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Editorial


Front Page - Friday, October 2, 2015

Chattanooga lawyers setting the bar for pro bono in Tennessee




As attorneys across Tennessee have volunteered more and more hours of pro bono service, the lawyers of the Chattanooga Bar Association (CBA) have set the bar for their colleagues across the state. Charlie McDaniel, Pro Bono Project director for Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET)’s 10-county Southern Region, says he’s been proud to watch the local bar keep pace. “Chattanooga lawyers have always been viewed as state-wide trendsetters for pro bono,” he wrote in an email to the Hamilton County Herald.

Russell Fowler, associate director of LAET, agrees with McDaniel, and says the dedication of local attorneys to providing legal services to those in need has helped to offset the challenges that can come with fluctuations in funding. “Thankfully, one thing we’ve always been able to count on one-hundred percent is the Chattanooga bar’s dedication to pro bono,” he wrote.

Sheri Fox, attorney at Baker Donelson and chair of the Pro Bono Committee of the CBA, encourages lawyers who are performing pro bono work to report their volunteer time to LAET.

“Attorneys might be doing pro bono outside of Legal Aid, which is fine. However, it is still important to let Legal Aid know about the work for two reasons,” she wrote. “First, unless attorneys tell Legal Aid about what they’ve done, it’s impossible to get a clear picture of all the great work being done in Chattanooga. Second, reporting pro bono hours to Legal Aid allows Legal Aid to report that time to the CLE Commission so attorneys can get CLE credit. All it takes is a short email. “

As Tennessee attorneys continue to respond to the need for free legal assistance, McDaniel hopes even more local lawyers will decide to contribute their time and expertise to ensuring more Tennesseans have access to justice.

“With so many ways to volunteer, if you’re not taking part in organized pro bono, you’re missing out on something truly great,” he wrote.

The mission of Legal Aid of East Tennessee is to ensure equal justice for elderly, abused, and low income persons, providing a wide range of civil legal assistance and advocacy. To inquire about volunteering, visit www.laet.org, or contact McDaniel at (423) 756-4013 or cmcdaniel@laet.org.