June 2011

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Baker Donelson’s Chattanooga office pro bono work was so nice, we had to give the award twice! Well, jointly really, to John McGehee and Heidi Hoffecker, recipients of our Chattanooga 2011 Pro Bono Award for their work for the Orange Grove Center, a private non-profit organization serving adults and children with intellectual disabilities. Heidi and John together worked nearly 200 hours over the last year on contested conservatorships for clients and their families, including one that had to be taken to trial. This work is very emotional and often involves dealing with extremely difficult situations. Their work carries on a five decade tradition of Baker Donelson service to the Orange Grove Center, which was begun by one of the Center’s founders who was then an attorney in our Chattanooga office. (more…)

As my friends at many great pro bono legal services organizations would tell you, one of the many obstacles they face in reaching low income people in need of help is geography – often, a large proportion of a state’s low income population live in rural areas with few lawyers and no ability to access the services offered by an organization operating in a distant urban area. Many of these folks may have a legal question or issue that would be relatively easy for an attorney to resolve by providing some good advice or pointing the individual in the right direction. The difficult part is simply in getting the two together. A perfect opportunity for internet technology, and a few tech savvy minds, to work their magic. (more…)

Some people just get it. In Baker Donelson’s Birmingham office, one person who really gets it when it comes to pro bono is Kevin Garrison. Over the last couple of years, Kevin’s representation of homeless and indigent clients expanded to include work with a team of attorneys representing individuals wrongfully incarcerated by small towns in the metro Birmingham area simply because they were too poor to pay fines for such minor infractions as traffic violations and petty misdemeanors. If you missed our earlier post on the shocking truths about debtors prisons in Alabama, click here to check it out. Initially, Kevin partnered with a solo criminal defense attorney to represent these individuals in federal class action litigation aimed at changing an unjust system. Late last year, that attorney was elected to the local criminal court bench, meaning a growing role for Kevin. (more…)

In a previous piece here on One Good Turn, I wrote about the vicious cycle of ballooning fines and repeated imprisonment that often afflicts poor and homeless people as a result of one minor infraction from which the rest of us could walk away unscathed. Kathlyn Perez, a Baker Donelson associate in New Orleans, just had a first hand experience with these issues while helping a homeless client to a happy conclusion. (more…)

Each year, Baker Donelson recognizes our attorneys whose dedication to pro bono service inspires the rest of us. Our Atlanta office is fortunate to have a committed pro bono enthusiast in Valerie King, recipient of Baker Donelson’s 2011 Atlanta Pro Bono Award.  Valerie’s tireless commitment to providing legal services to non-profit organizations has benefited numerous clients, through both direct work with non-profits and through support and advocacy for organizations dedicated to pro bono services. (more…)

Last week I had one of the really fun days in my working life. Okay, to be honest, there are quite a few fun days involved in my job. Not so many people have the privilege of being responsible for something as fulfilling as helping lawyers do pro bono, and I’m grateful for that opportunity every day. But I feel especially fulfilled on this particular occasion every year – the day we announce the winners of Baker Donelson’s annual pro bono awards. It’s wonderful to know the terrific and important work that is being done by lawyers all around the firm, and to be able to share that good news with all of their colleagues. Today, I want to share with everyone else the amazing and generous pro bono efforts of Baker Donelson’s 2011 Firm-wide Pro Bono Award winner, Sherry Dolan. (more…)