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Bar News - October 16, 2009

Celebrate Pro Bono Week Oct. 25-31

Governor John Lynch will be signing a proclamation designating October 25-31, 2009 as the first Pro Bono Week Celebration in NH as part of a national effort to recognize the enormous contributions of time and talent made by lawyers throughout the year. The recognition also aims to encourage even greater participation by attorneys and their firms in providing pro bono services.

NH’s Pro Bono Referral Program was one of the first programs launched on a statewide basis and last year celebrated its 30th anniversary. The Bar’s website features an interactive map, created last year, that lists, by county, the thousands of NH attorneys who have participated in the Pro Bono program since its inception.

The program continues strongly today, despite the recession which has dented grant funding and also further propels demand for its services. During the last fiscal year, Pro Bono’s activities—from legal information and oversight of ongoing cases to new case referrals--benefited more than 6, 700 adults and children in a wide variety of legal matters. The value of legal services contributed by Bar members in that year, leveraged through their participation in the Pro Bono Referral program, surpasses $1.8 million annually, said Virginia A. Martin, NHBA Associate Executive Director for Legal Services.

Visit the Bar’s webpage for information about the diverse services NH attorneys provide with the assistance of the Pro Bono program, which provides support and training to attorneys in representing low-income people in civil legal matters involving critical needs. For example, the Pro Bono program now includes the Low-Income Taxpayer Project, a Home Rescue Team for foreclosure-prevention efforts, the Domestic Violence Emergency Project (DOVE), a senior citizen legal needs project, as well as the traditional Pro Bono Referral program of recruitment, training and referral of attorneys to represent clients in every county in the state.

The Governor’s proclamation declares:

"WHEREAS, Access to civil legal services is a critical need for New Hampshire residents with incomes too low to afford legal counsel; and

WHEREAS, Members of the New Hampshire Bar Association have a long and proud history of service to vulnerable and needy families and individuals in every county of the Granite State; and

WHEREAS, New Hampshire attorneys are making a lasting difference by donating thousands of hours of pro bono legal services annually through the NH Bar Association’s Pro Bono Referral Program, through other non-profits serving the poor and on their own; and

WHEREAS, the attorneys of the New Hampshire Bar Association substantially enhance the rule of law by representing the poor and vulnerable in resolving fundamental legal issues, which strengthens our communities and our democratic way of life; and

WHEREAS, The American Bar Association has designated October 25-31, 2009 as the first National Pro Bono Week Celebration to recognize the enormous contributions of time and talent made by lawyers throughout the year and to encourage even greater participation in providing pro bono services;

NOW, Therefore, Honorable John H. Lynch, Governor of the State of New Hampshire, do hereby proclaim October 25-31, 2009 to be National Pro Bono Week.

If you are in doubt about the status of any meeting, please call the Bar Center at 603-224-6942 before you head out.

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