As the Utah State Bar prepares for the upcoming American Bar Association’s (“ABA”) National Pro Bono Celebration October 25-31, 2009,1 I would like to highlight a few of the pro bono and service opportunities offered by the Young Lawyers Division (“YLD”). If you would like to get involved in these or other YLD activities, please visit www.utahyounglawyers.org or contact Michelle Allred at email@example.com.
Tuesday Night Bar
Since October of 1988, the YLD has coupled with the Utah State Bar to provide a free legal advice program to help members of the community to determine their legal rights on a variety of issues. Each year, approximately 1100 individuals meet with a volunteer attorney for a brief one-on-one consultation at no cost. Tuesday Night Bar is held the first four Tuesdays of each month between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. at the Utah Law & Justice Center, 645 South 200 East, Salt Lake. Volunteers are also needed for a Spanish-language clinic held on the first and third Wednesday of each month at the Sorenson Multicultural Center, 855 West 1300 South, Salt Lake, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Wills for Heroes
The Wills for Heroes program was predicated upon the alarming fact that an overwhelmingly large number of first responders – 80 to 90 percent – do not have simple wills or any type of estate planning documentation, although they regularly risk their lives in the line of duty. The
objective of the Wills for Heroes program is to provide free estate planning documents to firefighters, police officers, paramedics, corrections and probation officers, and other first
responders and their spouses or domestic partners. The Wills for Heroes program involves attorneys and first responder organizations in both metropolitan and rural communities
throughout the state. Visit www.utahyounglawyers.org to see the calendar and locations of upcoming volunteer opportunities.
The Choose Law Program is focused on educating students from at-risk backgrounds about the legal profession. Through partnerships with several local high schools, YLD attorneys have an
opportunity to meet with students and highlight the importance of law in society and the diverse careers that a law degree can provide. The most important part of the program is the emphasis
on the importance of education and the instruction and mentoring that the students receive from the volunteer attorneys.
Fight Against Domestic Violence
The YLD is teaming up with the ABA in the fight against domestic violence. The YLD has held a toy drive for children in domestic violence shelters, a professional clothing drive for victims of
domestic violence, and is in the process of planning “A Mile In Her Shoes: A Walk Against Domestic Violence,” a community-wide walk to raise awareness of domestic violence issues. All proceeds raised will be donated to domestic violence shelters in the Salt Lake area. Visit www.utahyounglawyers.org for additional details. Opportunities are also available to represent domestic violence victims in hearings under the Utah Cohabitant Abuse Act.
The YLD provides several mentoring opportunities, including programs to provide mentoring to new lawyers entering the legal profession, law students, and high school students. Visit
www.utahyounglawyers.org for additional details.
Needs of Children
The YLD will continue to hold toy drives and clothing drives for children in state custody or otherwise in need. In addition, the YLD will, once again, sponsor Private Attorney Guardian
ad Litem Training for attorneys who want to become eligible to work as a private Guardian Ad Litem (“GAL”). A private GAL is a court-appointed attorney who represents the best interests
of children in proceedings involving custody and parent time disputes. Visit www.utahyounglawyers.org for additional details.
The Cinderella Project is a relatively new project aimed at providing low-income and disadvantaged high school aged young women with new or gently worn formal dresses and
accessories to allow them to participate in school activities that they would otherwise be unable to attend, specifically the high school prom and other formal activities. The YLD
volunteers work with the community to receive donations of special occasion attire, and then work with the individual students to provide assistance and mentoring to the young girls.
Ultimately, the program seeks not only to boost self-esteem and provide positive role models for young women who have succeeded in the face of overwhelming adversity, but also works
to remove social barriers and promote inclusiveness and diversity in the community.
The YLD is beginning a new program this year aimed at assisting individuals who are preparing to take the Naturalization Test and become U.S. citizens. Volunteer YLD attorneys will assist in
tutoring individuals on the fundamental concepts of American democracy and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, including topics such as basic U.S. history and civics.
1. The annual National Pro Bono Celebration is scheduled for October 25 through
31, 2009. Sponsored by the ABA, the celebration is a coordinated national effort to
showcase the great difference that pro bono lawyers make to the nation, its system
of justice, its communities, and most of all, to the clients they serve. The week is also
dedicated to the quest for more pro bono volunteers to meet the ever-growing legal
needs of this country’s most vulnerable citizens.