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Lawyers make a difference for people and for society.
They solve legal problems, provide free legal help to
the poor, and give time to many other community efforts.

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Inspiring Stories of Service

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how lawyers can and do help…

pro bono service

Breaking Down Barriers, Pro Bono Style

Mr. J had done everything right since a couple of brushes with the law as a youth. He found a full-time job, got married, and began raising a young child. But his juvenile record kept holding him back. It kept him from advancing in the career he was interested in.

Nathan Dupes, an attorney with the firm Bodman PLC, and Rhadika Sarkar, a law student from Notre Dame Law School, agreed to help Mr. J, pro bono, get his juvenile criminal record expunged so he could move forward with his new life as a positive and productive member of society.

Dupes filed an application to initiate the expungement process, and shortly thereafter they were able to get the court to delete the convictions from Mr. J's criminal record. Needless to say, he was thrilled, and is now determined to apply for the certifications he needs to get an apprenticeship in the electrical field.

His representatives were also thrilled, especially since this was the second expungement Dupes had assisted on. Dupes said Sarkar handled most of the client contact, and noted that Mr. J was a model client, always keeping them informed, doing what they asked, and showing his immense appreciation.

After Sarkar and Dupes assisted with the juvenile expungements they had to take on an adult conviction that remained on his record. Dupes worked with the Attorney General's Office on the more complex, adult expungement, which was a success as well.

Meanwhile, Dupes said he highly recommends pro bono service to other attorneys, and noted that the time commitment is not a barrier.

"[T]he estimated commitment for an adult expungement case is approximately five hours," he observed, adding that pro bono work is a great opportunity for attorneys and law students to gain experience in an area of law where they might not practice on a routine base.

More importantly, he added, being able to help someone in need makes pro bono work even more worthwhile.

—Michelle Erskine and Lynn Ingram

Do you have a Pro Bono or Community Service story to share?
it today to be included in our "A Lawyer Helps" story bank.

Nathan Dupes
Nathan Dupes & Rhadika Sarkar



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