Westmoreland County Bar Association wants to expand pool of pro bono attorneys
Private attorneys who belong to the Westmoreland County Bar Association could be required to donate more time to indigent clients.
The Westmoreland County Bar Association Foundation wants to expand a pro bono program to provide legal services to the needy. Pro bono, which means for the public good, refers to professional services provided for free or at a greatly reduced cost.
“This is the right thing to do,” said David Millstein, a Youngwood lawyer who was appointed last month to serve as the foundation's first executive director of pro bono services. “Part of being a lawyer is an obligation to offer services on a pro bono basis. It's the bone marrow of lawyering.”
The bar association has moved in recent years toward accentuating its pro bono services. The program occupies office space at the county courthouse in Greensburg and is staffed by two full-time employees.
Lawyers who volunteer their time handle landlord-tenant cases, custody and divorce issues, as well as other civil court filings. Criminal casework is not part of the program.
Clients receive either free legal representation or pay a reduced rate of about $40 per hour, based on their financial situation.
The bar's program was designed to augment services offered by Laurel Legal Services, which relies on private contributions and government funding to provide civil representation for low-income residents.
The agency, which has offices in Greensburg, provides services to clients in Armstrong, Cambria, Clarion, Indiana, Jefferson and Westmoreland counties.
Last year, about 70 lawyers participated in the bar association's pro bono program.
Millstein said he wants a stable of as many as 500 lawyers handling civil, bankruptcy and domestic cases for low-income residents.
“I think we can do a lot better,” Millstein said.
To that end, he has proposed a requirement that all bar association members handle a pro bono case.
That proposal could be considered by the bar association this week and might be met with some resistance, said association President John Greiner.
“I do pro bono work, and I believe it is important for members of our community to give back to those who are less fortunate. I think we would like to see it broadened,” Greiner said.
But lawyers may not be ready to make bar association membership contingent on volunteer work.
“I think some don't like to be told they have to do it. We're looking at ways to include some requirement,” Greiner said.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 2 Hempfield Area students charged with sexting
- Land costs for New Stanton turnpike interchange project reach $4.2M
- Hempfield man dies in single-vehicle accident
- Murrysville woman apologizes for scholarship fund theft
- Police seek public help with East Huntingdon store thefts
- Donors’ generosity allows Clairview School girls to get fancy for prom
- Jeannette police say 5 people caught trespassing on grounds
- Hempfield bicyclist who brought rock, knives into court office charged
- 2 Democrats battle for Hempfield nomination for supervisor
- Greensburg YMCA begins long-awaited porch renovation job
- Electrical malfunction blamed for April 17 fire that destroyed home in Mt. Pleasant Township