There is no greater time of year for Legal Aid of the Bluegrass (LABG) than the Season of Pro Bono. A time for celebration and appreciation of the legal services provided to needy Kentuckians by volunteer lawyers. Last year alone, LABG received over 10,000 requests for help. LABG attorneys and advocates helped 5, 870 families or about 55% of those Kentucky families that called us for help. Volunteer lawyers fill in the gap and provide much needed legal representation to those LABG cannot. As we celebrate our Pro Bono Event Series each fall, we recognize that our communities and the Commonwealth are fortunate to have members of the private bar committed to helping Kentucky’s most vulnerable. Lawyer’s Mutual of Kentucky is the long term sponsor of the LABG Pro Bono Event series.
We kicked off our Season of Pro Bono with our Pappy for Pro Bono raffle. Thanks to the generosity of Party Town Florence, we had three bottles of Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon aged 10, 12 and 15 years up for grabs. In total, we raised $10,660 in support of LABG’s Pro Bono Programs. Congratulations to our winners: Gayle Hoffman, Jerry Truitt, and Tim Geertz.
The first event in our 2018 Pro Bono event series, was the Attorney Access Committee Pro Bono Recognition Event in Ashland, Kentucky on September 27, 2018. The Attorney Access Committee was recognized for their work in Morehead, Ashland and the surrounding areas. The Access to Justice Award was presented to Kelly Estes Collinsworth for her work managing divorce clinics through the Morehead State University paralegal program. Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Samuel Wright was also recognized for his support of Kentucky’s civil legal aid programs in the 2018 budget session. Funding for Kentucky’s four civil legal aid programs was nearly eliminated from the state’s budget and the Supreme Court of Kentucky was instrumental in having this funding restored. Guests enjoyed music by The Woodsheep and food and drinks by Blazer’s Catering.
Next in our series was the Northern Kentucky Volunteer Lawyers recognition event held on October 4, 2018. Attorneys, Judges, and other professionals gathered to honor the dedication of members of NKVL. For his quick action in helping a woman and her child be free from sexual violence, William R. Adkins was presented the Nick of Time award. The Law Student of the Year award was given to Courtney K VanWay, a University of Cincinnati Law Student, for her work in enhancing NKY wills clinic. Special recognition was given to Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Michelle Keller and attorney J. Stephen Smith for their help safeguarding funding for Kentucky’s civil legal aid programs. Judge Christopher Mehling presented the Pro Bono Attorney of the Year award to Robert E. Bathalter. Bob has been on the pro bono since 1993 and has represented 79 clients who would have otherwise gone without counsel. Finally, the Fifth Annual “Justice for All” award was given to Stephen D. Wolnitzek by LABG Director Emeritus, Richard Cullison. Mr. Wolnitzek, has been serving on the pro bono panel since 1977 and has provided hundreds of hours of high quality legal representation to 109 clients.
Our final event will be held on November 1, 2018 at The Mane on Main in Lexington to honor the Fayette County Bar Association Pro Bono Program. There is still time to RSVP to this event by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The Pro Bono Attorney of the Year award will be presented to Barbara A. Kriz, who has served on the pro bono panel for over 20 years. MML&K Government Solution will receive the Trinia Clemons Friend of Pro Bono Award for their help securing funding for Kentucky’s civil legal aid programs in the 2018 budget session. Secretary John Tilley was awarded the Access to Justice Award earlier this year at the FCBA Annual Law Day Luncheon.
A BIG thank you to Lawyers Mutual of Kentucky for their continued sponsorship of our Pro Bono event series. We are grateful for our shared vision of increasing access to justice for those who cannot afford it.