SBM: Calling all pro bono volunteers

For the eighth straight year, the State Bar of Michigan Pro Bono Initiative (PBI), in conjunction with the ABA’s Pro Bono Week celebration, has designated October as Pro Bono Month.

The ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service first launched Pro Bono Week in 2005 due to the ever increasing need for pro bono services. The Committee provides information, planning guides, resources, and consultation services through their website.

Pro Bono Month highlights the need for pro bono services, especially the significant unmet need for legal services. Michigan’s dire economy has increased the need for legal help even more. For many years, the state’s poverty population eligible for free legal aid has continued to dramatically increase. It also remains among the states with the highest number of foreclosures and children living in poverty. In Michigan, there are more than three million low-income residents who qualify for legal aid.

Under the SBM’s Voluntary Pro Bono Standard, each lawyer is asked to take three cases, donate thirty hours, or contribute $300 ($500 for those attorneys whose income allows) to support legal aid through the Access to Justice Fund (ATJ).

Last year, Michigan hosted more than 60 pro bono events throughout the state during Pro Bono Month. Many attorneys heard the call for pro bono legal services and gave back through their work in legal clinics, trainings, pro bono fairs, pro bono pledges, award ceremonies, and other exciting events to promote legal aid for the poor.

Pro Bono Month continues to grow and gain momentum, and 2016 is no exception. If you have not already done so, please consider contributing to the need for pro bono this upcoming October and throughout the year. Also, if you have any planned events, please notify PBI so we can update our calendar.

Keep visiting www.michbar.org/probono for updates that will be posted as they are available.  And make sure you register your Pro Bono Month event with the State Bar.  The State Bar will publicize your event on its Pro Bono Month website. 

Published August 10, 2016

—Eisha Vatsal, Robert Mathis, and Lynn Ingram contributed to this story.

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