May 29, 2015 - President’s Message
Give time or money for pro bono efforts

by Jim Creenan

The Bar Foundation’s Pro Bono Center does some tremendous work. Every single day, the ACBF staff facilitates our pro bono programs and provides direct assistance to pro bono clients. Barbara Griffin serves as director of the Pro Bono Center and Elizabeth Gaetani serves as the pro bono coordinator.

Formed in 2005, the Pro Bono Center connects lawyers with those in need of pro bono legal services in our communities.

Many lawyers fulfill the obligation to provide pro bono services by participating in one of the many initiatives around Allegheny County. Our members contribute their time and talents in more than 30 formalized pro bono projects. Many other members provide pro bono informally to various community and charitable organizations.

Rule of Professional Conduct 6.1 mandates that we “render public interest legal service.” Fear not if your calendar has not been filled with volunteer hours. National pro bono experts recommend 50 hours per year. Rule 6.1 also allows us to fulfill the pro bono obligation “by financial support for organizations that provide legal services to persons of limited means.”

For those without the ability to donate the time, I ask that you consider making a financial contribution to the Pro Bono Center to support the substantial coordination and facilitation of pro bono efforts of your fellow members.

The center relies on financial contributions from the legal community to continue its support of the current 34 programs and to meet emerging needs.

At a time when demand for pro bono services is increasing, donations to the center are needed more than ever. Please give as much as you can afford. How much of a financial contribution is needed to meet your Rule 6.1 obligation? I can’t answer that question for you, but if you are familiar with Jennifer Aniston’s character in the modern comedic classic Office Space, then think of your financial contribution to the Pro Bono Center in terms of the requisite number of pieces of flair. Please express yourself accordingly.

Giving online is very easy, and you can do so by visiting www.acba.org/ACBF-Donations.