Since July of 2009, Chief Legal Officer Linton Carney has worked quietly behind the scenes at The Pro Bono Project, managing the caseload, volunteers, interns and clients that pass through The Project’s doors annually.
Linton has mentored staff and volunteer attorneys, offered visiting law students a unique perspective on private bar and public interest law, and in general, has nurtured the many legal professionals that give their time and talent to the thousands of clients served by The Project. He has shared his legal and advocacy experience freely and asked nothing in return except for the pleasure of doing work that is so vitally needed in the six parishes surrounding New Orleans. (See some of Linton's moment in the photo gallery below.)
Linton recently received the 2016 LSBA President’s Access to Justice award at the Louisiana State Bar Association Pro Bono awards ceremony. The honor acknowledged his seven years of work in public interest law for The Pro Bono Project, eight years as executive director of AIDSLaw Louisiana, and his membership in LSBA’s Access To Justice Committee. The ceremony was held at the Louisiana Supreme Court on May 24.
“As the inaugural recipient of the President’s Access to Justice Award, Linton is acknowledged by his peers and colleagues for his ‘lifelong commitment and dedication to ensuring access to justice for Louisiana citizens.’ They could not have chosen a worthier representative to honor,” said The Project’s Executive Director, Jenny Rizzo-Choi.
A 1978 graduate of LSU Law, Linton began his career in private practice for Monroe & Lemann, after having served as law clerk to The Honorable W. Eugene Davis, U.S. District Judge, Western District of Louisiana and The Honorable John A. Dixon, Associate Justice, Louisiana Supreme Court. While he enjoyed his years in private practice, Linton felt that he wanted to do more, and have a greater effect on people’s lives – and so began his journey into public interest law.
“It was very different – in private practice, we are always chasing clients – in public interest law we are always chasing funding,” says Linton.
As a private bar attorney, he worked in litigation, commercial bankruptcy and historic preservation; as a public interest lawyer, he’s served the AIDS population, the elderly, children and families, immigrants, veterans and the working poor from all walks of life. His advocacy for those in need is surpassed only by his deep knowledge of the intricacies of the law and his ability to bring out the best in his fellow lawyers, paralegals, law students and other legal professionals.
“What I have loved most, and will miss dearly, in doing this work is that I have witnessed the Bar at its best: lawyers and other legal professionals using their skills, their knowledge, their time to right the wrongs of society. To see this side of the legal profession is a gift – a reward in itself. All of our volunteers have lots of things on their plates – they come here to give freely in order to help those less fortunate.
“Ours is an adversarial profession - we all know and socialize with each other – we go to court to battle. Only in the context of pro bono service does the adversarial nature of the law fall away – here we work together for a greater good,” he notes.
He’s especially enjoyed his time with young lawyers and law students helping to shape how they will view the law as they mature in their practice. It’s been a special way of giving back much of what he has received through his many years of service on both the private and public side of the law.
After Linton works through his final weeks at The Project, he will leave at the end of July to pursue his love of travel with his longtime partner and colleague, attorney Jay Welch. He offers these parting words, “Don’t turn down any opportunities – you never know where they will take you, who you will meet and what they will bring into your life. Find good colleagues to work with and let your talent and passion for the law take you where it will.”
The Pro Bono Project’s Board, Staff, volunteers and clients wish Linton all the best as he exits our stage and begins a new life chapter. He has a special place in our hearts and we hope he won’t stay away too long.