CBA Record October 2017


the courthouse is not limited by a person’s ability to pay, that rights are protected, and that the law makes good on its promise of justice for all. And, as many who do pro bono will attest, it speaks to the kind of community you want to live in. A community must embrace justice to progress and prosper. This requires that economic and other disabling barriers of access to the legal system be minimized, and if possible, dismantled. Though many CBA members already perform pro bono services, the need in our community far outstrips available volunteers and volunteer hours. There are 45,000 lawyers in Cook County, but less than one percent are legal aid attorneys. This is why pro bono attor- neys are so essential to access to justice. Chicago can feel like two cities with its income inequality, segregated neighbor- hoods, and concentrated gun violence. While pro bono services will not close these gaps, the work of lawyers can and does provide stability, opportunity, and a measure of harmony to our community. Poverty and injustice persist together. It is largely up to lawyers to use the law to dissolve their natural alliance. In the words of Bryan Stevenson, the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative inMontgom- ery, AL, and author of the best seller Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, “The opposite of poverty is not wealth. In too many places, the opposite of poverty is justice.” For the weak and vulnerable, the absence of a pro bono lawyer brings about hardship, inequity, and dissatisfaction with the legal process. So by undertaking pro bono work, we address some of our com- munity’s most troubling woes, helping …veterans move forward with their lives; …the mentally ill get the treatment they need; …abused women seek protection for them- selves and their children; …small businesses and nonprofits bring jobs and economic stability to underserved communities; …community enterprises offer alternatives

to crime and gun violence; …the homeless get back on their feet; …LGBT youth and adults overcome bar- riers; …immigrants and the undocumented navigate an intimidating legal system; …individuals with disabilities assert their rights; …human trafficking survivors overcome legal burdens; and …persons who have had encounters with the law expunge their criminal record. We are fortunate to live in a city of community-minded lawyers. Members

of the CBA are involved in all sorts of activities that elevate our community in innumerable ways. The benefits of pro bono representation go well beyond the attorney and the client; they can be felt in the everyday life of our community. For the sake of the community, for the sake of justice, participate in pro bono.

My commitment to pro bono began from the idiom that we are only as strong as our weakest link. With so many in our community who can’t afford a lawyer, providing pro bono support is critical to Àll an important societal gap. %ut now , volunteer because of the personal impact it has on pro bono clients. ,’ll never forget Robert, whom , represented in his federal criminal appeal. $t our Àrst meeting , gave him our options for appeal, all of which were bleak. Robert, looked up, smiled, and said it didn’t

matter that , had changed his life Must by being willing to stand up for him. He made me realie Mustice was about more than Must winning it was giving people their opportunity to be heard and to have their day in court. ike every one of my pro bono clients, Robert made me a better lawyer and a better person. Pro bono has been a true gift in my life.

Terry Dee CBF President McDermott Will & Emery

The Chicago Bar Association & The Chicago Bar Foundation 2017 Pro Bono Week Oct 23-27


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