ABA pro bono event debates US funds cuts

THE FUTURE of federal funding for legal services in the US is at the top of the agenda for US pro bono lawyers as congressional leaders meet to discuss trimming costs.

The 11th American Bar Association conference in Nash-ville next month will focus on how to respond to the likelihood of cuts in federal legal services, says Steven Scudder, ABA staff counsel at the Centre for Pro Bono.

Around 600 lawyers will attend the conference, the only national gathering on issues related to the delivery by volunteer lawyers of civil legal services to poor clients.

Among other seminars and workshops, 'Sounding the call to justice' will look at trends in law firm pro bono work, overcoming barriers to pro bono participation and the effective co-ordination between firms and pro bono programmes. Other programmes include pro bono advocacy on behalf of children, advocacy for the homeless, training for pro bono coordinators and a session looking at the basics of operating a pro bono programme.

“Pro bono is on the rise in America,” says Scudder.

UK lawyer Tony Michaelson Yates, who is co-ordinating attendance for British lawyers, says the time is now right for them to embrace the concept of pro bono work.