This year’s Justice For All Ball celebrates the event’s 30th year. The Louisiana Bar Foundation created The Pro Bono Project in 1986 to meet the growing need to provide civil legal services for those within our community who could not afford to hire a lawyer. Their idea was to tap a previously underutilized resource: the local private bar. When presented with this idea, the private bar’s enthusiastic response transformed the idea into a reality.
Pulling the legal community together, the New Orleans Legal Assistance Corporation, a seed grant from the American Bar Association, and in-kind services from the Louisiana Bar Foundation provided the seed money to get The Project off the ground. In September 1989, the very first Justice For All Ball opened the door for private donations to support the fledgling organization. (See Our History)
Now at 30 years, The Justice For All Ball provides one-third of The Project’s annual budget. It continues to bring the legal and business community together in a social setting to recognize the ever-growing need for pro bono civil legal services.
In celebration of this milestone, over the next few weeks, we'll recognize some of the people and stories which make the Justice For All Ball such a special occasion for everyone. Beginning with two remembrances from past JFAB committee chairs, we'll post future stories on the website and our Facebook page.
The Ball That Never Was
I was the Chair of the JFAB in 2005 when Katrina hit our city. Our Committee did all the necessary work leading up to the Ball, all the money was in, and all we needed to do was enjoy the Ball itself. Then Katrina struck the area, and the Ball was canceled. People’s response was great - no one wanted their money back because the Ball never occurred.
When we were starting to plan for the 2006 Ball, I asked Rachel [then Executive Director] who was going to be the Chair of the JFAB for that year. Much to my surprise, she said, with a big smile on her face, that I was because I never finished the job since we didn’t actually have the Ball. Oh well … so I had the “pleasure” of being Ball Chair for two years in a row.
- Mark Surprenant, Chair
17th Annual JFAB, 2005 and 18th Annual JFAB, 2006
As the 2017 Ball Chair, I wanted to choose someone as Honorary Chair who had championed access to justice throughout their life. We were honored to have Mrs. Leah Chase accept our invitation to serve as Honorary Chair and to herald her lifelong work with the theme of “Hungry for Justice.”
Most people know Mrs. Chase because of her work in the culinary arts. Who hasn’t had a meal or two at Dooky Chase’s Restaurant? But few know the role she played early in her career as a chef of opening the doors of the restaurant to the men and women working to bring equality and justice to all during the Civil Rights Movement.
Since those early years, Mrs. Chase has continued her efforts to bring dignitaries from both sides of the proverbial table and ordinary people from all walks of life together for the last several decades to advance the dialogue and work for equal justice under the law. Mrs. Chase and her work epitomize the goals and mission of The Pro Bono Project to assist those in need of access to legal services, and I was delighted to Chair the 2017 Justice For All Ball alongside this this incredible New Orleans Gem.
- Dana Douglas, Chair
29th Annual JFAB, 2017
Looking For Stories …
Whether you're a past JFAB Committee or Honorary Chair, worked on a committee, or just had fun at one of the 29 previous JFABs, let us hear from you. We'll continue to post stories on our website and on our Facebook page. If you have pictures, be sure to include one or two appropriate to your tale. Please send your stories to CC Kahr.
Celebrate JFAB 30 with us – purchase tickets and sponsorships at JFAB 2018 or call the JFAB Hotline at 504.581.3480.