David Trevaskis roams the state with a proverbial lantern looking to shine the light on lawyers doing good work. He was in Lebanon on July 18, 2005, to pay tribute to the Lebanon County Bar Association for its pro bono efforts. Through this program, local lawyers take cases for no charge for those who qualify for free legal aid but are unable to be helped by MidPenn Legal Services. Trevaskis, the pro bono coordinator for the Pennsylvania Bar Association, said, “The Lebanon County Bar Association has an impressive record with pro bono. It has a long-standing program with an incredibly high rate of participation. This award is well deserved and long overdue.”
Accepting the award was Lebanon County Bar President Mary H. Burchik, Esq. of the Buzgon Davis Law Offices. “As a former legal aid board member, I’m all too aware of the large number of folks who need help. There is simply no way that our legal aid office can handle the demand, and our bar association is proud to step up and do our part. People need access to the system, and we all benefit when disputes are resolved peacefully.”
Also on hand for the presentation were Loreen M. Burkett, Esq., of Keys & Burkett, vice-president of the Lebanon County Bar Association, Colleen S. Gallo, Esq. of Reilly, Wolfson, Sheffey, Schrum & Lundberg, current MidPenn board member and retired attorney William H.G.Warner, Esq., one of the early advocates for pro bono in Lebanon County. Warner said the bar program has been in place since the 1970’s and has no match in the state for level of participation. Attorney Howard Miskey and paralegal Laurie Yurejefcic represented MidPenn Legal Services, which provides free civil legal aid to poor people and victims of domestic violence.
Last year, bar members volunteered over $137,375 in legal work, and over 90 percent of the eligible members participated. Most cases handled are family law cases, but housing, consumer and unemployment issues are also taken. Laurie Yurejefcic, who coordinates the bar program out of the local MidPenn office, said, “Without the volunteer help of the bar association, we couldn’t come close to dealing with all the cases that come in. About 38 percent of all our cases are handled by our pro bono volunteer lawyers. And they really do a great job for the clients.”