYL Ask-A-Lawyer Committee volunteered at LegalLine, I joined and was surprised by how many calls I was able to field. The organizers also have binders available to help with calls that may involve issues outside of your practice area(s), and more importantly, to direct callers to an organization in Dallas (like the Dallas Attorney Volunteer Program) that may be able to offer more help. To volunteer, or for more information, contact Shawna Bush at sbush@dallasbar.org.

DAYL’s Ask-A-Lawyer Committee also periodically hosts Ask-A-Lawyer Clinics at libraries around the DFW metroplex to help answer legal questions for free. Like LegalLine, the Ask-A-Lawyer Clinics are not meant to provide legal representation; only to provide basic answers to general legal questions and possibly referrals to organizations or agencies that may be of further assistance. Save the date for the next Ask-A-Lawyer Clinic, which is tentatively scheduled for August 25. Look for more information in The Weekly Brief in the coming weeks.

3. Take a Pro Bono Case

Taking a pro bono case can be a very rewarding experience. I recently handled a pro bono divorce for a client who had been separated from her spouse for over a decade, but could not afford to obtain a divorce. Helping her finalize her divorce to allow her to finally marry the love of her life was one of the most fulfilling attorney-client experiences I have had so far this year. It definitely made me understand why you often hear pro bono service described as “billable hours for the soul.”

If you have not yet taken on a pro bono case in your legal career, you can find support through the DAYL Pro Bono Partners Program. Pro Bono Partners is designed to make it easier for young lawyers to do pro bono service by matching you with an agency, providing a subject area mentor that you can email or call to help you through the representation, and even pairing you with a paralegal to help on the case, if needed. Pro Bono Partners also recognizes young lawyers who perform at least 12 pro bono hours each year. To participate, pledge to perform at least 12 pro bono hours in 2018 by signing up here: https://goo.gl/iYSQBV. By signing up, you are not committing to take on a pro bono case right this moment or even this month. But signing up will allow Pro Bono Partners to help you get the information you need to take on a pro bono case sometime this year. If you have questions about Pro Bono Partners, you can contact the Committee via email at DallasProBonoPartners@gmail.com.

No matter what your schedule and budget will permit, I hope you will find a way to support pro bono service this month!

Good, Better, Best,
Jennifer Ryback

 

[1] Read the full text of ABA Model Rule 6.1 here: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/probono_public_service/policy/aba_model_rule_6_1.html.