Congratulations to all LSBA Pro Bono Awards honorees!
See story and photo gallery at: LSBA Awards
LBF Grant to Help Immigrant Families
The Pro Bono Project was thrilled to accept a check on Thursday, May 18 from the Louisiana Bar Foundation’s Community Partnership Panel. The Project was awarded a $6,705 grant to begin a new program offering pro bono Provisional Custody By Mandate (PCBM) clinics for the immigrant population.
Read the story: LBF PCBM
Americorps Volunteer Coordinator Position
The Volunteer Coordinator will work closely with the Managing Attorney for Volunteer Engagement on several different volunteer-based program.
Save the Date
The 29th Annual
Justice For All Ball
September 15, 2017
8:00 pm to midnight
Audubon Tea Room
The JFAB 2017 event page is up: JFAB 2017
More details will be available soon.
2016 Volunteer Recognition Awards
It was a terrific CLE followed by the annual Volunteer Recognition Awards and Reception hosted at Jones Walker on Thursday evening, December 8.
Congratulations to all the 2016 awards recipients. Many thanks to our outstanding CLE panel, Jones Walker and to all those who attended.
Cases, Clinics and Success Stories
New Volunteer Opportunity
The Pro Bono Project has taken the lead in managing and recruiting volunteers for Self Help Resource Center (SHRC) at 24th Judicial District Court in Jefferson Parish beginning on April 19, 2016.
See the full story: 24th JDC
To volunteer, please email Managing Attorney for Volunteer Engagement, Kathleen Legendre or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org 504.581.4043 Ext. 207.
In commemoration of the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we pay tribute to the many people who came to the aid of The Pro Bono Project in the days after Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of our beloved City. Read the Community Thank You letter.
We recount some of the many stories from the moment when we realized that both our clients and our volunteers were spread across the country, as was our entire population, right up until the present day.
While Hurricane Katrina is long gone, the aftermath still lingers on.
Read stories on our Hurricane Katrina Retrospective page.
CLE Credit for Pro Bono Hours
Read about the new rule taking effect on May 1, 2015 in the latest from CityBusiness.
Congratulations to Adams and Reese attorneys, Martin Stern, Jeff Richardson and Ron Sholes, retired Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Harry T. Lemmon and Louisiana Appleseed for their combined efforts to move this proposal forward.
Read the entire rule.
Committed to Justice: Leah Chase, Honorary Chair, JFAB 2017
We know her best as one of New Orleans’ iconic chefs. She is often referred to as the "Queen of Creole Cuisine" - and there is so much more to discover about Chef Leah Chase.
Chef Leah, along with husband, Dooky, was also at the heart of the Civil Rights Movement in New Orleans.Attorneys, such as Thurgood Marshall, Revius Ortique, Jr., Ernest “Dutch” Morial and A. P. Tureaud were among the many leaders conferring about civil rights issues in the upstairs meeting rooms of Dooky Chase's Restaurant.
Martin Luther King, Jr. and a cadre of Freedom Riders met at the restaurant with New Orleans and Baton Rouge civil rights leaders to discuss the Baton Rouge Bus Boycott as a model their Freedom Riders campaign that began in Montgomery, AL bus station.
With this history as a backdrop, there is little question that Chef Leah is an ideal Honorary Chair for The Pro Bono Project’s (TPBP) 29th Annual Justice For All Ball (JFAB). Who knows the fight for justice better than Leah Chase?
“We are honored to have Mrs. Chase as our Honorary Chair this year. Her work, along with so many others during the 1960s, cracked open the long-closed doors of justice and civil rights for African-Americans and others.
"She is one of the few remaining living legends — a gem — of the Civil Rights Movement. There is no doubt that she can relate to The Project’s mission of helping those in need of civil legal services,” said JFAB Committee Chair, Dana Douglas, partner, Liskow & Lewis and TPBP Board member.
Bringing People Together
One of the hallmarks of Chef Leah’s life and career is her ability to bring people together – over great food – to tackle issues large and small.
Dooky Chase’s Restaurant was one of the only places where black and white New Orleanians could meet to discuss politics, economics, law, culture, and society before desegregation.
