Chairman's New Year Message

Dear Friends of The Pro Bono Project:

Friends often tease me about being change-resistant—about relishing tradition and order to a fault.  But even I acknowledge the inevitability of change and the potential it creates. 

Norm Rubenstein Chair 2016

Norm Rubenstein
Chair 2016

As I become the 2016 chair of The Pro Bono Project, which I am delighted to say celebrates 30 years of service to our community this year, The Project faces unprecedented change: Rachel Piercey, The Project’s Executive Director since its founding in 1986, stepped down at the end of 2015 to pursue a host of long-postponed interests. 

As well, Linton Carney, who has served ably as The Project’s Chief Legal Officer for the past seven years, will be retiring at the end of the first quarter of 2016.

Rachel and Linton each have left an indelible mark on The Project, and I know that all of you join me in thanking them for their extraordinary service. They also leave gigantic shoes to fill, a process we already have begun. 

The Board’s Executive Committee has engaged a search firm to help us find the best candidates for our vacancies, and we are committed to moving expeditiously to ensure the effective recruiting of new leadership. 

The members of the Executive Committee—Jan Hayden of Baker Donelson, Chris Ralston of Phelps Dunbar, Wendy Hickok Robinson of Entergy, Bob Kutcher of Chopin, Wagar, Richard & Kutcher, and our Immediate Past Chair, the indefatigable Carole Cukell Neff of Sessions Fishman, and I have made that successful transition our highest priority. Just as importantly, we have also taken steps to ensure that our dedicated and talented Project staff members have access to us and get the necessary direction to continue the extraordinary work they do on a daily basis.

Rest assured that the search for new Project leadership has not prevented us from identifying important goals we hope to achieve in 2016. 

One priority for this year’s Board is to update The Project’s strategic plan, which calls for identifying new sources of institutional and individual funding to supplement what you generously provide so that The Project can fulfill its mission to provide the underserved in our six-parish radius with the critical civil legal services they otherwise could not afford.

Another is to seek new ways for lawyers and other volunteers to find engagement with and satisfaction in being a part of The Project’s important work, and to help make pro bono service even more widespread in the Gulf South.

And it wouldn’t be a new calendar year at The Project if we weren’t already planning this year’s Justice for All Ball, the annual celebration where those who provide service and financial support to The Project come together for extraordinary food, fabulous music, and a chance to share in the pride that comes with doing something to help those who need it, and to strengthen our community at the same time.

If we haven’t met, I hope we will have that opportunity at this year’s Ball in September, if not before. Because we welcome all who would like to help The Project open doors for those who need its services, I hope we will have a chance to work together long before we congregate at that event in the Audubon Tea Room. I welcome your ideas, feedback, and support for The Project. The easiest and fastest way to reach me is by email: Norm Rubenstein

Meanwhile, a healthy, happy, and successful new year to you all!




Norm Rubenstein
Chair, Board of Directors
The Pro Bono Project