Pro bono in print

I just had an article on pro bono published in the October 2014 Georgia Bar Journal.  Check it out.

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Richard Zorza on pro bono and the soul of the legal profession

In his blog, access to justice visionary Richard Zorza points to pro bono as the legal profession’s savior.  Read his article here: Pro Bono Could Lead the Way in Resolving the Struggle for the Soul of the Legal Profession.

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SMS and legal resources for the public

I’m working on a project now to deliver legal resources to the public via SMS.  The aim is to see if we can increase awareness of our free online legal help resources, motivate users to access those resources via SMS and use those resources and provide a means by which users can report their level of success in accessing and using the resources.

Our Georgia SMS campaign is aimed at increasing awareness about credit card debt collections and also garnishments.  We have online resources available through SMS.  Text “action” to 877877.

Text "action" to 877877.

Text “action” to 877877.

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Sweet, the same

In a rambling sort of way I sort through cabinets in which manila file folders rest until, crisp bottom fold lost and rounded, they open like wilted and faded petals over-revealing their aged content.  After 16 years in this pro bono business, I have filed away many word collections and cultivated thoughts and half-brained ideas.  The cabinets open and disgorge the stories.  I am simply the curator now, after my power to narrate has been diminished by the would-haves and should-haves.

One musters the courage to linger over a file folder that offers up razor blades for the self-mutilator.   Slipping through the paper-clipped pages I see where I could have helped but did not. How was my vision then?   I think of John Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale, “was it a vision or a waking dream? Fled is that music–do I wake or sleep?”  How do I see and not see?

The poetry of pro bono falls within many camps: romantic, mystic, modern, classic.  But all poetry is code, expression under oppression. In the forming of the work lies the frustration of too little, too few, too much, too important.

The discernment of success and failure is at best a short-lived contentedness.  All things wrapped in evolution offer up hope.

My aged paper files lie wilted, no fragrance except that of uneasiness.  Sweet, the same.

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Very Important Communications Research Released

Richard Zorza's Access to Justice Blog

This is one of the most important posts I have ever written.  I am honored to be authorized to post the communications research conducted by Lake Research Partners and the Torrance Group on civil legal aid and access to justice for the new Communications Hub funded by the Public Welfare Foundation and the Kresge Foundation. (Disclosures: The Self-Represented Network is on the Advisory Board of the Project and the Public Welfare Foundation is a funder of Network activities.)

I want to do three things.  First highlight what is for me the key finding; second to quote the whole Executive Summary, which everyone should internalize, and; third, make a few comments highlighting things that caught my eye, and may reflect particularly the things that I most care about.


While there is much of importance in the results, the key finding that I hope will revolutionize our attitude so that we…

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Why State-Based Advocacy Orgazations are Important — Two Lessons from Massachuetts

Richard Zorza's Access to Justice Blog

Those of us who try to focus attention on the “access” side of access to justice are often criticized for not planning enough for impact advocacy side.  Two recent developments highlight the importance and potential results of having institutions that focus on legal change and also raise the question why we can not have such institutions in every state.

The Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI), where I worked during law school and briefly afterwards, is with very good reason regarded as one of the best so-called “state back-up centers” funded, till the Gingrich era, by LSC.

A few weeks ago Ernest (Tony) Winsor, the Deputy Director at MLRI for 30 years, died.  An article (not an obituary) in the Boston Globe highlights his career and contributions.  Tony was one of my supervisors as a law student, and I learned so much from him.  As the Globe put it:

One of…

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Can the Self-Represented Collect For Time When Required by Opposing Attorney — Canada Moves

Richard Zorza's Access to Justice Blog

Julie Macfarlane has a fascinating blog on the emerging jurisprudence in Canada dealing with the award of costs when time is required by an opposing attorney’s wrongful activities.  As I understand it, this is analogous to the US Rule 11 sanctions.  As described in the blog, the steps to the most recent decision, Bergen v. Sharpe, which ended up with a $200 an hour charge against the wrongful side, were as follows:

1. In family proceedings in Ontario, costs generally follow the award (Rule 24 Family Law Rules). Ergo, successful SRLs may receive costs. In addition, the courts increasingly use costs to penalize parties who delay, prolong proceedings, make unreasonable claims and refuse to consider settlement (more below).

