Our April 2016 issue features the stories of a small number of Arizona lawyers committed to access to justice through pro bono service.

Our April 2016 issue features the stories of a small number of Arizona lawyers committed to access to justice through pro bono service.

I fear I let a great April event fly by without properly acknowledging it—and the accomplishments of so many great attorneys.

The April issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine featured Access to Justice advocates—attorneys selected by the state’s VLPs (Volunteer Lawyers Programs) for their unstinting commitment to offering pro bono service.

The issue also allowed me to praise some law students from the University of Arizona for their accomplishments in a writing competition I was pleased to judge.

Here, I reprint my column and their photo. And be sure to read about all the A2J Advocates here.

Last month in this space, I wrote about courage and what it requires of us, in our choices and in our commitment to an accurate retelling of history.

Some of you have contacted me with feedback and insight about my words. If you haven’t, please feel free to read the column (http://ow.ly/Z1XfW) and send me your thoughts.

As I said there, it’s great when we can spot courage. But advocating for it and advancing it? That’s the role of leaders.

This month, we’re all about those courageous leaders. Our cover and story beginning on page 18 offer legal exemplars. In a month focused on access to justice, we raise a toast to lawyers who step into the breach to fill unfilled needs.

And in law school, leadership may be nurtured, as well.

As in years past, I’m privileged to report on some leaders-in-training, law students who prevailed in a rigorous writing competition at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. Congratulations to: Jillian Andrews (2L), first place ($2,500 award); Max Bradley (1L), second place ($1,500); Julie Pack (1L), third place ($1,000); and Kayla Bernays (1L), honorable mention ($750).

Richard Grand UA Law School legal writing awards 2016-page0001

As a competition judge, I can tell you that their work was moving and compelling—exactly what I would have expected!

Though I’m always happy to serve as a judge, I have nothing to do with the annual event’s theme or approach, which is developed by talented law school faculty. And so I was delighted to see the selected topic this year—courage.

And that makes sense, as the competition is named for Arizona lawyer Richard Grand, who never shrank from a fight. As the school describes him:

Over the course of his five-decade-long career, Tucson attorney Richard Grand worked tirelessly to achieve justice for his clients. His clients were often ordinary people who had suffered extraordinary injuries. The opposing parties were often large corporations and powerful insurance companies. Mr. Grand never retired, and he handled cases up until the last day of his life. Mr. Grand valued competence, communication, and courage.

Richard died in 2013. He would have been 86 this year, and he was a zealous advocate when advocates were allowed to be zealous. He and his wonderful wife Marcia funded (and continue to fund and inspire) this writing endeavor.

Congratulations to those lawyers and law students, past and present, who aim to close the justice gap.

Pat Gerrich speaks oh-so-briefly at a Morris Institute event in her honor, Nov. 14, 2013, The Vig, Phoenix.

Pat Gerrich speaks oh-so-briefly at a Morris Institute event in her honor, Nov. 14, 2013, The Vig, Phoenix.

Last night, a crowd of folks gathered to honor the achievements of Patricia Gerrich, Director of the Volunteer Lawyers Program for Arizona.

Attendees at the Morris Institute for Justice event at The Vig in downtown Phoenix—those who know Pat, anyway—probably weren’t surprised that she courteously declined the accolades.

Instead, when it was her turn to speak, she reminded everyone about the vital work of the state’s volunteer lawyers and the Morris Institute.

“This event is not to honor me,” Pat began. “It is about the Institute and all of the important work it does.”

“They do work that helps a lot of people get a fair shake and a fair trial. They are all about access to justice.”

Morris Institute reception invitation 11-14-13 crop 1Enjoy your weekend. And if you get a free moment, click here to read about the organization. While you’re there, don’t miss that little button labeled “Donate to MIJ.”

And if you are a lawyer and want to do even more, I’ve posted some detail below (courtesy of attorney Gary Restaino) about a few fantastic legal services organizations in Arizona that could use your assistance.

Morris Institute for Justice LogoTo enroll as a volunteer to provide general legal assistance, contact:

Community Legal Services (Maricopa, Mohave, LaPaz, Yavapai and Yuma Counties)

Southern Arizona Legal Aid (Apache, Cochise, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, Navajo, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz Counties)

DNA–People’s Legal Services (Coconino County, Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe)

Morris Institute reception champagne glasses 11-14-13 crop 2