The American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service is making plans for a national celebration of pro bono services next week, October 25 – 31, 2015. The ABA wants to recognize the valuable pro bono contributions made by lawyers across the country. Through their generosity of time and skills, pro bono volunteers can enhance efforts to increase access to justice for all across the country.
Here in the East Bay, the Alameda County Law Library, too, envisions a future in which all people have effective access to justice. To bring about this vision, the Library provides access to information required for participation in the legal system, resolving legal disputes, engaging in commerce, and tending to personal affairs and academic projects. Another means for ACLL to provide legal guidance to Alameda County citizens is through the Lawyers in the Library program.
Lawyers in the Library
The Alameda County Lawyers in the Library program is a countywide service coordinated by the ACLL and staffed by volunteer attorneys. Volunteers provide free consultation and referrals on a wide variety of issues including landlord tenant disputes, probate matters, employment problems, and other general consumer issues. These consultations take place at public libraries (including ACLL’s Oakland and Hayward locations) on a rotating basis throughout the month. The Lawyers in the Library program is an important step in the Library’s mission of providing access to justice to its community.
Since ACLL took ownership of the program, five new library location sessions have been added – OPL’s Brookfield branch; Civic Center Branch, Livermore PL; Downtown Oakland Senior Center; Elmhurst branch, OPL; and Melrose Branch, OPL. In 2014, 1449 people were seen by the volunteers. So far in 2015, 1347 people have been able to speak to an attorney. There are 40-45 active volunteers at 35 locations holding 44 sessions (providing 88 legal advice hours) per month.
Thank you to all the current volunteers! We can always use more volunteers and other “libraries” or locations to host the volunteers. If you are interested in learning more about getting involved, please contact the program’s coordinator, Nicole, at firstname.lastname@example.org.