The State Bar of Georgia honored its motto “Serving the Public and the Justice System” at its board meeting on June 20th by providing funding for pro bono services.
The Bar’s Board of Governors approved a 2009-10 budget that includes a total of $176,000 for its state support Pro Bono Project and an additional $83,900 to fund a new initiative that encourages and supports lawyers in providing legal services to veterans and servicemembers. The Bar’s infusion of financial support comes at a time when funding for pro bono programs has been severely declining due to the current economic crisis.
The $259,900 in funding for the State Bar Pro Bono Project will ensure that Georgia lawyers continue to receive technical support and assistance in delivering pro bono services to their clients. The Pro Bono Project, a joint program of the State Bar and the Georgia Legal Services Program (GLSP), provides direct supervision of volunteer legal services for GLSP in its mostly rural service area and supports legal aid and pro bono programs generally with technology support, messaging and materials development. The Project also serves pro bono program efforts of local voluntary bar associations in Georgia.
State Bar of Georgia funding will help provide training to volunteer lawyers and pro bono program staff via webinars and webcasts, aid in the expansion of Georgia’s popular volunteer lawyer support website, http://www.GeorgiaAdvocates.org, and continue education and outreach efforts to new attorneys on pro bono and public service issues. The Bar’s financial resources will also help the Pro Bono Project ensure that it can assist members of the public in finding a civil legal aid or pro bono program that can assist them with their legal needs.
The State Bar’s investment of $83,900 in pro bono support will be used to launch a new pro bono and referral program that matches lawyers with veterans and servicemembers who have legal needs related to their military or veteran status. The new program, the brainchild of the Bar’s Immediate Past-President, Jeff Bramlett, has been under development in the past year under the wing of the Bar’s Veterans & Servicemembers Pro Bono Committee. The Committee is comprised of Georgia lawyers who have served in the armed forces or who currently serve in some capacity. The Bar Committee is supported by an advisory committee made up of several Georgia military legal services offices attorneys. The new Bar funding will be used to hire an attorney to manage the new military pro bono program.
“The State Bar of Georgia’s support for pro bono services is wonderful. Members of the Bar certainly appreciate the Bar’s contribution to pro bono and professionalism— Georgia lawyers do see pro bono as a crucial law practice management issue. And with the drastic reduction in available IOLTA funding for pro bono support, the Bar’s commitment to pro bono publico is more important than ever,” says Mike Monahan, Director of the State Bar of Georgia Pro Bono Project.