Bar News - May 13, 2011
Giving Back: Hundreds of Attorneys Drawn to Opportunities within the Bar
Attorney Quinn Colgan helps a soldier prepare for deployment at a Pro-Bono estate planning clinic in January 2011. Pro Bono has once again been asked to coordinate such a clinic on June 5 at a military site in Londonderry, this time for the Navy.
Pro Bono ProgramAs of April 2011, there were 1158 attorneys on the Pro Bono panel; from May of 2010 through April of 2011, Pro Bono attorneys accepted 956 new cases and several hundred additional clients received ongoing services from volunteer attorneys handling extended legal matters from prior years. The estimated value of legal services donated annually by Pro Bono attorneys tops $2 million.
Among these attorneys are those who take cases dealing with family law issues, wills and estates, landlord/tenant issues, bankruptcy and debt collection and consumer matters.
In addition, Pro Bono attorneys help victims of domestic violence through the DOVE Project and others provide tax help through the Low-Income Tax Project. Through these initiatives, volunteer attorneys make significant differences in the lives of those in need.
As well as providing direct legal services, attorneys contribute in other ways, including staffing referral sessions in which they call on their peers to take cases, mentoring newer volunteer attorneys, presenting at Pro Bono training seminars, and/or assisting with case review.
DOVE ProjectBecause of the scarcity of attorneys in the North Country (only 200 of the 3,349 in the state), the DOVE Project began the North Country Outreach Pilot Program in 2009 with a stimulus grant from the ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act). By bringing attorneys from the southern tier of NH to supplement the limited resources in the North Country, DOVE was able to provide clinic services to clients who would otherwise have received no legal assistance in that area of the state.
The more "traditional" DOVE Project, which has provided representation to over 2,500 low-income victims at final restraining order hearings since 1993, saw 154 cases accepted in 2010. With an average case requiring at least eight hours of time attorneys contributed $184,000 just to the DOVE Project alone in 2010. They have contributed $3,000,000 since 1993, when the program began.
Low-Income Taxpayer ProjectThe Low-Income Taxpayer Project (LITP), established in 2003 to help low-income taxpayers by linking them with a tax attorney or other tax professional to help them resolve disputes with the IRS, has grown each year since. In 2010, LITP volunteers contributed over 350 hours of time working on cases and attending LITP training; the Project referred 40 cases to volunteers and provided consultations to many others, including assisting several pro se taxpayers at US Tax Court proceedings.
LRE Volunteers Give Many Hours to NH Students
We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution
Attorney Edith Pacillo, who helped evaluate the Project Citizen mock Legislative Hearing for students from Fairgrounds Middle School in 2010, looks at an entry on the subject of obesity.
During the 2010-2011 school year, the "We the People – the Citizen and the Constitution" program drew participating students from four high schools. For this program, teachers and students work together learning the history and principles of the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The culmination of their learning is evidenced in simulated congressional hearings held at the Legislative Office Building in Concord. At the district hearings, 19 volunteer attorneys acted as judges and 24 attorneys took part at the state hearings.
A Lawyer and Judge in Every School
Seventy attorneys and one judge became teachers for a day on May 6 (Law Day). Attorneys and judges who sign up for Law Day visit schools around the state to make classroom presentations, explaining how the law and the various courts work. They give examples of the judicial process and answer questions from students.
We the People: Project Citizen
"Project Citizen" helps students gain the knowledge and skill required for citizen participation in civic government. Students (working in small groups) provide portfolios, including visual displays (posters). This year the program takes place at the Legislative Office Building on May 20 – and as of press time, 49 students were signed up. Portfolios are judged by volunteer attorneys.