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White House Recognizes Lawyers as National Pro Bono Week Concludes
CHICAGO, Nov. 3, 2009 – The first American Bar Association National Pro Bono Celebration week exceeded expectations and received regognition from the White House. In a letter dated Oct. 30, 2009, President Barack Obama noted, “Pro bono lawyers work tirelessly to break down barriers to opportunity and justice, volunteering countless hours to provide critical legal services to our most vulnerable citizens.”
At final count, the ABA Pro Bono Celebration week, Oct. 25 – 31, saw nearly 600 events across the country, with activities in nearly every state.
Planning for the celebration began in early 2008, when Mark Schickman, chair of the National Pro Bono Celebration Week and former chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service, began sharing his vision for a time to recognize the volunteer legal work that lawyers contribute for the benefit of their communities.
“We are gratified that President Obama recognized the work done by lawyers to help our society’s most vulnerable members. We are also pleased by the response from the legal community,” said Schickman. “Throughout the country, law firms hosted events to recruit more lawyers to take on pro bono projects, state and local bar associations offered legal clinics, and law schools presented discussions on such topics as domestic violence and bankruptcy.”
The legal profession in the United States is among the very few that calls on its members to make a difference in their communities through pro bono work, with the majority of this country’s lawyers reporting spending an average of 40 hours each year providing free legal work for people of limited means.
“The success of this year’s inaugural celebration has provided an outstanding platform as we plan for future celebrations,” said A. Michael Pratt, chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service. “This celebration helps to elevate the work of our committee and to advance the level of pro bono work performed by lawyers all over the country. We thank Mark Schickman for his vision and leadership.”
With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.
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