Bar News - March 19, 2014
President's Perspective: Take the ‘Justice for All Challenge’
By: Jaye Rancourt
Each year, members of the New Hampshire Bar Association dedicate countless hours to serving the poor and disadvantaged residents of New Hampshire. They take pro bono cases, either through the NHBA Pro Bono Program or on their own; they volunteer on boards, including those that govern NH Legal Assistance and the Legal Advice and Referral Center. And they volunteer their legal services to nonprofit organizations as board members or consultants.
To ensure that all of this good work does not go unnoticed or unrecognized, the New Hampshire Bar Association is taking steps to encourage attorneys to voluntarily document pro bono work so that the public and the legal community can see and better understand the spirit of volunteerism that is alive and well among members of the New Hampshire bar.
The NH Bar Association Justice for All Challenge is a celebration of individual attorneys and law firms that commit to complete 30 hours of pro bono service, per attorney, between March 2014 and March 2015.
Attorneys and/or law firms need only visit the NHBA website within the next few weeks to commit to accepting the Justice for All Challenge. Then, over the next year, the attorney or law firm visits the website again to report that they have performed the 30 hours of service necessary to complete the challenge. The sign-up and reporting is easy and takes only a few minutes.
By accepting the Justice for All Challenge, you are not only committing to assist citizens in New Hampshire who otherwise might not have access to the justice system, but also providing information to the Bar Association that we can use to trumpet the continued good work of attorneys here.
We know that many of you already perform pro bono service in one form or another. Unfortunately, there is no clearinghouse to collect data on those activities. For example, if you take a case on a pro bono basis because an individual contacts your office with a desperate situation, you are preforming an invaluable service that may never be recognized outside of your office or outside the attorney/client relationship. We want to capture these examples and spread the word about the countless hours of volunteer service that are performed each year in in the Granite State by our members.
Your participation in the Justice for All Challenge is completely voluntary. However, it is my hope that we will have your commitment to take on and meet this challenge. You make a difference in the lives of citizens of New Hampshire every time you volunteer your time to serve the ends of justice.
When retired United States Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell Jr. was president of the American Bar Association, he said: “Equal justice under law is not merely a caption on the façade of the Supreme Court building, it is perhaps the most inspiring ideal of our society. It is one of the ends for which our entire legal system exists… It is fundamental that justice should be the same, in substance and availability, without regard to economic status.”
Let’s celebrate you and the work you do! Let’s make 2014 the year we tell the story about the good work being performed by all of the attorneys in the state of New Hampshire. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions about the Justice for All Challenge or how you or your firm can participate.