In the 1990s, Chef Leah hosted many meals for prominent business leaders in their efforts to develop a regional economic development plan to unify the efforts of nine parishes in attracting new business to the region.
Today, her restaurant continues to serve as meeting place and has served Presidents on both sides of the aisles—including both George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
In talking about the Justice For All Ball, Chef Leah sees it as a similar stage for bringing people together.
“As you know, my family and I have always viewed the arts—culinary and otherwise—as a universal way of bringing people together. This is one of the many reasons I am so excited to support this grand affair!
"Each year, the Justice For All Ball uses fine food, art, and live music to draw hundreds of lawyers, judges and private citizens together for a worthy cause,” said Chef Leah in a letter to JFAB supporters.
More than that, she noted, “The Project provides meaningful and life-changing services to many area residents in need who, but for the fine work of exceptional people, would have no ability to navigate the judicial system. I am excited because, for many years now, The Project has helped the working poor, low-income families, children, veterans and elderly clients’ access lawyers to help resolve civil legal issues with no regard to race or creed. Their doors are open to all." *
Supporting the Disenfranchised
Chef Leah, and her late husband, Dooky, the Chase family, and Dooky Chase's Restaurant were often at the center of helping those who were neglected, forgotten or ignored. Even in a city like New Orleans, where checkerboard neighborhoods existed long before desegregation was the law, one could not cross many lines in the light of day; many doors closed to those struggling to find a better way of life. But, to the Chases, the door was and is always open.
To further their commitment to those who are disenfranchised, Leah and Dooky, created the Edgar “Dooky”, Jr. and Leah Chase Family Foundation in 2013. According to their official website, The Edgar "Dooky" Jr. and Leah Chase Family Foundation was founded to "cultivate and support historically disenfranchised organizations by making significant contributions to education, creative and culinary arts, and social justice."
"Mrs. Chase's life reflects such a commitment to the same access to justice issues that The Project's clients face every day. When someone can’t access the justice system – because they cannot afford counsel, they are not equipped to represent themselves – they are in essence frozen in time, and they can’t move forward with their life. While the Constitution guarantees the right to representation in a criminal case, it does not guarantee the same in civil matters. A lifetime of actions by Mrs. Chase, her late husband Dooky, and many others, has helped to make an organization like The Project possible,” said The Project’s Executive Director, Jennifer Rizzo-Choi.
Unique chance to secure a snapshot of history
Now, Leah Chase is bringing the Chase Family legacy to the benefit of The Pro Bono Project. In addition to serving as Honorary Chair and helping to introduce the work of The Project to a wider array of New Orleanians, Chef Leah has asked her favorite portraitist to create something special for The Project.
New Orleans-born Gustave Blache, III, whose portrait of Mrs. Chase, “Cutting Squash" hangs in the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, is currently completing a work slated as the highlight of the JFAB's live auction.
He also has pulled a limited edition of lithograph prints of Mrs. Chase’s portrait, “Pouring Oysters” of which 100 will be signed by BOTH the artist and Chef Leah for sale the night of the JFAB. A portion of the proceeds will go to The Project. Unsigned copies will also be available. [photos: Pouring Oysters & Cutting Squash] This is a unique chance for Ball attendees to acquire a one-of-a-kind original artwork and to also secure a signed copy of an iconic painting that has New Orleans ties.
Chef Leah has served celebrities and Presidents, politicians and business leaders and received more awards than we have room for in one article. At the same time, she has worked tirelessly for those who have had no place at the table.
There are so many layers to the life of Leah Chase, just like Gustave Blache’s paintings of her – she is movement, color, song, laughter, joy, and luckily for us all, still as feisty and committed as ever!!
This year's Justice For All Ball is truly a Chase Family affair. Daughter Leah Chase-Kamata will entertain guests at the Patron Party; son Edgar "Dooky" Chase, III serves on the JFAB Committee; and grandson, Edgar “Dook” Chase will offer fine cuisine from Dook’s Place. Make sure to place your bid on the Chase Family Basket!
