lawyers on call

Next Tuesday, February 2, the State Bar and 12News are co-sponsoring a lawyer call-in program that may benefit someone you know—or it may even benefit you!

12 News logoThe topic for Lawyers on Call that night will be estate planning, wills and trusts. It runs from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. that evening, and the call-in number is 602-258-1212. More detail is here.

After the event, I’ll share the names of the lawyers who generously gave of their time at the event.

National Pro Bono Celebration Week 2013 logoNational Pro Bono Week occurs next week. And it’s not too late to share your story or event.

The recognition of attorney pro bono runs from October 20 to October 26.

Read more about the Fourth Annual National Pro Bono Celebration here.

In years past, I’ve been pleased to write about local pro bono events. To get an idea of what’s going on next week, click here.

If you focus in on the interactive map, you’ll see that a sum total of two Arizona events are posted. Well, we all know that’s not right. Feel free to add your own event here.

And if you’d like me to spill a little ink about what’s going on in pro bono at your firm, courthouse or law office, write to me at I’ll be happy to get your word out next week (when the ABA is happy to re-share success stories nationally).

There you go. Short and sweet, just like a Monday should be.

National Pro Bono Celebration logo 2012It’s an annual pleasure to share the news about national Pro Bono Week. It is celebrated this year from October 21 to October 27.

In recent years, I’ve written about local pro bono events (for examples, see here, here and here). To get an idea of what’s going on this week, click here.

(Do you want to pass on some pro bono good news from you or your law office? Contact me at and I may get it posted this week.)

When you click the link to the National Pro Bono Celebration, you’ll see that a few of those events are hosted by Community Legal Services. Among other good news, they happen to be celebrating an anniversary this year. We were pleased to share in that celebration by publishing an article on the topic in Arizona Attorney Magazine. You can read it here.

To add to the festivities, this week there will be an event honoring CLS and its six decades of accomplishment. I hope to see you there.

Community Legal Services 60-year anniversary article in Arizona Attorney Magazine

Although this is National Pro Bono Week, you still may be stymied as you consider the widespread need for legal services all over Arizona. Where could you even begin to make a difference?

One suggestion would allow you to create positive change in the lives of youngsters and their families. You could be part of that change by collaborating with the Juvenile Legal Assistance Partnership.

The JLAP, as it’s called, is an initiative at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. It’s housed within the Diane Halle Center for Family Justice Programs. (You can see the list of Center programs here.) The Center is headed by Sarah Buel, a nationally recognized expert on “legal advocacy on behalf of family violence victims.”

This week, I heard more about the program from Soo Chang, an ASU law student, who explained the unfilled need faced by those confronted by juvenile justice issues. That need would be better met by the involvement of more lawyers offering some pro bono hours.

JLAP meets clients at three locations, and they aim for weekly visits—three to four hours of volunteered time meeting with three to four different clients.

With JLAP, the lawyer meets with clients along with up to two law students. According to information from the Program, “Appointments are made by the clients directly to the Juvenile Court at Durango (each appointment is about an hour). The more common issues that we see are: dependency, custody, termination of parental rights, adoption, divorce, and child support. Attorneys normally help fill out paperwork with the clients.”

Sarah Buel

Like many legal assistance groups, JLAP has a core of hard-working volunteer lawyers, but the court receives more calls than the volunteers can handle. Having more attorneys participate would have a profound impact on the lives of youngsters and their families.

What follows is additional information about the program. But you’re busy, so I’ll repeat that most important last line here:

To get involved as a pro bono attorney please contact Erin Biencourt, or (602) 561-9080.

Juvenile Legal Assistance Program

The goal of the Juvenile Legal Assistance Program (JLAP) at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law is to acknowledge the continuous legal conflicts surrounding children and juveniles; to recognize the need for volunteers concerning issues governed by juvenile law; to provide legal services to those involved in various conflicts; and to provide law students opportunities to further their interest for public service and juvenile law alike.

JLAP provides law students and pro bono attorneys to work with the Maricopa County Juvenile Court to provide free legal advice and information clinics regarding matters involving children and their families. Other projects that JLAP participates in include National Adoption Day and Baby Court with Judge Eddward Ballinger.

The clinics are offered several times a month at the Juvenile Court at Durango and the Tempe YMCA. Additionally JLAP partners with Homeward Bound, a transitional housing program for homeless and domestic violence families with children, to provide monthly clinics as well. The matters most commonly seen include guardianship, dependency, termination, and adoption issues. At Homeward Bound, clients frequently present custody, child support, domestic violence, and other family law related issues.

