Sara G. Neill
BAMSL President, 2019-20
Shareholder, Capes Sokol
Originally published in the October 2019 issue of the St. Louis Lawyer magazine. View in the archives.
During a recent BAMSL Executive Committee meeting, Assistant Executive Director Dan Barnett presented the leadership team with a handout illustrating each of the pro bono-focused projects in which the organization is currently engaged. As we discussed each of the projects, it occurred to me that many of our members are probably unaware of some of the opportunities to volunteer.
With all of the emails we receive daily from clients, our law firms or employers, opposing counsel, politicians and organizations wanting money, and in my case, all of those plus Saks, Nordstrom, Banana Republic and my kids' school writing to inform me of the assignments my kids forgot to turn in, it can be hard to keep up with everything BAMSL is doing.
Rather than send yet another email, I thought I would summarize BAMSL's pro bono-focused projects here in case you happen to be looking for a volunteer opportunity:
St. Louis Federal Court Legal Advice Clinic
BAMSL, along with the Federal Practice Advisory Committee to the Eastern District of Missouri, recently started a free legal clinic designed to assist self-represented individuals in getting answers to their legal questions about filing civil cases in federal district court. Located at the Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse, the clinic offers individuals the opportunity to meet with volunteer private attorneys for free 30-minute consultations. The clinic is open on Wednesday mornings from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. If you are interested in volunteering, you can submit an application to the federal district court. The application may be found on BAMSL's Web site at https://www.bamsl.org/federalcourt.
Lawyers for City Neighborhoods
Through the Lawyers for City Neighborhoods program, started in 2012, private attorneys trained by BAMSL and Legal Services of Eastern Missouri (LSEM) volunteer their time assisting the City Counselor's Office, LSEM, and neighborhood associations in using legal remedies to address problem properties in the City of St. Louis. If you are interested in getting involved in this project, please contact Paul Brown of Thompson Coburn, chair of BAMSL's Lawyers for City Neighborhoods Committee.
St. Louis Bankruptcy Pro Se Assistance Program
Also located at the Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse, this free legal clinic is designed to assist self-represented individuals in getting answers to their bankruptcy-related legal questions. Individuals can meet with experienced volunteer private attorneys for free 30-minute consultations. The clinic is open twice a month and accepts appointments and walk-ins. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact David Gunn, chair of BAMSL's Bankruptcy Committee. Currently, more than 26 BAMSL members are providing volunteer services through this program. Additional program information is available at https://www.bamsl.org/bankruptcy.
Pro Bono Challenge
Each year, law firms commit to 10 hours of pro bono service per year per attorney at their firm and come together to sign a pledge at an annual celebration and awards luncheon. Since January 2017, nearly 83,000 hours of pro bono legal services have been reported. This year, more than 20 law firms have committed to the challenge. If your firm is interested in signing the pro bono pledge, please contact BAMSL.
In addition to these great projects, BAMSL offers other pro bono resources including a directory of organizations needing volunteer attorneys to provide pro bono legal services to the community and online resources for pro bono attorneys, including video recordings of CLE seminars and materials. Visit https://www.bamsl.org/probono to learn more.
Finally, just in case it gets buried in your email, we are excited to celebrate pro bono with a free half-day seminar to be held during National Pro Bono Week from noon to 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 24. Hope to see you there. Details and registration are available at https://www.bamsl.org/CelebrateProBono2019.