For the Public Good, 1021 COBJ, Vol. 50, No. 9 Pg. 4

PositionVol. 50, 9 [Page 4]

50 Colo.Law. 4

For the Public Good

No. Vol. 50, No. 9 [Page 4]

Colorado Lawyer

October, 2021



Imagine yourself in crisis—a victim of domestic violence whose physical injuries pale in comparison to the psychological injuries from years of mental abuse, an immigrant facing imminent deportation, an evictee without shelter, or a party to divorce who might lose the right to see your children. In each of these situations you're already in the justice system. You need help navigating the complexities of your case, but you don't have money for your daily needs, let alone a lawyer. Imagine yourself scared, overwhelmed, and desperate for help.

As lawyers, we often fail to recognize how intimidating the judicial system is for most litigants, and especially pro se parties. This can lead us to underestimate how giving a few hours of our time or helping fund pro bono can change someone's life. Every minute we dedicate to service matters. Every dollar we donate counts.

Each pro bono client has a unique story, but the circumstances of one Colorado Springs woman demonstrate the challenges faced by countless others. The woman was a noncitizen resident of modest means, spoke limited English, and faced a complicated and messy divorce. She turned to the Justice Center in Colorado Springs for guidance, and an attorney volunteered his time to help her through the process. Because she had legal representation, her voice was heard, and she was successful in accomplishing her goals. After the case was finalized, she wrote to the attorney: "[Y]ou gave me back my life, hope, the will to live to fight, and returned my faith in justice."

The Gift of Service

While the legal help that we give may be invaluable to the client, it brings value to us as well. The satisfaction of helping someone in need can be reward enough. But working with clients who we might never meet during our regular practices also makes us better lawyers and better human beings.

Before joining the bench, Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gabriel volunteered for the Rocky Mountain Children's Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Tenth Circuit (prisoner petitions), and he represented an Oklahoma death row inmate for nine years through the ABA Capital Representation project. One case stood out for him:

The Rocky Mountain Children's Law Center asked me if I would agree to serve as the pro...

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