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Pro Bono is a Real Solution

Legal Aid organizations across the nation are recognized as a lawyers’ charity. In part, this is because being an attorney is necessary in filling many available volunteer roles within legal aid organizations. Lawyers are also encouraged by bar associations to fulfill ethical obligations to provide legal assistance to those less fortunate. Opportunities to provide pro bono services are copious and the demand for attorneys to take cases continues to grow.

In 2015, ? cases were assigned through the Legal Aid of the Bluegrass volunteer lawyer programs. Attorneys work on a variety of cases including divorce, bankruptcy, denial of public benefits and other civil legal areas. Without this support, LABG would be overcome with requests for help and individuals would go without representation. Recently, an article was released about the public defender system in Hamilton County being “underfunded and overwhelmed”. It goes on to say that zealous representation cannot be provided in all cases because of this lack of support. Legal Aid organizations experience this same difficulty with the added urgency that if legal assistance cannot be provided, representation will likely not occur. There is no right to an attorney in all civil legal cases, making the need for pro bono participation even greater.

Every year, LABG hosts luncheons and other events to recognize attorneys who volunteer their time to take a pro bono case. These are the unsung heroes in our communities. In addition to hearing from influential speakers, special awards are given to attorneys who go above and beyond the call of duty. See below for a list of individuals who were acknowledged for their service.

2015 Service Awards Northern Kentucky Volunteer Lawyers 2015 Pro Bono Awards (September 3, 2015) Attorney of the Year: Representative Thomas R. Kerr Nick of Time Award: Tom Edge Special Recognition: John C. Fischer (posthumously) Justice for All Award: Glenda Harrison Public Interest Law Student Award: Matthew Stewart

Bluegrass and Bourbon Benefit (October 26, 2015) Attorney of the Year: Delores Woods Baker Firm of the Year: Martin & Vincent Distinguished Service: Roger Hall

Fayette County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyer Recognition Luncheon (October 27, 2015) Attorney of the Year: Andrea Welker Outstanding Lay Volunteer: Alexis Gonzalez Award of Excellence: Judge John Schrader (retired) Access to Justice Award: Eileen O’Brien

Joshua Crabtree, Executive Director of Legal Aid of the Bluegrass, closes this year’s pro bono program by proclaiming “Pro Bono lawyers advocate for real people in real situations with real problems. Thank you for being part of real solutions.”

We hope to have continued support from the legal community in addressing the needs of low income individuals in Kentucky. If you are interested in being part of a real solution please contact us: Central/Eastern Kentucky- Melinda Jennings/ mjennings@lablaw.org Fayette County- Trinia Clemons/ tclemons@lablaw.org Northern Kentucky- Cindy Millay/ cmillay@lablaw.org