Why is pro bono representation needed?
The American Bar Association has estimated that 80% of America’s poor are unable to obtain representation when they have serious civil legal problems. Although government funded legal aid programs work hard to serve the indigent, insufficient funding means that these programs have far too few attorneys to meet the huge need, while conflicts of interest and regulatory restrictions force them to deny services to many people who are experiencing legal crises. This is true here in Lackawanna County as it is elsewhere in the country.
What is Lackawanna Pro Bono, Inc.’s purpose?
Lackawanna Pro Bono, Inc. was created to increase the amount and scope of pro bono representation in Lackawanna County. A 501(c)(3) corporation, it was founded in 1997 by attorneys Carlene R. Gallo, Robert T. Gownley, Jr., and Jill H. Miller, with the support of the Lackawanna Bar Association.
How many Lackawanna County attorneys participate in pro bono services?
- During the time Lackawanna Pro Bono has been operating, more than 370 local attorneys have represented one or more pro bono clients in cases that Lackawanna Pro Bono, Inc. referred to them.
- Other local attorneys have supported Lackawanna Pro Bono, Inc. through contributions to the organization’s operating budget and in other ways.
- Local attorneys also perform pro bono work through projects sponsored by the Middle District Bankruptcy Bar Association and the local Federal Bar Association and informally, without referrals from an organized pro bono program.
How many people has Lackawanna Pro Bono, Inc. served?
From October 1997, when it began making pro bono referrals, through September 30, 2014, Lackawanna Pro Bono, Inc. obtained pro bono attorneys for over 2,700 cases, helping more than 6,000 people.
What are some of Lackawanna Pro Bono, Inc.’s other accomplishments?
- In May 1998, the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation selected Lackawanna Pro Bono, Inc. as the recipient of its Louis J. Goffman Award for outstanding pro bono service to the community.
- In April 2000, Lackawanna Pro Bono, Inc.’s pro bono attorneys were selected as the recipient of the J.C. Penney Company Golden Rule Award, in the group category, for outstanding volunteer service in the community.
- In October 2000, the United Nations Association – USA of Northeastern Pennsylvania honored Lackawanna Pro Bono, Inc. with a Certificate of Achievement.
- On September 12, 2003, the Greater Scranton Interdependence Day Committee presented Lackawanna Pro Bono, Inc. with the Liberty Award for outstanding citizen action and service.
- In the spring of 2004, the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation awarded its Louis J. Goffman Award to Attorney Carlene R. Gallo for her work as President of Lackawanna Pro Bono, Inc.
- In 2005, Lackawanna Pro Bono, Inc. was recognized by the Northeastern Pennsylvania Nonprofit & Community Assistance Center (NCAC) as a second place winner in the 2005 Community Awards, Health & Human Services category.
- In 2014, the Chapel of Four Chaplains presented a Legion of Honor award to Lackawanna Pro Bono’s Executive Director, Attorney Sylvia H. Hahn.
Who qualifies for Lackawanna Pro Bono, Inc.’s services?
Potential clients must reside in households whose gross incomes do not exceed 125 per cent of the federal poverty guidelines. In addition, their household assets must not exceed certain limits. Services are primarily for Lackawanna County residents and only for cases within Lackawanna County.
What types of cases does Lackawanna Pro Bono, Inc. handle?
Lackawanna Pro Bono, Inc. handles a broad spectrum of civil cases, including the following:
- Debtor-creditor problems
- Mortgage foreclosures
- Unemployment compensation
- Termination of social security or SSI benefits
- Uninsured tort defense
- Family law (for example, custody/visitation, protection from abuse and child support)
- Other serious civil matters
What types of cases Lackawanna Pro Bono, Inc. does NOT handle?
- Criminal cases
- Fee-generating cases (for example, a case in which you are suing someone for money)
- Cases for which another agency or the court will provide a free lawyer
- Cases that are not in Lackawanna County