“A lawyer should be mindful of deficiencies in the administration of justice and of the fact that the poor, and sometimes persons who are not poor, cannot afford adequate legal assistance. Therefore, all lawyers should devote professional time and resources and use civic influence to ensure equal access to our system of justice for all those who because of economic or social barriers cannot afford or secure adequate legal counsel. A lawyer should aid the legal profession in pursuing these objectives and should help the bar regulate itself in the public interest.” Preamble to the Nebraska Rules of Professional Conduct.
This Summit brings stakeholders together to discuss the current delivery of pro bono services in Nebraska and to address theneed for collective efforts to meet the of people who need, but cannot afford adequate legal assistance in Nebraska. Participants will join together in a “Call to Action” to implement a plan increase pro bono services to narrow the gap in the services.
1:00 pm Introduction/Welcome
Elizabeth Neeley, Nebraska State Bar Association
1:05 pm Nebraska Judicial Branch Commissions and Committees
- Nebraska Access to Justice Commission, An Overview
Justice Stephanie Stacy, Nebraska Supreme Court, Co-Chair
Created in 2017, the Access to Justice Commission promotes the Nebraska Supreme Court’s goal of providing equal access to swift, fair justice for all Nebraskans regardless of income, race, ethnicity, gender, disability, age or language.
- Nebraska Supreme Court Committee on Self-Represented
Litigation - Hon. Frankie Moore, Court of Appeals, Judge, Chair
Created in 2003, the Committee engages in continuing analysis and study of the challenges which self-represented litigation poses for court staff, the judiciary, and the practicing bar. It continues assessment of the challenges to the right of self-representation which the judicial system currently presents; proposes solutions or improvements in response to such challenges to the Nebraska Supreme Court; and implements the recommendations of the Self-Represented Litigation Committee which the Nebraska Supreme Court approves.
1:30 pm A Lawyer’s Responsibility to Provide Pro Bono Services
David Houghton, Houghton Bradford Whitted, PC, LLO
Neb. Ct. R. § 3-506.1 describes the responsibility of every lawyer to give pro bono legal services. Every lawyer, regardless of professional prominence or professional work load, has a responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay. The personal involvement in the problems of the disadvantaged can be one of the most rewarding experiences in the life of a lawyer. The American Bar Association urges all lawyers to provide a minimum of 50 hours of pro bono services annually. This session discusses a lawyer’s special responsibility to devote professional time and resources to ensure equal access to justice for all those who, because of economic or social barriers, cannot afford or secure adequate legal counsel.
1:45 pm ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service
Steven Scudder, Counsel, ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service
The mission of the Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service is to ensure access to justice through the expansion and enhancement of the delivery of legal and other law-related services to the underserved through volunteer efforts of legal professionals nationwide. The Committee fosters the development of pro bono programs and activities by law firms, bar associations, corporate legal departments, law schools, government attorney offices and others; analyzes the scope and function of pro bono programs; and proposes and reviews policy that affects lawyers’ ability to provide pro bono legal services. This session discusses what motivates lawyers to do pro bono work, the components of successful pro bono work, and the successes law firms and corporate counsel have experienced with pro bono projects.
2:30 pm Law School Pro Bono Initiatives
Catherine “Kate”Mahern, Associate Professor, Endowed Chair, Connie Kearney Endowed Chair in Clinical Legal Education and Director of Creighton Law School Milton R. Abrahams Legal Clinic; Professor Kevin Ruser, University of Nebraska College of Law
The American Bar Association accreditation standards require law schools to provide substantial opportunities for student participation in pro bono work. Representatives from Creighton University School of Law and the University of Nebraska College of Law discuss law school initiatives to engage students in pro bono work.
2:50 pm Break
3:00 pm Innovative Collaboration in the Delivery of Pro Bono Services
Moderator: Brian D. Craig, Chair, Public Interest Law Section
In this session, managing attorneys of nonprofit legal aid and legal service providers discuss current models used in the delivery of civil legal services, case priorities, barriers and challenges to pro bono representation. This session provides an overview of established programs governed by Neb. Ct. R. § 3-506.5, through which lawyers provide short-term limited legal services that help persons address legal problems without further representation by a lawyer. Panelists include attorneys from the ACLU, Creighton Law School Milton R. Abrahams Legal Clinic, Disability Rights of Nebraska, Justice for Our Neighbors, Legal Aid of Nebraska, Nebraska Appleseed, University of Nebraska Law School Civil Law Clinic, Volunteer Lawyers Project, and Women’s Center for Advancement.
3:40 pm Pro Bono Programs in Law Firms
Lisa Dewey, DLA Piper (video); Marnie Jensen, Husch Blackwell, Lincoln; Kathleen R. Barrow, Jackson Lewis, Omaha
Neb. Ct. R. § 3-506.1, cmt. 9 recommends that law firms act reasonably to enable and encourage all lawyers in the firm to provide pro bono legal services. In this session, law firm pro bono coordinators will discuss pro bono policies, matters, and ways that Nebraska law firms can make pro bono a vital part of the firm’s practice.
4:20 pm Call to Action
Timothy Engler, President, Nebraska State Bar Association; Justice Stephanie Stacy, Co-Chair Access to Justice Commission
A “Call to Action” for nonprofit organizations that work with underrepresented populations to address gaps in services through collective effort and through pro bono work; for Nebraska law firms to make a commitment to pro bono legal services by partnering with legal aid service providers and pro bono programs, to set goals for yearly pro bono work, and to encourage firmwide participation in pro bono initiatives; for every lawyer to accept one pro bono case annually or work on an ongoing pro bono matter through a legal aid service provider or organized pro bono program; for all lawyers to financially support local and statewide civil legal aid and pro bono programs.
4:30 pm Closing Remarks
Brain D. Craig, Chair, Public Interest Law Section
4:40 pm Reception in Creighton Commons Area
Reception Sponsored by: