{ November/21/2014 }

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Pro Bono

Need a Pro Bono Attorney?
Contact our Pro Bono Program Coordinator at
eguinan@albanycountybar.com or (518) 445-7691

"Attorney for a Day" Program
On October 22, 2010, the Albany County Bar Association and the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York are teaming up to introduce a new “Attorney For A Day” Project in Albany City Court.   A volunteer attorney will be available at Albany City Court to represent tenants being evicted from their apartments, on a first-come first-served basis.  A representative from the Albany County Bar Association or the Legal Aid Society will also be present to assist with any questions that arise.  The attorney will offer limited representation on the first appearance for qualified tenants.  This is a unique program for our area, allowing the Albany County Bar Association and the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York to serve the numerous clients who are facing eviction.  This program is possible under the auspices of The Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region.

Attorneys interested in participating may contact Eileen Guinan at the ACBA at 518-445-7691 or Kristie Cinelli at Legal Aid at 518-689-6322.  Registration information is also available here or www.lasnny.org.

Attorney Emeritus Program 
The Attorney Emeritus status took effect January 1, 2010, and was created by the Administrative Board of the Courts, consisting of Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman and the four Presiding Justices of the Appellate Divisions.  “Attorney Emeritus” status applies to lawyers, whether retired or active, who are at least 55 years of age, have practiced law for a minimum of 10 years, and are willing to provide at least 30 hours annually of unpaid legal assistance under the auspices of qualified legal services providers, bar associations and court-sponsored volunteer lawyer programs. The ACBA is proud to be part of this program and we hope that retired attorneys will consider providing their expertise to community members who cannot afford legal services.  Detailed information about the program is available online at http://courts.state.ny.us/attorneys/volunteer/emeritus/index.shtml .  Please think about signing up today.



Why I Do Pro Bono Work, And Why You Should Too
By Michael P. Friedman, P.C.
Friedman & Molinsek


It is hard to believe, but the right to practice law is a privilege. Once you “pass the bar”, you have all kinds of magic powers including the ability to sue people on behalf of others, the ability to compel appearances in court, and most importantly, the ability to bring about a civilized, reasoned resolution to people’s differences. But this also comes with some responsibility. Magic powers should not be left solely to those who pay for your services, even if they result in a nice living.

For every paying client, or for every company who employs you, or for every paycheck as a public service attorney, there are hundreds if not thousands of people who are deprived of the ability to resolve disputes in a civilized manner or to have their grievances addressed with the benefit of competent legal counsel. There but for the access to money and resources go every one of us. That is why I do pro bono work, and why you should too. For all the benefits and pleasures of being a lawyer in what the Rules of Professional Conduct call the “noble profession”, the satisfaction doubles if not triples for helping those who would otherwise be deprived of access to our system of resolution of disputes merely because of lack of resources. And remember, it is not pro bono if you work for a client who does not pay.

The new Rules of Professional Conduct continue the “aspirational” goal of providing at least twenty hours of pro bono legal services each year to poor persons. Are you kidding me? Most lawyers I know work in excess of 50 hours a week, and even if you work only 48 weeks per year, that is less than 1% of your time. I do not think that such matters should be “aspirational”, they should be minimal. After all, I “aspire” to play third base for the Toronto Blue Jays some day, but that is not going to happen. Rather, one should consider the significant and continued reductions in public funding for legal services for the poor since the Reagan Administration. Just because it is not a priority for the government should not mean it is not your priority. Just the opposite. The demand for such legal services has not declined. Rather, as life becomes more complex, more and more people fall into the net of those whose access to the Halls of Justice are denied merely because of financial resources.

Nor is it difficult. If you lack a specialty in bankruptcy, matrimonial practice, social services fair hearings or landlord tenant matters, there are a variety of free seminars and mentors available to help you competently provide legal services. If you want to know how to do it, give me a call.

Throughout the years, I have been fortunate to represent hundreds of delightful people whose gratitude and appreciation for my services has given me as much satisfaction as any paying client. I have represented people who do not speak English or Spanish, people who are blind or deaf or confined to a wheelchair. I make house calls without a second thought. I have helped people move on with their lives after thirty years of separation from a spouse, or kept people in a home who were facing foreclosure merely because of an inability to enforce support obligations. Why deprive yourself of these pleasures? Besides, if none of this motivates you, consider this: Performing pro bono legal services will make you better looking. Just look what it has done for me.



November 2014 NEWSLETTER

Albany County Bar Association
112 State Street, Suite 1120, , Albany, NY 12207 } Tel: 518-445-7691 } Fax: 518-445-7511
Contact Us at: acba@albanycountybar.com

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