pro bono publico (adverb & adjective): “for the public good”; denoting work undertaken for the public good without charge, especially legal work for a client with a low income.
Pro bono work can be a mutually beneficial exchange between an attorney and a person in need of legal help who, perhaps, cannot afford it. It can present opportunities for young lawyers to bolster their experience and add to their resumes; ideally helping them to become better lawyers in the long-run. Law firms can use pro bono work to offer practice to their less experienced associates. Or, it can simply be a way for a person in the legal profession to give back to her or his community.
A Chicago lawyer represents ex-offenders as she believes that crime in her city is on the rise, in part, due to the fact that those with a past criminal record are deliberately being kept out of the job market. She believes that if there are no opportunities available to these people, desperation may find them walking back through the revolving door of a life of crime. She works to help expunge records and file the sometimes daunting paperwork with the courts. This lawyer does this work pro bono, for free.
An advocacy program in New York assisted a young girl on the autism spectrum to find an appropriate and accepting school for her needs. She was initially placed in a school that only allowed her to attend classes for two hours each day and required her mother to remain in the building while the girl was there. The school refused to allow her to attend school for the entire day and eventually placed her in a class designed for children with more severe autism than what this young lady had. This program assisted the family in finding a specialized school where the girl is now thriving. They did this work pro bono.
In 2013, The Connecticut Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Section (CBA YLS), in collaboration with the Connecticut Pro Bono Network, participated in the $1 Million Pro Bono Service Campaign, which would amount to about 4,000 hours of free work in a three month period. The Campaign was a huge success and actually clocked in $2.1 million worth of pro bono work which was closer to 8,800 hours of work performed. Nearly 50 individuals and organizations participated.
We at Thrive are so very fortunate to have clients who have received pro bono assistance from local attorney, Anderson Ellis. Mr. Ellis has swiftly and skillfully assisted clients with some complicated legal matters. One such situation found a client needing to obtain his birth certificate in order to obtain a state ID; however, to our dismay, we found that we could not obtain his birth certificate without his state ID. We were faced with a Catch-22. When we reached out to Mr. Ellis regarding the matter, he was kind and eager to assist. Sometimes it just takes that extra push from a professional who knows the system. Why does he choose to assist Thrive?
“I volunteer my time with Thrive because it is important to help those that struggle to help themselves. If my knowledge of the legal system can assist someone who otherwise might be lost, it is my privilege to contribute some of my time to help. The work that Thrive does is admirable, and I’m happy to be just a small part of it.” – Anderson Ellis
An American Bar Association study showed that about 40% of low-to-moderate income households will experience a need for legal help each year. We are writing this message to thank all of the lawyers out there who donate their time and expertise, and, especially, to say thank you to Mr. Anderson Ellis.