For the second year running, the State Bar of Michigan has designated October as Pro Bono Month, joining the American Bar Association and many other states to highlight the need for and importance of pro bono assistance.
Like lawyers all across the country, Michigan attorneys will be taking part in events to educate the public and the legal profession about pro bono work especially in the face of Michigan's severe economic crisis, rise in foreclosures, and high unemployment and poverty rates. All these factors have contributed to greater demand for legal services. The State Bar's theme for Pro Bono Month this year is "now more than ever—pro bono is more than just the right thing to do."
State Bar President Charles Toy said lawyers have the unique ability to volunteer their legal expertise to those in need. "October provides us with an opportunity to highlight the unmet legal needs of the poor, and to recommit ourselves to the spirit of our Voluntary Pro Bono Standard—annually provide 30 hours of pro bono legal services, accept three pro bono cases, or contribute $300 to legal aid programs." Lawyers who cannot provide service can meet their obligation with a donation to the Access to Justice Fund; many lawyers do both.
Pro Bono Month is also an opportunity to honor those in the legal profession who provide volunteer legal help for the needy or donate to legal programs through the Access to Justice Fund. Law firms, bar associations, legal service providers, judicial associations, and others are encouraged to organize events in October to celebrate pro bono. Resources to assist in planning can be found at the Pro Bono website.