2. Bad behaviour that would lead to an award of costs in favour of a represented party will similarly lead to an award of costs to a SRL (among others, Fong v…

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Providing pro bono legal assistance to homeless veterans

Today, I’m at the Pro Bono Institute Conference in DC, then heading home. Yesterday’s session on tech went quite well.

In the veterans law pro bono session yesterday, the consensus among the law firms and corporate counsel programs was that no one had a handle on pro bono legal assistance for the homeless vet– that we needed some national gathering on the subject. This morning, by grand coincidence, I struck up a conversation with a doctor at breakfast who happens to be here in DC for the national Health Care for the Homeless conference.

I have a new inspiration– for somebody– not me (too much to do now): forming local medical-legal partnerships with affiliates of the National Health Care for the Homeless Program. NHCHC has a network of programs who have expertise in reaching out to the homeless, including homeless veterans.  We should also reach out to the Health Care for the Homeless Conference organizers to see about conference cross-pollenization on legal issues affecting homeless veterans.  We need to learn about how they deliver their services and apply the lessons our work to provide critical legal assistance.

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Self-Represented Litigation Network Plans Equal Justice Conference Pre-Conference

Richard Zorza's Access to Justice Blog

Once again this coming year, the Self-Represented Litigation Network will be hosting a pre-conference in association with the NLADA/ABA Equal Justice Conference.  The pre-conference will be May 8, 2013, and the main conference will be May 9-11.  As usual, there will be an Access to Justice Commissions gathering on Saturday the 11th.

Here is the overall “save the date.”

Save the Date_EJC2013

More information here.

I very much welcome suggestions and ideas for what we should be focusing the pre-c0nfernce on.  Here is last year’s pre-conference agenda .

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Mandatory Pro Bono for Admission: the Domino Effect?

ABA Center for Pro Bono Exchange

The New Jersey Law Journal reported late last week that New Jersey is considering implementing a mandatory pro bono requirement for admission to the New Jersey Bar. Chief Justice Rabner and the New Jersey Supreme Court have requested an evaluation of New York’s recently released rule requiring all admission seekers to complete at least 50 hours of pro bono service before they can be admitted to the bar.

New Jersey has convened a 16 member group to conduct the evaluation headed by Judge Glenn Grant, Acting Administrative Director of the Courts. The group also contains members of the law school community, legal services, the Courts, the New Jersey State Bar Association, the New Jersey Board of Bar Examiners and other organizations.

With this new development does it seem probable that more and more states will begin to consider similar mandatory pro bono requirements for admission to the bar? Both before…

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I’m a fan of Twitter

I’m a fan of Twitter.  That’s a lot like saying, “I like socks.”  But socks keep your feet warm and reduce irritation.  Socks also say something about you.  And socks are here to stay.

I created a brief presentation about Twitter for people with whom I work.  Twitter is great for promoting pro bono.

If only Twitter could help me follow my socks on laundry day.  Life would be sweeter.

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Mercer Law School, Macon Bar and Jones Cork host benefit concert for Georgia Legal Services Program

On Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012 the Mercer University School of Law and the Macon Bar Association will stage a concert at the Cox Capitol Theater in Macon to benefit the Macon Regional Office of the Georgia Legal Services Program.  The bands SUE ‘N’ THE BASTARDS and THE DEACONS OF DISASTER will take the stage Doors open at 6 p.m..  The show begins at 7 p.m..  Admission is: $50.00/Attorney $25.00/Supporter $10.00/Student (with ID Available at the Door) .  Attorney and Individual Tickets are available.  To purchase tickets click here.

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