Interested in a good read for the upcoming long weekend? With recent attention focused on events in Baltimore, Cleveland, Ferguson, Staten Island, and beyond, look no further than Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative. It’s one of the most inspiring books we’ve read this year.
In his best-selling memoir, Stevenson tells the story of how he became a public interest lawyer, dedicating his career to defending the poor and the wrongly convicted and reforming our nation’s broken justice system. Among Stevenson’s many victories, which include securing relief for scores of condemned prisoners and winning a Supreme Court ruling that life sentences without parole for juveniles are unconstitutional, is his exoneration of Walter McMillian, who served six years on death row for a crime he did not commit. Through his riveting account of this case and other meaningful struggles and achievements, Stevenson documents the extent to which poverty and racial bias continue to shape and infect our criminal justice system.
Pro bono lawyers have a critical role to play in fixing our nation’s criminal justice system and ensuring equal justice for all. For more inspiration, check out Stevenson’s compelling TED talk on the topic of injustice. We hope you’ll be motivated to embark on a summer of pro bono service.
And, as we say hello to the summer season this weekend with cookouts, swimming, and baseball games, don’t forget this Memorial Day holiday to honor and pay tribute to the men and women who paid the ultimate price and gave their lives while serving in the military. We are grateful to them and their families for their sacrifices and their service. Providing pro bono assistance to eligible veterans is a unique opportunity for lawyers to exercise our patriotic duty and in some small way repay those who served our country.