Read more about Chef Leah Chase: Download Bio
Standing Up For Justice
Stakeholder Meeting Convenes with the
President of the American Bar Association and the
Area’s Top Legal Minds to Talk About Pro Bono Work
The Pro Bono Project brought together 60+ of the metro area’s top lawyers and jurists to meet with American Bar Association President Linda Klein and Louisiana State Bar Foundation President-Elect Valerie Bargas on Friday, April 7th to talk about how to build a stronger pro bono partnership. The group met at the Hale Boggs Federal Courthouse in the courtroom of The Honorable Jay Zainey, Judge, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana.
With Judge Zainey and The Project’s Board Chair, Caroline McSherry Dolan taking the lead, the conversation centered on how private bar attorneys can better partner with non-profits, such as The Pro Bono Project, to serve the growing number of low-income families and individuals who need civil legal problems resolved. This concern may become even more pressing if the proposed federal budget cuts to, or elimination of the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) pass in Congress.
“In 2016, The Project provided legal services to more than 2,500 low-income individuals, realizing an economic value to the community of $2.9 million dollars. Our private bar lawyer volunteers donated more than 10,000 hours and closed over 1,200 cases. We’re on track to handle at least the same number, if not more, in 2017,” said Ms. Dolan.
From The Project's Chair and Executive Director: Setting the 2017 Agenda
Building a stronger culture of pro bono within the six parishes served by The Pro Bono Project, and across the state of Louisiana sets the stage for 2017 as a year of collaboration, community, and access to justice.
At the same time, The Project will take a cue from the national dialogue on access to justice (“ATJ”) and what that means to us as individuals, and as an organization.
We are working hard to make sure that 2017 will be a year of increased volunteer recruitment and enhanced pro bono mentoring for our volunteers.
As a part of all this, we plan to use some key events to begin a larger dialogue about how all Louisiana lawyers can work with us to close the justice gap.
Dear Friends of The Pro Bono Project ...
As 2016 winds down, change is in the air – change that is sure to affect our organization, our volunteers, and our clients in the new year.
Of most pressing concern are possible cuts to civil legal aid funding beginning in 2017. Because of likely funding shortfalls and potential changes to federal policy, our clients will struggle more to access justice; and worse yet, they may be denied the services they need to provide shelter and food for their families.
One thing is certain: our clients will continue to turn to The Pro Bono Project to help them navigate the judicial system, and we will do our best to give them the help they need.
Every year hundreds of lawyers generously donate their time to The Pro Bono Project to meet the needs of underserved Louisiana residents grappling with complex and costly civil legal issues. Those issues are as diverse as the clients themselves, and the lawyers who step up to help them are true local social justice champions.
Without The Project, many of our fellow neighbors would not have access to justice. DONATE NOW
From Our Executive Director: Serving Our Clients
I’m still processing what happened on Election Night, and I am sure that you are too.
There’s been a nervous buzz in the legal services community about what the changes in Washington could mean for our legal work. It is possible that there may be drastic cuts to legal aid funding lines.
There also could be some policy changes put into effect that impact our clients’ lives – whether that means cuts to welfare programs, access to healthcare coverage, or other basic rights.
While a lot of that is still uncertain, what is clear is that social justice work is more important now than ever.
Our clients rely on pro bono civil legal representation to help them access justice and the civil court system. They don’t have the money or resources to afford paid counsel. Our clients depend on pro bono representation to help them obtain a custody order or a divorce, resolve an estate matter or avoid deportation to a country swept up in violence and turmoil.
Pro bono lawyers can have a tremendous impact on someone’s life – their volunteer commitment can literally alter the course of a client’s life.
Watch Jenny and Seth on WDSU-TV, Saturday Morning News, September 10, 2016
Sponsorships are still available that include tickets to the spectacular Patron Party, planned by the Honorary Co-Chairs Gary Solomon, Jr. and Seth Bloom, Esq., and produced By Solomon Group. Check out the JFAB 2016 page for tickets and sponsorship and other information.
Register for and preview the auction items at: JFAB 2016 Auction