50 State Bar Members Donate Their Time to Make a Difference
By Alberto Rodriguez
May 8, 2012
Too often lawyers are given a bad rap and it's due, in part, to the few individuals who practice law in a manner that is less than acceptable.
The reality is that now, more than ever, lawyers are maintaining their commitment to the practice of law by of offering professional, ethical, competent services and are dedicating countless numbers of pro bono hours through their private practices and community events.
On Saturday, April 28, 2012, 50 lawyers came together to celebrate Law Day in Arizona by volunteering in the State Bar of Arizona's Law Day Legal-Aid Clinics that were held across the Valley and in Tucson.
Christopher Charles, a real estate attorney in Tempe, dedicated a few hours from his normally busy weekend to volunteer for the west valley legal-aid clinic that was held at the Isaac School District Office. He led the landlord and tenant session.
Charles is an active volunteer who believes that the practice of law is a privilege that comes with both professional and civic responsibility. "Equal access to justice is critical. Thankfully, the State Bar recognizes that," he said.
"I was honored and blessed by the opportunity to participate in the first annual Law Day Legal-Aid Clinics by providing pro bono legal services to our community on real estate-related matters."
With legal-aid clinics at St. Paul Roman Catholic Parish in the north valley, Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church in the central/southern valley, Fiesta Mall in the east valley, and Isaac School District in the west valley, the 30 volunteer lawyers presented sessions in five different practice areas that included bankruptcy, estate planning, family, immigration, and real estate law.
An additional 10 volunteer lawyers participated in the legal-aid clinic held in Tucson.
The State Bar's legal-aid clinics were designed to align with the nationally recognized Law Day that has been celebrated on May 1 since 1961. Providing access to justice was the goal for the first-time event that offered free legal advice to consumers who wouldn't otherwise have an opportunity to sit in front of a lawyer to get the questions answered.
Rachel Johnson, Civil Unit Chief Counsel at the Arizona Attorney General's Office, helped lead the inaugural Law Day Legal-Aid Clinics with the State Bar and a committee of 10 member lawyers.
"We identified the most common legal issues that consumers face and offered a variety of sessions that would address their needs," said Johnson.
Community partners that hosted the clinics and volunteer lawyers who presented the sessions - and offered legal advice - were instrumental in the success of the event. "It took a great deal of planning and support from our community and State Bar members. Without them, we wouldn't have touched as many lives as we did," she added.
The State Bar hopes to grow the Law Day Legal-Aid Clinics in coming years by offering the program throughout the State.
Phoenix Volunteer Lawyers
Tucson Volunteer Lawyers