There is no legal standard, civil or criminal, that states that a person’s ability to hire an attorney determines the outcome of their case but far too often this is the reality. At Legal Aid of the Bluegrass, it is our mission to ensure that this is not the case though. We do so by representing vulnerable populations in civil legal matters but as there is no constitutional right to counsel, the demand for our services far exceeds the capacity that our funding allows for. There are approximately 10,000 low-income individuals per Legal Aid attorney in our service area and therefore we rely heavily on the private bar for assistance in this undertaking. There are many outstanding private attorneys that donate their time and talents freely but more are required to meet the need. The individuals that we assist cannot afford to retain private counsel and would otherwise proceed without counsel or would be denied access to the court system altogether. We as attorneys have been incredibly blessed and are fortunate enough to be able to give back to the less fortunate. We should not take ourselves for granted as the work we do truly can change our client’s lives for the better.
As we always do in October, we reflected upon all the hard work of our volunteer lawyers. We celebrated and honored these attorneys in Northern and Central Kentucky at our annual Pro Bono Luncheons. The Northern Kentucky Volunteer Lawyers luncheon took place on October 4, 2016 at Summit Hills Country Club. Jack Gatlin, President of the Northern Kentucky Bar Association, gave the opening remarks and as always, Justice Donald Wintersheimer gave the invocation.
LABG Executive Director, Josh Crabtree presented on behalf of Justice Michelle Keller the Pro Bono Attorney of the Year Award to Irene Rachlinski for her tireless work as a Guardian Ad Litem for children in Domestic Relations cases.
Judge Allison Jones presented the Nick of Time Award to Jennifer Gatherwright for her willingness to accept a complex tax case in the eleventh hour.
Northern Kentucky University Chase College of Law Assistant Dean David MacKnight presented the Law Student of the Year Award to Jennifer Pruitt for her countless hours as a law clerk and volunteer at Legal Aid of the Bluegrass. As the Law Student of the Year, Jennifer was also presented with a $500.00 check from Jim Dressman on behalf of Dressman Benzinger LaVelle psc (DBL Law).
Dick Cullison, Executive Director Emeritus, Legal Aid of the Bluegrass, honored Michael O’Hara with the third annual “Justice for All” award for his lifetime commitment to pro bono and assisting the less fortunate.
The luncheon was a huge success and it could not have been accomplished without the support and sponsorship of the Northern Kentucky Volunteer Lawyers, Inc., the Northern Kentucky Bar Association, the Kentucky IOLTA fund and Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company of Kentucky.
The Fayette County Bar Association Pro Bono Program luncheon took place on October 25, 2016 at the Lexington Hilton Downtown. Lucy Ferguson, Vice President of the Fayette County Bar Association, gave the opening remarks and Justice Mary Noble served as the keynote speaker.
Judge Lucinda Masterton presented the Pro Bono Attorney of the Year award to Ann D’Ambruoso for her willingness to always accept a pro bono divorce case and routinely being a member of the fifty hour club.
Josh Fain, Pro Bono Coordinator for Legal Aid of the Bluegrass, presented the Outstanding Lay Volunteer award to Kristen Gordon for her countless hours volunteering at the Pro Se Divorce Clinics in Fayette County since her retirement from Legal Aid of the Bluegrass.
Joshua Crabtree, Executive Director of Legal Aid of the Bluegrass, presented the Access to Justice Award to Oscar H. Geralds, Jr. for his lifetime dedication to legal services and his time as a board member of Legal Aid of the Bluegrass.
Patricia Smith presented the Friend of Pro Bono Award posthumously to Trinia Clemons. For many years, Trinia handle all the pro bono and pro se efforts for the Fayette County Bar Association Pro Bono Program and Legal Aid of the Bluegrass but unfortunately she lost her battle with breast cancer in March of this year. She was an incredible person and will forever be missed. Moving forward, the award shall be named the Trinia Clemons Friend of Pro Bono Award.
The FCBA luncheon could not have been accomplished without the support and sponsorship of the Fayette County Bar Association Pro Bono Program, Inc., the Fayette County Bar Association, the Kentucky IOLTA fund, Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company of Kentucky, Judge Glenn E. Acree and Judge Laurance B. VanMeter.
We are extremely thankful for the all the private attorneys that give so freely of their time and talents in accepting pro bono clients but the need for these services is immense and new volunteers are greatly needed. We currently have a backlog of eligible clients needing representation in divorce cases and we hope to get enough involvement to place all of those cases. We are also looking for volunteer attorneys to expand upon our current efforts and into new areas of law including bankruptcy, expungement and probate. Attorneys of all levels of experience are appreciated and trainings will be provided as needed. Any and all feedback is also appreciated. If you would like to volunteer, please contact Josh Fain at either (859) 254-1141 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Josh Fain has worked as an attorney with Legal Aid of the Bluegrass for over 10 years. He recently advanced into the role of Pro Bono Coordinator for the entire program. He received his Juris Doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law in 2006 and obtained his Bachelors degree from Transylvania University with a major in Accounting.