The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It
July 10, 2013

Pro Bono and the Courts

From the left, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, PBI President Esther Lardent, Judge William Bright, Judge Bernice Donald, and Chief Judge Eric Washington.

From the left, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, PBI President Esther Lardent, Judge William Bright, Judge Bernice Donald, and Chief Judge Eric Washington.

As The PBEye previously detailed, the judiciary is becoming an increasingly prominent player in the fight to advance access to justice.  In order to learn more, PBI hosted a panel of distinguished judges at the closing plenary session of its 2013 Annual Conference. The panel, moderated by PBI President and CEO Esther F. Lardent, included:

• Hon. William Bright—Judge, Connecticut Superior Court
• Hon. Bernice B. Donald—Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
• Hon.  Jonathan Lippman—Chief Judge, New York Court of Appeals
• Hon. Eric Washington—Chief Judge, District of Columbia Court of Appeals

The judges discussed the evolving role of the courts and how the judiciary has a pulpit that can be used to promote the basic concept of equal justice for all. After the opening panel, each judge led a discussion group where attendees explored several pressing questions:

• How can the legal community increase support and funding for legal services and pro bono efforts?
• How can law firms, legal departments, and public interest groups become an integral part of the courts’ efforts to provide a better experience for self-represented litigants?
• What can the courts do to increase the pool of pro bono attorneys and make the pro bono process more effective?
• How can the legal community develop collaborative approaches that reduce the need for litigation?

The closing plenary was a wonderful session during which participants discussed cutting-edge ideas about how the judiciary, law firms, legal departments, and legal service organizations can work together to promote pro bono and improve access to justice. For more detailed information on this session, check out our full recap in the June 2013 edition of The Pro Bono Wire.

We look forward to continuing the discussion at the 2014 PBI Annual Conference on March 5 – 7, in Washington, D.C. Planning is already underway and we welcome your ideas and suggestions.

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