Find creative ways to help people facing home foreclosure, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan encouraged lawyers at an ABA pro bono awards lunch.
Madigan cited the example set by the general counsel's office of the Federal Reserve of New York, which created a program to help families at risk of losing their homes. The general counsel's office worked in partnership with the Association of the Bar of the City of New York to persuade Citigroup Inc., JP Morgan Chase & Co. and other large lenders to provide waivers to their outside counsel so that those private practitioners could negotiate for individual home borrowers on a pro bono basis.
“This type of program creates incentives for private firms to step up to the pro bono challenge during these deeply troubling times,” Madigan said. All sectors of the legal profession “need to engage in more innovative and creative partnerships to create more access to the justice system.”
Honorees at the ABA Pro Bono Publico Awards lunch today included Morrison & Foerster senior counsel Gordon Erspamer, bankruptcy lawyer Hope Olsson of Rochester, N.Y.'s Olsson & Feder, the Federal Government Pro Bono Program, the Holocaust Survivors Justice Network, and Weil, Gotshal & Manges.
When asked about the profession’s help for out-of-work lawyers, Madigan praised some law firms for paying their prospective associates reduced salaries to do public-service jobs at a time when the firms don’t have enough work to bring on new lawyers.
“They’ll get the type of experience they wouldn’t be getting when they’re a first-year, or even a fifth-year to be honest at some of the major firms,” Madigan said in an interview. “Instead, they’ll be able to take the depositions, argue those discovery motions or argue substantive motions in court.”