Leveraging Resources To Help The Most Vulnerable Access Justice

Pro Bono Proclamation

Written by Eric Gonzalez, Director
Washington State Equal Justice Coalition

The Equal Justice Coalition is excited to share two significant demonstrations of support to the Alliance for Equal Justice community. At the request of the Equal Justice Coalition, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee and the Metropolitan King County Council proclaimed October 20-26, 2013 as Pro Bono Week.

On October 21, 2013, Metropolitan King County Councilmembers Rod Dembowski and Reagan Dunn co-presented a proclamation, before a group of highly involved community leaders, in recognition of the critical role volunteer attorneys play in helping low-income people, who cannot afford legal representation, overcome civil legal issues.

“As an attorney in private practice I worked on a number of pro bono cases on behalf of domestic violence survivors,” said Councilmember Rod Dembowski, the sponsor of the proclamation. “This firsthand experience gave me a deep appreciation for the tireless work done by pro bono attorneys, on behalf of our most vulnerable. Our justice system is better for everyone, as a result of their efforts and dedication.”

In 2012, over 67,000 hours of volunteer legal help was provided to over 20,000 people by Washington State attorneys

Accepting the proclamation and speaking on behalf of the Alliance for Equal Justice community was Washington State Bar (WSBA) President Patrick Palace. Palace stated, “As an alliance, we are working towards ensuring access to justice positively impacts thousands of low-income people that require legal aid services to meet their basic human needs. The leadership that has come together for this special recognition represents the network that we’ve built to ensure that mission becomes reality.”

Councilmember Chair Larry Gossett noted, “It was very enlightening to hear how many public and private firms and organizations, in a formalized way, provide pro bono funding and encourage all their members to give pro bono time. It became crystal clear on how valuable that is to the broader community.” Giving praise to the Equal Justice Coalition and the Alliance community for its holistic approach to resolving access to justice barriers and issues of inequality, Gossett stated, “It was really inspirational to hear that we have a partnership, a coalition of agencies, where you guys come together and talk about how you can be even more effective. Mr. Chairman, I don’t think that there’s any other local community or state that can say as much, so that us even more prouder that we were able to sponsor this special recognition for pro bono week.”

You can watch the proclamation online by clicking on this link (listed under item 5 of the agenda).

To read Councilmember Dembowski’s press release about the proclamation, click here.

To read Governor Inslee’s proclamation (pictured above), click here.