Take the MBA Pro Bono Pledge

by Maya Crawford
Legal Aid Services of Oregon

Visit www.mbabar.org/AboutUs/ProBono.html to sign the pledge.

Thousands of low-income Oregon residents face serious legal problems. Families are losing their homes to foreclosure. Women and children are threatened by abusive relationships. People with disabilities are being unfairly denied benefits. Oregon's poverty population has grown dramatically during the recession.

Sadly, there is no correlation between the severity of a legal problem and a person's ability to pay for an attorney. In Oregon we are meeting less than 18% of the civil legal needs of the poor. Attorneys and law firms who have taken the MBA Pro Bono Pledge help fill this ever-increasing justice gap.
The Pro Bono Pledge effort started in 2008 and it calls on attorneys to commit to at least one pro bono matter per year. In addition, law firms are asked to adopt a written pro bono policy and to encourage participation in the individual pledge. Both firms and attorneys are asked to financially support legal service organizations. During 2012, 61 law firms and 172 individual attorneys in Multnomah County rose to the challenge and signed the pledge.

A number of law firms that took the Pro Bono Pledge in 2012 participated in the OSB Debtor Creditor Section Legal Aid Bankruptcy Clinic. Attorneys from Brindle McCaslin & Lee; Ball Janik; Clarke Balcom Law; Farleigh Wada Witt; Greene & Markley; Harrang Long Gary Rudnick; Law Office of Jonah Paisner; Law Office of Gary Underwood Scharff; Parker Butte & Lane; Perkins Coie; PSU Student Legal Services and Todd Trierweiler & Associates all lent a hand to help low-income people file Chapter 7 Bankruptcies through the clinic. Collectively they contributed hundreds of pro bono hours.

Elder-law attorney Karen Knauerhase of Knauerhase Law Office also took the pledge. Karen has volunteered every month for the Senior Law Project (SLP) for more than 10 years. She gives a free half-hour of legal advice to approximately six Multnomah County seniors at each clinic, as well as doing ongoing pro bono work. Her work has included doing free wills for several low-income seniors, which she finds very rewarding.

Carson Bowler of Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt PC also took the individual pledge and his law firm took the firm pledge. Carson has volunteered with the Domestic Violence Project (DVP) since 2001. He has represented over 25 victims of domestic violence in contested restraining order hearings.

Pro bono attorneys make a huge impact on the lives of their clients. By taking the Pro Bono Pledge, and giving their time and money, Multnomah County lawyers are making a significant contribution to our community. To sign the 2013 Pro Bono Pledge please visit www.mbabar.org/AboutUs/ProBono.html. You can also find other pro bono resources such as pro bono opportunities and an interactive tool to create a firm pro bono policy on the website. Together, we can make a difference.

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