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Bar News - July 15, 2011

Catholic Lawyers Guild Refers 100 Pro Bono Cases


Joceline Champagne, coordinator for the Low-Income Taxpayer Project of the NH Pro Bono Referral Program, presents a certificate of appreciation to Charles Holoubek, outgoing president of the Catholic Lawyers Guild, for his work organizing recent Pro Bono Referral Marathons.
Since the NHBA Pro Bono Referral Program began conducting referral marathons, during which members make phone calls to potential Pro Bono volunteers, few have resulted in the success that the Catholic Lawyers Guild of New Hampshire has produced.

Attorneys participating in four separate marathons sponsored by the group in the past two years (two dates each in 2010 and 2011) have referred nearly 100 cases to Pro Bono volunteers. The group isn’t resting there: two more dates are set for 2011 and three are scheduled so far in 2012.

"As Roman Catholics, we’re called to recognize the inherent dignity in each human being," said incoming Guild President Courtney Eschbach. "Part of recognizing that dignity is serving one another, especially those who need help the most. Pro bono work fits neatly into that calling."

Eschbach says that the Pro Bono Marathons give a diverse group of attorneys the opportunity to work together for a common goal.

"The marathons work perfectly as new attorneys and old, litigators, corporate attorneys and government attorneys, solo practitioners and members of large firms can all participate," she said. "There isn’t a need for specialized knowledge of family law or bankruptcy. If you can work a telephone, you can participate."

The Catholic Lawyers Guild, which has a membership of about 200 attorneys, was started in 2001 by Catholic attorneys and judges to coordinate the annual Red Massin Manchester, which is now followed by a reception including presentation of the Guild’s St. Thomas More Award. The Pro Bono Referral Marathons were the first major project of the Guild, says Charles Holoubek, outgoing president of the Guild. He says that the results are very encouraging.

"I am consistently amazed at the incredible generosity of the members of the NH Bar Association, who accept so many Pro Bono cases at a time when all of us have to tighten our belts," said Holoubek. "After serving on four marathons, I can count on one hand the number of people who don’t accept pro bono cases. Most of those who declined to take one did so because they already had one or more active pro bono cases."

The Guild coordinates its marathons with events on the Catholic liturgical calendar, which Holoubek says is a way for the members to express their faith within the context of the work that they do.

"Participating in a marathon can be a humbling experience – personally calling up scores of your peers and asking for their help is hard for many of us," he said, "but such an act also invites humility and helps us remember our proper place in the grand scheme of things. We are not first."

Holoubek says the challenge of calling peers to take cases shouldn’t be a stumbling block. "Just give it a try. It is a great experience and Carolann and the staff at Pro Bono have a turn-key operation going on. It’s incredibly easy. You just walk in, sit down, and dial."

If you’re interested in participating in one of the Catholic Lawyers Guild marathons, please contact Charles Holoubek.

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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