Pennsylvania Bar Association Launches Inaugural Pro Bono Contest to Celebrate National Pro Bono Week
- Pennsylvania Bar Association Pro Bono Office
The Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) Pro Bono Office is hosting its inaugural Pro Bono Week Free Legal Answers Contest to celebrate Pro Bono Month from October 16-30, 2023!
Volunteer Lawyers will earn a prize ticket for each question they answer on the Pa. Free Legal Answers site during the contest period. The PBA Pro Bono Office will draw winners from the tickets earned on October 31.
The first ticket drawn of a lawyer who is a not a PBA member, gets a free 14-month PBA membership. The first ticket drawn of a PBA member who does not have the PBI ProPass, gets a ProPass for the year. The first ticket drawn of a PBA member with ProPass gets four Phillies-Pirates tickets at the ballpark of their choice (Philadelphia or Pittsburgh).
Everyone is eligible to win except PBA staff attorneys, but you must sign-up on the Pennsylvania Free Legal Answers site to answer questions.
The PBA Pro Bono Office introduced Pennsylvania Free Legal Answers to PBA members and other lawyers in 2021 and the site is growing, with nearly 500 client questions each month. Across the nation, more than 300,000 questions have been answered. Check out this good work by the ABA: https://ambar.org/4dby9j
PBA Pro Bono Coordinator David Keller Trevaskis says, “People sometimes ask me if answering questions from those in need really constitutes pro bono service. I tell this story often about how a single question asked and answered shows that Pennsylvania Free Legal Answers helps people and helps the overall administration of justice. A client had posted her question about a legal problem she was having because her uncle died. She had posted it under family law because in her mind her uncle was family and there was a legal problem, that the house he had owned and that she lived in, with her taking care of him at the end of his life, was in danger of being foreclosed. She had expressed that her biggest concern was that her cats would be homeless. A lawyer reviewing the question recognized this as an estate problem and reached out to the client to ask for details.”
Trevaskis continued, “The site allows lawyers to anonymously interact with clients who only know that a vetted lawyer from the site is asking them questions. Over a few questions and answers, it turned out that the uncle had died without a will and his niece, not understanding the law, had not moved to open up administration of his estate as his only heir. Once it was explained to her how she could go to the Register of Wills in her county with a copy of his death certificate, get letters of administration, set up an estate account, pay up the mortgage and avoid foreclosure, she went through the steps the lawyer outlined and avoided foreclosure. Not only were her cats safe, but so was she. The community, instead of having loose cats and a homeless person, instead had a cared-for home and a taxpayer. The lawyer, if the woman was in his area, might have broken the anonymity of the site — that is always the lawyer’s option —and helped her directly, but his advice was enough to save the day.”
Trevaskis added, “On top of helping the woman and her community out, the lawyer also saved the local legal aid program the huge amount of time it would have required of the legal aid intake people to process the woman’s initial outreach to find her real problem. Given how overburdened and underfunded our legal aid system is, that exchange probably would have led to frustration on both sides and might have not led to representation or even the careful advice the Free Legal Answers lawyer was able to give. A true win for all involved.”
- Pro Bono