PCBA gets gets ready for pro bono month

September 29 - October 5, 2014

By Becca Bona

Five years ago, the first National Pro Bono Celebration was held in October. Today, lawyers across the country uphold this fairly new tradition by celebrating and getting involved in pro bono service. In Arkansas opportunities for attorneys to engage in pro bono service are numerous, especially in the central region. 

This year, the Volunteer Organization for Center for Arkansas Legal Services (VOCALS) has called members from the Pulaski County Bar Association (PCBA) to help specifically with the Veterans Legal Assistance Program (VLAP).

PCBA President Melanie Martin speaks on the importance of pro bono work: “The Pulaski County Bar Association has placed an emphasis on increasing members’ pro bono service this year. Pro bono service not only improves our legal skills, but more importantly, it’s an incredible opportunity for us to give back to the citizens of Pulaski County. By sharing our legal skills with our community, we become better attorneys. We all benefit.”

VLAP is a pro bono service to veterans, offered in the form of a clinic. These clinics are held on the second Tuesdays of each month from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Little Rock VA Day Treatment Center, 1000 S. Main Street. 

Currently the VLAP clinic needs more volunteer attorneys. While practice areas in family, housing, consumer and criminal law are needed, a sympathetic listener is the greatest need for many veterans. The next upcoming VLAP clinic will be Tuesday, Oct. 14  from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

If interested, contact Rebekah Tucci or Lora Crawley at 376-3423 - rtucci@arkansaslegalservices.org or lcrawley@arkanaslegalservices.org for more information on how to get involved with VLAP. 

Thankfully the next VLAP clinic coincides with pro bono month, which will hopefully garner attorney volunteer interest. However, pro bono service doesn’t have to stop after October is finished.

Jean Carter, PCBA member and Executive Director for the Center for Arkansas Legal Services said, “Pro bono service is critical for meeting the substantial unmet legal needs of our community. Pro bono volunteerism is important throughout the year. These particular events allow for a great introduction to lawyers who have never done formal pro bono work, as well as those who volunteer throughout the year. Pro bono lawyers will be able to meet with poor veterans, cancer patients and others in need to provide them immediate and meaningful legal assistance.”

Following is a list of pro bono opportunities for the month of October in Central Arkansas: 

Wed., Oct. 22, 5:30 p.m. –

Little Rock – Wills Clinic

Cancer patients at UAMS will have the opportunity to speak with attorneys for free. Volunteer attorneys and law students with the UALR William H. Bowen School of Law will work together to prepare simple wills, advance directives, and powers of attorney for health care and financial matters. The event will take place at the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute. Patients and their spouses or partners can make an appointment online: http://www.arlegalservices.org/uamswills. 

Fri., Oct. 24, 1 p.m. –

North Little Rock – Expungement Clinic

With high interest in the Oct. 4 Pine Bluff Expungement Clinic, the W. Harold Flowers Law Society and legal aid are offering free legal help at Shorter College’s Student Center. Attorneys will be available to assist low-income Arkansans and Shorter College students in preparing the legal forms to seal their criminal records. 

Just Jeans Friday – Statewide 

Law firms, corporate legal departments, government legal offices, judicial offices, and law schools were encouraged to participate in the Just Jeans event by observing a casual Friday on Oct. 25, 2013, with participants making a minimum suggested contribution of $5. Contributions collected went to the Arkansas Access to Justice Foundation to support efforts to increase the financial and pro bono volunteer resources available to our state’s two legal aid providers. In turn, these donations help low-income Arkansans, including domestic violence victims, children, and senior citizens, access the legal services that they need.

Tues., Oct. 28, 1 p.m. –

Little Rock – Wills Clinic

Attorneys will be available at Arkansas Children’s Hospital to offer free legal advice and help to patient families by preparing simple wills, advance directives, and powers of attorney for health care and financial matters. 

Sources: VOCALS, Arkansas Pro Bono Partnership, PCBA