US bar launches Giving Day as part of national pro bono celebration

The initiative focuses on COVID-19 and racial justice

US bar launches Giving Day as part of national pro bono celebration

The American Bar Association (ABA) has launched the inaugural ABA Giving Day as part of the country’s National Celebration of Pro Bono.

The celebration takes place over the week of 25-31 October, with Giving Day being set for 29 October. The new initiative calls for lawyers to give time and money to efforts that “counter the impact of COVID-19 and champion racial justice across America.”

“Now more than ever, we all have witnessed the growing need for pro bono legal services as a response to COVID-19. During these difficult times, countless lawyers have met the challenge to provide legal assistance during the pandemic,” ABA President Patricia Lee Refo said. “Giving Day promotes multiple ways to help ensure a just society by giving lawyers an opportunity to donate their time and their charitable dollars to address the urgent social issues of today.”

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The Fund for Justice and Education, the ABA’s charitable arm, organised the initiative, with chair Roberta Liebenberg saying that National Celebration of Pro Bono week was the “perfect week to do this.”

“It harmonises the message of the many important programs that the ABA has and the opportunities for charitable giving, particularly now with respect to all the uncertainties and issues impacting not only lawyers, but everyone in society as a result of the pandemic,” she said.

According to the American Bar Association Journal, Giving Day encourages donors to support the following programs:

  • Race Equity and Justice Fund, which addresses bias and prejudice in the justice system and society
  • Legal Opportunity Scholarship Fund, which provides financial assistance to racial and ethnic minority law students
  • Judicial Intern Opportunity Program, which helps underrepresented law students obtain paid judicial internships
  • Commission on Women in the Profession, which supports ongoing research and programs to help female lawyers overcome barriers to equality
  • Commission on Homelessness and Poverty, which supports technical assistance to lawyers who serve individuals and families living in low-income housing, shelters and on the streets
  • Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence, which helps survivors by providing training to lawyers on protection orders and virtual litigation
  • Commission on Immigration, which supports due process and fair treatment for immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees through direct representation
  • Free Legal Answers, which ensures that individuals and families receive online legal advice from pro bono lawyers

Donors can give through the special online platform established by the Fund for Justice and Education.

The National Celebration of Pro Bono was launched in 2009 to “showcase the difference that pro bono lawyers can make to our nation, to our system of justice, to our communities and most of all to the clients they serve,” the ABA said. The celebration extends not just across the 50 US states, but also the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Canada.

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