Food For Thought on Privilege from the World Trust’s Summer of Justice & Racial Healing Series
By World Trust
Spotlight on Business Law Pro Bono: How Business Law Lawyers Contribute to Economic Justice
“Pro bono service has to become as much a part of our substantive efforts as corporate law, tax law, real estate law and all of the other aspects of law that form part of our business law practice.—Joseph Mullaney, General Counsel of Gillette Company
Business law lawyers often feel challenged to provide pro bono legal services within their legal practice area. In an effort to increase the number of pro bono volunteers, many pro bono organizations and professionals claim (and in some instances proclaim) how much business law lawyers grow when they “step out of their comfort zone” and tackle litigation-based pro bono cases. Most business law lawyers (myself included) take offense to the suggestion that we somehow need to grow. Instead of encouraging a business law lawyer to grow experientially through litigation based pro bono, we should encourage each business law lawyer to use his or her legal skills to meet the ethical obligations of ABA Model Rule 6.1, which encourages every lawyer to provide pro bono legal services to “persons of limited means or . . . charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental, and educational organizations in matters which are designed primarily to address the needs of persons of limited means.” A business law lawyer need not depart from his or her practice area in order to meet this obligation. Assisting a client of limited means in obtaining economic justice (or a nonprofit organization assisting their clients to do the same) is just as laudable as battling on behalf of a client of limited means in a court of law.
Opportunity for Service: WSBA Now Accepting Applications for Practice of Law Board, Due 8/21
The WSBA is now recruiting volunteers to serve on the Practice of Law Board. The Board was created by the Washington Supreme Court in 2001 and Reconstituted in July 2015. This Board will focus on:
- Convening stakeholders to discuss the Practice of Law Board’s future and submit recommendations to the Court;
- Educating the public about how to receive competent legal assistance; and
- Considering new avenues for nonlawyers to provide legal and law-related services
- Rendering Advisory Opinions
- Referring non-frivolous complaints alleging unauthorized practice of law to appropriate authorities
The Court appoints members after considering nominations from the Practice of Law Board, the Board of Governors and other interested people and organizations. The Board has 13 members and at least four must be community representatives. Members serve three-year terms and are eligible for reappointment to a second term. Lawyer members must be WSBA members on active status. Terms begin Oct. 1, 2015. The Board will have up to 11 openings, including at least three community representatives.
To apply, login to myWSBA, then use this link to access the committee application.
The application deadline is 6 p.m. on Aug. 21, 2015. Please apply only for the Practice of Law Board, as the deadline for other opportunities has passed.
Justice Department Condemns Local Criminalization of Homelessness, Files Brief in Case Against Boise, Idaho
On August 6, 2015, the Department of Justice put enforcement power behind longstanding federal policy against criminalization of homelessness by filing a statement of interest brief in a case opposing a Boise, ID anti-camping ordinance brought by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP) and Idaho Legal Aid Services, with the pro bono support of Latham & Watkins LLP.
The NLCHP case, filed in 2009, seeks to overturn a Boise ordinance which criminalizes sleeping in public, even when there are not enough shelter beds available to homeless individuals. Boise amended its ordinance in 2014 in response to the lawsuit, but continues to allow police to ticket homeless persons if any shelter beds are open, even if those beds are unavailable to individuals due to disability or religious objection, and although the total number of homeless people in Boise far exceeds the number of beds.
Coming Full Circle
At the age of 12, Krystal Koop found herself living on the streets of Anchorage, Alaska. An abusive relationship was the primary catalyst to her two years of homelessness. She couch-surfed, spent innumerable nights in shelters, and, on the good days, found refuge in a close friend’s home.
At 14, she got shingles — an extremely painful skin rash very rare among teenagers — from the stress and trauma she endured daily. It went untreated for weeks. She had no access to proper treatment or someone she could readily confide in. Eventually, her close friend’s mom, the one she spent many nights with, noticed her itching and squirming.
“Why didn’t you say anything?” the woman asked Koop.
“There were so many reasons why I couldn’t, didn’t say anything,” Koop said.
Continue reading here. Photo credit of Lindsey Yamada.