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Volunteering for justice: County Council celebrates Pro Bono Week

Summary

Recognizing the efforts of attorneys providing legal aid to those in need

Story

10_23_probono_web
 Jorge L. Barón, Executive Director, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (holding proclamation), is joined
by Councilmembers and attorneys representing
the King County Bar Association, Eastside Legal Assistance and the
Washington State Bar Association after the Council
declared October 22–28 as Pro Bono Week in King County

The Metropolitan King County Council today proclaimed the week of October 22–28 as “Pro Bono Week” in honor of those who volunteer their time pro bono to provide legal services to individuals and families in need.

“Recognizing Pro Bono week highlights the importance of providing legal representation to those in our community most in need,” said Council Vice Chair Reagan Dunn, co-sponsor of the proclamation. “I’d like to thank the attorneys in our region who dedicate their time and talent for the benefit of others and encourage others to participate in this worthy cause.”

“Many of the most meaningful experiences of my legal career came from my service as a pro bono attorney representing domestic violence survivors, and working on cases regarding immigration and family law disputes,” said proclamation co-sponsor Vice Chair Rod Dembowski. “It is an honor to highlight the tireless work done by pro bono attorneys, on behalf of our most vulnerable. Our justice system is better for everyone, as a result of their efforts and dedication.”

In 2016, over 345,525 hours of volunteer legal help was provided to individuals and families. According to a recent civil legal needs study commissioned by the Washington Supreme Court, seven in ten low income households in Washington State face at least one significant civil legal problem each year. Since 2003, the average number of legal problems per household has more than tripled.

Law schools throughout the state have developed a strong culture of service through pro bono programs that help provide their students gain real world experience. Private firms offer support to legal aid organizations through partnerships that encourage pro bono – which the Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) and the King County Bar Association promote.

King County has stepped up to support legal services in recent years due to declining federal support and stagnant state funding. The County’s role has enabled legal aid organizations to leverage support through unique partnerships.


 

PROCLAMATION

WHEREAS, our justice system is founded on the fundamental principles of equity and fairness for all, and pro bono services grant individuals access to legal representation regardless of their means; and

WHEREAS, nearly three in four Washington residents face urgent civil legal issues each year, including issues related to health care, consumer and financial services, domestic violence, divorce, child custody, foreclosure, eviction, and abuse; but less than 25 percent receive legal assistance; and

WHEREAS, access to legal assistance can improve economic security and personal safety, protect civil liberties, and lead to a more just society; and

WHEREAS, legal services agencies, pro bono service programs, law-schools, the American Bar Association, the Washington State Bar Association, the King County Bar Association, local county bar associations, and private firms throughout the state have enlisted the services of volunteer attorneys to address the legal needs of low-income people; and

WHEREAS, all attorneys licensed in Washington State are encouraged to provide at least 30 hours of free legal services annually to those unable to obtain legal counsel; and

WHEREAS, in 2016, attorneys in Washington State provided over 345,525 hours in volunteer legal help to individuals and families; and

NOW, THEREFORE, we, the Metropolitan King County Council, proclaim the week of October 22-28, 2017, as

PRO BONO WEEK

in King County to honor and thank the attorneys who volunteer their time and expertise to provide legal services to those in need.

DATED this twenty-third day of October, 2017.

Contact the Council
Main phone:
206-477-1000
TTY/TDD:
206-296-1024
Email:
council@kingcounty.gov