Law students work alongside attorneys to satisfy client inquiries. Students are encouraged to actively engage in counseling clients and conduct legal research regarding juvenile law matters. All students have Westlaw and Lexis access and all sites have computer access. Attorneys provide clients with advice, information, and ideas. They do not advocate for or represent clients in court and they do not prepare documents for the clients, although they often explain how the documents are to be filled out.

Attorney volunteers are required to sign up with the Volunteer Lawyers Program, as they provide malpractice coverage. JLAP provides training twice a year for our new volunteers. Attorneys with juvenile law exposure may be able to waive this requirement by doing on-site training with Peggy Tinsley or by a showing of sufficient juvenile and/or family law experience.

To refer potential clients to JLAP, have them call (602) 506-4533 (West Valley clients) or (602) 506-2544 (East Valley clients). When calling they should ask to schedule a JLAP appointment.

To get involved as a pro bono attorney please contact Erin Biencourt, or (602) 561-9080.

We are all accustomed to asking for what we want. But sometimes, we get more than we asked for.

That was the case today, when I opened my email and read a note by an Arizona lawyer.

Dan Riley practices at Curry, Pearson & Wooten in Phoenix. His note to me was in response to a call I made for pro bono stories, all in recognition of the National Pro Bono Celebration.

(Connections with the firm go deeper than that: In Arizona Attorney Magazine, we once published a story about a firm partner, Michael Pearson, who is not only a lawyer but also an air-traffic controller. And the CPW law offices are about half a block from my house, so I get to see their attractive vintage building every day.)

I received the essay in the morning, but many tasks kept me from reading it until the day was nearly complete. But when I did, I saw this was something out of the ordinary.

Dan Riley

Almost every lawyer I’ve ever worked with has contributed some of her or his time for free. And that is often the story one reads, about an attorney’s experience giving back. It’s a great story, one that never disappoints.

More rare is the story of what led the lawyer down a path to a point where they decided to repay goodwill that had been extended to them. Such a story is not better than the tale of the pro bono activity itself, but it is more revealing of the person behind the act.

That personal story is what Dan shared. His story opens:

“October 23-29 is National Pro Bono Week, and the Bar Association has asked attorneys to share their pro bono experiences. Rather than donate yet another ‘war story,’ I’ve decided to explain why I do pro bono work. I donate legal services, because I know what it’s like to not have a voice.”

That quiet opening ends with the telling word “voice,” and you should read Dan’s essay to see how well chosen the word is. Click here to read his story.

Dan Riley, age 11, speaking at his fourth-grade play

You can read more about Dan and his law practice here.

I’d welcome your own tale in regard to pro bono, whether it’s about your experience of representation or the effect it had on your life and practice.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about an opportunity to provide some of your time and experience to juvenile clients and their families—both of whom may need your help to locate their voice in the justice system.

National Pro Bono Week is coming up. To help you understand more about what that means, here is some of my Editor’s Letter from the October Arizona Attorney Magazine.

Last year, we committed to telling a number of pro bono stories online in October’s National Pro Bono Week. And we did. This year, we plan to do the same—and we may be able to tell your story.

The National Celebration of Pro Bono is a nationwide effort in which bloggers participate in the conversation about pro bono legal services.

This year’s focus aims to “frame a new way of thinking about and delivering pro bono services”:

  • What has worked?
  • What are the very best practices?
  • What is the experience of those working on this issue?
  • What changes are needed and how might they be accomplished?
  • What are the most effective collaborations and partnerships?
  • How can the private and public interest bars work together most effectively to provide access to justice for all?

To add to the conversation’s vibrancy, the folks at the American Bar Association are posting new questions twice a week, on Mondays and Wednesdays. They invite people to read and comment; questions and a schedule are posted here.

To give you a nudge, here is the question they posted today for today: “What systemic issues do you see in the delivery of legal services and equal access to justice? How does pro bono fit (or not) into the big picture?”

Organizers invite all of us to participate early and often—and to urge colleagues to join in too.

Here is the page that includes all the questions and the evolving responses (housed in WordPress).

Besides participating in the national Q&A, perhaps you, your firm or your employer have a unique pro bono story to tell. If you do, contact me at Maybe we can get your word out.

And if you write a law blog and want to participate, see the celebration website for more information.

As the organizers describe it, “Pro Bono Week is a strategic tool that can be useful in advancing pro bono, resulting in concrete legal services and programs for many currently denied access to justice. Your participation is a vital part of promoting awareness and participation.”

See you online.