December 2016-January 2017: "Access Granted: Not Just to Your Clients, to All"
Admittedly, I stole this quote from a friend; however, Albert Einstein said, “In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same.” In 2013, the American Bar Association in its National Lawyer Population by State Count said there was approximately one lawyer for every 265 people living in the United States, but there was only one legal aid attorney available for every 6,415 low-income people.
As a young lawyer, we all struggle budgeting our time between family, work, paying bills, good clients, bad clients and needy clients. Fortunately, many times the greatest payment comes from helping people who cannot help or afford to help themselves. One in five Louisianians live at or below the federal poverty level. These people need help, too, and many times your bar license (which, just as a reminder, is a “privilege”) is the only thing they need to help them get out of a problem.
Since the occurrence of the two 2016 Louisiana floods, there are many ways that you can get involved and help others. Take a moment and look into getting involved. Use technology to increase the effectiveness of your pro bono representation. Reach out and help those attorneys in other practice areas around you to know how to access basic self-help forms and how to teach clients to use those services. Encourage your fellow attorneys to visit the courthouses specifically to find out what self-help services are available to clients without lawyers. Contact and collaborate with your local bars.
Visit the LSBA’s website, www.lsba.org
, and tour the Disaster Response Donations page if you are willing to donate, or are in need of donations. Probono.net
provides more information about how to get involved, also offering a list of pro bono and legal service organizations searchable by parish. Take part in Lawyers in Libraries. And, finally, you can keep your pajamas on and register today to help with LA.FreeLegalAnswers.org
As young lawyers, we are all trying in one way or another to “climb that ladder.” I encourage you to just stand on your rung for a few extra hours, look down, and take a moment to help those below you who will never be able to even get on a ladder without your assistance.