Pro Bono Week, which runs from October 22–28, feels a little more urgent this year. With legal aid on the national chopping block, Colorado needs a boost in pro bono work now more than ever. The good news is that you can make a positive difference.
The threat to legal aid is real and imminent. Colorado Legal Services (CLS) relies on the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) for approximately 40 percent of its funding. While the new budget has yet to be finalized, the House Appropriations Committee has approved a 25 percent cut to LSC. The administration’s proposed budget would cut LSC funding entirely. This threat looms larger given that, even at current funding levels, CLS is forced to turn away about half of those who seek its aid.
This is where you come in. Lawyers like you can help Coloradans in need when CLS can’t. The level of need is significant, and lawyers are the only ones equipped to fill it. Plus, filling the current demand for low-cost or free legal services is just the short-term benefit; pro bono work also elevates the public’s perception of the profession and strengthens the rule of law by increasing access to justice for all.
Those in the Denver area looking for a pro bono opportunity should consider Metro Volunteer Lawyers (MVL). In conjunction with CLS, MVL provides pro bono legal services to the Denver-metro indigent population. MVL works with attorneys who donate their time and expertise to provide direct representation, as well as unbundled services through various programs and clinics. Beyond fulfilling your desire to help others, MVL provides opportunities for networking, learning and experience. MVL clinics are predominantly in the area of family law but also assist in most civil areas of law. Visit denbar.org/mvl and check out MVL’s Facebook page to learn more. You can choose to take on an entire case with help from mentors or just give a few hours a month at a local clinic.
We’ll introduce you to volunteering for MVL at a free CLE at Faegre Baker Daniels from 9 a.m. until noon on October 23. We’ll even provide a light breakfast and an ethics credit. You’ll get an overview of what MVL volunteers do, a quick primer on family law and some ethical considerations in pro bono family-law work. You’ll also learn how pro bono work can help your career.
The DBA and MVL are offering this special event for Pro Bono Week, and Faegre Baker Daniels has graciously offered to host it. If you’re interested in attending, please register on the CBA’s calendar at cobar.org/calendar. Just click on October 23, and you’ll see the event listed.
The DBA Access to Justice Committee thanks you for any step up in pro bono work that you’re able to make. D
After a previous career as a computer programmer in South Carolina, Matt Pierce came to Colorado for law school at DU. He is now a law clerk for Justice William W. Hood III on the Colorado Supreme Court and a member of the Denver Access to Justice Committee. Matt and his wife, Liz, live in Littleton with their two children, Jack (3) and Eleanor (2). He can be reached at email@example.com.