President's Page, 1120 ALBJ, Vol. 81 No. 6 Pg. 408 (November, 2020)

PositionVol. 81 6 Pg. 408


No. Vol. 81 No. 6 Pg. 408

Alabama Bar Lawyer

November, 2020

A Time for Service

One of my goals as your president is to improve the image of lawyers among the general public by highlighting our hard work and dedication to service. As you probably noticed, your license renewal had an extra box this year, which was to estimate the number of pro bono hours that you donated in 2019. As I write this article in early October, 2,511 attorneys recorded over 125,000 pro bono hours in response. This averages out to over 50 hours of pro bono service per attorney-a number that strengthened my pride even more for our bar and its members. The total number of pro bono hours donated in 2019 will surely increase significantly over the next month as nearly one-third of our members have yet to renew their license.

Recently, Chief Justice Tom Parker gave us an overview of the pro bono service of Alabama's lawyers and how it compares nationally. In his order declaring October Pro Bono Month, Chief Justice Parker explained that, in 2019,1, 380 Alabama pro bono attorneys closed 3,300 cases for low-income Alabamians, and Alabama had more than 45 pro bono cases closed per 10,000 persons living at or below the poverty level. That latter number is almost three times higher than the national average. In fact, Alabama has one of the highest lawyer-enrollment rates in pro bono programs in the country, and we lead the nation in the number of cases closed annually. Chief Justice Parker commended these attorneys for their service and described t heir commitment to public service as "one of the noblest attributes of the legal profession, "especially during the "historic challenges presented by COVID-19." I am also grateful that we took time in October to celebrate Pro Bono Month as we have done in years past.

I titled this article "A Time for Service" because COVID-19 has greatly increased the need for pro bono services in our communities. Many individuals are facing economic challenges, which increase the demand for pro bono services. Individuals who suffered unemployment as a result of the pandemic may be dealing with the risk of eviction or foreclosure. These economic challenges are creating additional pressures at home, increasing the number of cases related to divorce, child custody, and domestic violence. Many of our state's volunteer lawyer programs have dedicated pages on their websites to...

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