The last week of October is recognized nationally as Celebrate Pro Bono Week. It is an annual opportunity to shine a spotlight on the amazing pro bono work by lawyers, paralegals, and law students across the country. The national theme for this year’s celebration is “Law in Everyday Life.”
The Pro Bono Department at 603 Legal Aid had several big wins that were cause for celebration during Pro Bono Week 2022.
First, we celebrated Shaheen & Gordon for their commitment to take on 20 pro bono cases per year, beginning in 2023. Thanks to the leadership of Lyndsay Robinson, Tracey Goyette Cote, and Tim
McLaughlin, Shaheen & Gordon’s commitment will enable the Pro Bono Department to serve more individuals seeking representation on a wide array of civil legal service needs.
Second, the Pro Bono Department has placed 221 cases with 145 different pro bono attorneys to date. This is 60 more cases placed and 85 more attorneys who have volunteered than in the same period in 2021. We are excited to see these numbers grow as recruitment and reengagement of pro bono attorneys continues to increase.
Third, pro bono has seen unparalleled support from the New Hampshire Supreme Court and the New Hampshire Bar Association this year. The Bar Association agreed to ask attorneys at license renewal whether they would like to “check the box to volunteer” as a pro bono attorney, and we had 56 attorneys elect to do so. Further, the New Hampshire Supreme Court and the Bar Association have agreed to a rule change regarding Limited Active Status. Inactive or retired attorneys who still want to provide free legal services no longer need to submit CLE credits or Trust Account Certificates to volunteer through 603 Legal Aid to do pro bono work. Finally, the Court has been eager to support and encourage pro bono work, and every justice has been vocal in their efforts to recruit and encourage attorneys to volunteer through 603 Legal Aid.
We celebrated these wins and built on this momentum during Celebrate Pro Bono Week with a Pro Bono Referral Marathon held in collaboration with the University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law. Students at the law school reached out to New Hampshire Bar members who previously indicated they will take pro bono cases with cases that need pro bono representation. 603 Legal Aid has clients waiting for a pro bono attorney across the full spectrum of legal issues and scattered geographically throughout the state.
As we try to close the access to justice gap in New Hampshire, we need members of the Bar to step up and volunteer their time. We have training, support, and mentors available for new attorneys or attorneys seeking to take cases outside their standard practice area. Volunteer opportunities are available through clinics and unbundled services for attorneys who do not want to commit to taking on a full-representation case. Any time you can give to help a client will be time well spent and most welcome.
Contact Emma M. Sisti, 603 Legal Aid Pro Bono Department Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-584-4145 for more information on becoming a pro bono attorney.