CBA Record Sept-Oct 2019
PRO BONOWEEK 2019 – CONNECTINGWITH COMMUNITIES
• Writing thank you letters to pro bono attorneys and copying their supervi- sors or managing partners. Activities like these and others go a long way in making pro bono attorneys feel appreciated and reinforcing the importance of their service. In conclusion, judges can and should take a leadership role in actively recruit- ing attorneys to volunteer their services to indigent litigants. By letting attorneys know that judges are aware of the com-
area of law that they are not generally accustomed to while gaining both court- room and trial experience. For the judiciary, the value of pro bono attorneys is immeasurable. Their presence prevents judges from crossing the line from presiding over matters to advising the litigant. Many judges are on the front lines advocating for pro bono attorneys in their courtrooms, but one may wonder how a judge can further support the need for pro bono attorneys. A key authority is Canon 4 of the Illinois Judicial Code of Conduct. Based on Canon 4, it is appropriate for judges to participate in activities that will improve the legal system and administration of justice. Judges need to play a leadership role in emphasizing the importance of participating in pro bono legal services. They can do this in many ways, including: • Sending letters on behalf of legal aid organizations to attorneys and law firms requesting that they participate in pro bono programs; • Making presentations to law firms and organizations emphasizing the need for and actively recruiting pro bono attorneys; • Becoming active members or officers of legal aid and pro bono organiza- tions; • Publicly acknowledging and thanking attorneys who participate in pro bono cases at every opportunity, including in the courtroom; • Accommodating pro bono attorneys by calling their cases first, scheduling special pro bono calls, or allowing pro bono attorneys to participate remotely via telephone or video conference; • Participating in pro bono award cer- emonies; and
mitment they are making by volunteer- ing their time and that it is appreciated, judges will help create an atmosphere where more attorneys will answer the call to pro bono service. Judge Patton is a judge with the Circuit Court of Cook County’s County Divi- sion. Judge Santiago is a judge with the Circuit Court of Cook County’s Munici- pal Division in Rolling Meadows.
As lawyers, we have a moral obligation to give back to the community through pro bono involvement, and in particular by promoting access to justice for those that are not represented in the courts. With limited funding for legal aid, it is even more critical
now that we each do what we can to support access to justice and other pro bono activities. I ask that each of you join me in pro bono service for those who, for whatever reason, cannot help themselves.
Steven A. Weiss CBF President Honigman LLP
The Chicago Bar Association & The Chicago Bar Foundation 2019 Pro Bono Week Oct 21-25 chicagobarfoundation.org/probonoweek
CBA RECORD 25
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