The Pittsburgh Pro Bono Partnership is moving into a second
year with its unique Lawyers on Loan program as the firm of Reed Smith has
agreed to provide two attorneys for 2006. The partnership is an alliance of the
Allegheny County Bar Foundation, Office of General Counsel staff members from
regional corporations and law firms that works with Neighborhood Legal Services
(NLSA) to increase the amount of pro bono work performed in Southwestern
Pennsylvania. Lawyers on Loan brings mid-level associates to work full-time
with the legal services provider while being paid by the participating law
firm. Amelia Joiner and Beth Thomas from Reed Smith each will work for a six
month period at NLSA. The partnership will continue its recruitment of local
law firms, law schools and corporate legal departments as it strives to
implement a seven-year rotation cycle. The first year was filled successfully
by the full year commitments of Linda Hernandez, an associate at Dickie,
McCamey & Chilcote, and Jennifer Schnore from Thorp Reed & Armstrong.
Hernandez and Schnore arrived at NLSA in October of 2004.
Both had a passion for public interest law and had done pro bono work for NLSA.
As they settled into their new roles, the attorneys were able to do hands-on
work that sharpened their skills in courtroom advocacy, client contact and
decision-making. Together, these two attorneys handled 381 cases and provided
assistance to NLSA attorneys on their cases as well. It is estimated that it
would take roughly 100 lawyers donating time at the typical pro bono level to
equal the full-time services of one of these attorneys. They have both
indicated that because of their experience at NLSA, they “will always be
advocates for this system.” Because of the help provided by Hernandez and
Schnore, NLSA was able to provide clients with full representation at a time
when many other legal aid organizations were only able to provide telephone
advice. An article on this topic appears in the January/February 2006 The Pennsylvania Lawyer magazine on pages
50-51. PBA members can view the article by visiting
the members-only area and clicking on “The Pennsylvania Lawyer Magazine"
from the menu of members-only material. Click on the January/February 2006 issue.
You also can visit www.pabar.org/probono/probonospotlight0305.asp.