By Kathy Para, Pro Bono Committee Chair
I am dedicating this, my final, article to you because you have stepped up over and over again to assist with your legal expertise thousands of people in need.
For the past 10 years, it has been my honor and joy to see you making a positive difference in our community. You have said “yes” to veterans, seniors, single parents, immigrants, people with disabilities, caregivers, children, people starting over and other people who need someone on their side.
You have been advocates, champions, listeners, warriors and field-levelers.
Hundreds of attorneys have volunteered for Ask-A-Lawyer, estate planning intake night, the Veterans Legal Collaborative, advance directives night, Guardian Advocacy Pro Bono Project, Name Change Pro Bono Project, Citizenship Day, Family Law Group information clinics, Lawyers in Libraries, pro se bankruptcy assistance clinic, seal/expunge and civil rights restoration, Eviction Defense Self Help Project, intake night at the City Rescue Mission and Missing Link.
You have taken cases referred from federal, state and county judges; cases from Guardian Ad Litem, Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, the Northeast Florida Medical Legal Partnership and Three Rivers Legal Services; and cases that you identify in your offices, serving clients who seek help but can’t afford to pay you.
You have mentored other pro bono attorneys, reviewed cases, created documents, presented webinars, provided consultations and shared ideas.
You live your oath with intention and commitment: “I will never reject, from any consideration personal to myself, the cause of the defenseless or oppressed . . .”
Now, realize the ripple effect in our community as a result of your efforts.
Imagine the senior who is no longer facing the debt collector, the parent whose child will get the services she or he needs, the family whose eviction was avoided, the veteran whose benefits are restored, the granddaughter who has clear title to the family homestead, the truck driver whose license is reinstated.
Left unresolved, these issues can crush a family or individual. With these issues resolved, seniors enjoy life, children can thrive in school and at home, incomes are secured and families are stabilized.
As I retire, I’m grateful for the relationships with you that have meant so much to me.
I’m also pleased that Missy Davenport is taking over as the chair of the JBA Pro Bono Committee and as director of pro bono for Jacksonville Area Legal Aid.
All of you comprise an invincible team and the future is bright for pro bono efforts in the 4th Circuit.
Thank you for sharing your expertise with generosity, compassion, determination, energy and creativity.
Thank you for saying, “yes.”
Attorneys interested in opportunities for pro bono involvement in Clay, Duval and Nassau counties are encouraged to contact Missy Davenport at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit floridaprobonomatters.org to view cases awaiting placement.