Today marked the start of the first annual National Pro Bono Week, sponsored by the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service. Events across the nation will focus on pro bono service, and in Washington, D.C. Bar President Kim Keenan ushered in the celebration this afternoon by accepting a mayoral proclamation from Rawle Andrews, managing attorney of the AARP Legal Counsel for the Elderly, on behalf of Mayor Adrian Fenty.
“In the District of Columbia, attorneys, paralegals, and interns donate thousands of hours of pro bono time each year to serve the needs of the residents of modest means,” the proclamation read. “Therefore, I…call upon all the residents of this great city to join me in recognizing the professionals that give pro bono service to residents in need.”
The week will be capped by a Friday fundraiser called “Go Casual for Justice Jeans Day.” Participating law firms can sign up to donate $5 or more for every person who dresses down. The event organizers said they hope to pull in a healthy sum to be distributed by the D.C. Bar Foundation to pro bono causes.
They've already gotten a good response from local firms, and one in particular has upped the ante. Carter Phillips, managing partner of Sidley Austin's Washington office, has agreed to take a hit to his school pride if his office raises $4,000 through the casual day fundraiser and other donations. "I've agreed to wear a University of Michigan hat and tie for the day," said the Ohio State University alum. "This is no small sacrifice."
His colleagues from Michigan have already escaped embarrassment because the firm has raised more than $3,000, he said: They would have had to sing Ohio State's fight song.
For more information about this and other events, visit www.celebrateprobono.com.