Volunteer Corner: Ease Into Pro Bono Work During Pro Bono Week 2016 ~ By Lauren Dickey and Matt Pierce

Despite our best intentions, too many of us either haven’t started doing pro bono work or just don’t do as much of it as we’d like. This October 17–21, the DBA Access to Justice Committee offers you several chances to ease into pro bono work in honor of Pro Bono Week 2016.

We all know the reasons for doing pro bono work. The law changes people’s lives, yet many cannot afford legal services or navigate the courts themselves. Our expertise allows us the unique opportunity to benefit those in need. In turn, doing pro bono work improves our skills, elevates the profession and strengthens a central pillar of modern society: the Rule of Law.

So, if doing pro bono work is so great, why don’t we do more of it? Some of us feel that we can’t spare the time, particularly in view of the specter of the “simple” case that swells unexpectedly. Others who are new to the profession may fear the ethical risks of venturing into an unfamiliar type of practice.

Pro Bono Week 2016 is intended to address these concerns and enable you to fulfill your pro bono aspirations. For a low-commitment introduction to legal volunteering, join us at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, October 18 at Mi Casa Resource Center for a combined Introduction to Legal Night and CLE on the ethics of Legal Night volunteering. Legal Night is an open house where volunteer attorneys provide free legal and referral information on a variety of subjects to people who cannot afford to hire a lawyer. The introduction will first cover what goes on at Legal Night. Then, a representative from Attorney Regulation Counsel will address ethical issues* relevant to Legal Night volunteers — for example, what is the line between legal “information” and legal “advice”? Do you need to worry about your competency to provide information in areas you don’t practice? Legal Night will follow at 5:30 p.m., and this CLE will be free to anyone who stays on to volunteer. RSVP to lunches@cobar.org.

If you’d like to learn how to offer free or low-cost legal help without committing to full-scope legal representation, join us for another ethics CLE**: the Unbundling Roadshow. “Unbundled” legal services allow lawyers to serve modest-means clients with more limited services than traditional full-scope representation, thus removing cost and time barriers for providing legal advice to those in need. The Unbundling Roadshow, presented by Judge Adam Espinosa and Danae Woody, will address the practical and ethical considerations involved in integrating unbundled legal services into your practice and will be held at noon at the Colorado Bar Association’s offices on Wednesday, October 19. Lunch will be provided. RSVP to lunches@cobar.org.

Finally, help us kick things off the week before Pro Bono Week 2016 with the Denver Bar Association’s 125th anniversary party on Thursday, October 13. You’ll learn about the DBA’s rich history of pro bono work and receive information on how to get involved.

Regardless of your experience level, the DBA Access to Justice Committee encourages you to learn about and get involved in all of the Pro Bono Week events! D

* The Committee is applying for one ethics credit for this program.
** This program has been approved for one ethics credit.
The Denver Access to Justice Committee is made up of Denver-area lawyers committed to helping underrepresented individuals secure legal information, advice and representation. It is the local chapter of the statewide Access to Justice Commission and meets monthly at the bar association. For more information, contact co-chairs Noah Patterson (pattersonnoah@hotmail.com) and Shelly Dill (shellrafiki@hotmail.com).

Lauren-Dickey-pic-for-DocketLauren Dickey came to Colorado four years ago for a clerkship and loved it so much that she never left. She is now an Assistant Attorney General in the Consumer Protection Section of the Colorado Attorney General’s Office and a member of the Denver Access to Justice Committee. She can be reached at lauren.dickey@coag.gov.

matt-pierce-3After 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 and an active member of the Denver Access to Justice Committee. Matt and his wife Liz live in Littleton with their two children, Jack (2) and Eleanor (1). He can be reached at william.pierce@judicial.state.co.us.