2013 NFPA Pro Bono Conference
This conference was held concurrently with the 2013 Convention. You can download the slides from the Paralegal Student Involvement in Pro Bono presentation. (PDF)
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
~ Margaret Mead
NFPA's Pro Bono Coordinator for 2012-2013 is Mary McLaughlin, RP. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Duties and Responsibilities
NFPA®'s Pro Bono Co-Coordinators are responsible for researching and reviewing pro bono programs throughout the country in order to determine the types of programs available, the roles and responsibilities of paralegals in said programs, jurisdictional laws and rules governing the roles and responsibilities of paralegals involved in said programs; and new ways for paralegals to become involved in the delivery of pro bono services.
Additional duties and responsibilities include
Increasing individual, association, and overall national awareness of the importance of pro bono services by submitting articles regarding paralegal involvement as well as overall trends in the national pro bono sector.
Assisting member associations with the development of pro bono programs.
Serving as a liaison for NFPA® with pro bono committees of allied legal professional organizations, such as the American Bar Association, in order to develop communications, promote paralegal involvement in pro bono programs, and share information.
Assisting the Vice President and Director of Profession Development as necessary and appropriate to respond to inquiries and provide information concerning pro bono programs.
Coordinating, as well as presenting information and materials, at the NFPA® Pro Bono Workshop during the NFPA® Convention (at the request of the NFPA® Board of Directors).
Serving as the liaison to the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service which includes attending Committee meetings (organized four times a year, including once during the ABA Equal Justice Conference).
Pro Bono Workshop at 2012 Convention
The Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program was the highlight of the workshop. Download the handouts. (PDF)
2011 Pro Bono Conference Recap
On Friday, October 14, 2011, the NFPA Pro Bono Committee broke tradition and held its first Pro Bono Conference during the NFPA’s annual convention in Bloomington, Minnesota. In the past, the Pro Bono Conference was held in conjunction with the ABA’s Equal Justice Conference. Representatives from over 35 NFPA member associations signed up to attend as well as several paralegal students and unaffiliated paralegals. The conference, an all day event, consisted of three presentations and a panel discussion.
The morning session started off with a welcome from Therese Prater, NFPA Vice President. Following that, Judith Bardsley, NFPA Pro Bono Coordinator and PAP Pro Bono Committee Chair made a presentation about how to start or rejuvenate a paralegal pro bono program. Some of the topics discussed included: how to network to improve your pro bono program, understanding who your pro bono volunteers are, assessing your pro bono environment, thinking creatively to resolve challenges, as well as the difference between pro bono work and community service. Ms. Bardsley concluded her session by presenting a “Volunteers Make All the Difference” pin to all the conference participants to show appreciation for all the work they have done promoting paralegals and pro bono work.
Following Ms. Bardsley, Erika Applebaum, Executive Director of the Minnesota Innocence Project, delivered a presentation on the work Innocence Projects do across the nation. Ms. Applebaum provided some compelling examples of how people are wrongfully convicted, the unreliability of various methods of perpetrator identification and some of the unscientific practices of gathering, processing and storing of evidence. Particularly captivating was the video she showed that told the story of a man that was wrongfully convicted of a rape as a young adult. This young man spent over a decade in prison before DNA evidence exonerated him with the assistance of a local Innocence Project. At the conclusion of Ms. Applebaum’s presentation, the conference broke for lunch.
Returning from lunch, participants were treated to a highly interactive discussion on pro bono ethics for paralegals by Eric Cooperstein, Esq. Mr. Cooperstein engaged the audience by presenting the issue of ethics and pro bono work through a series of potential real life scenarios. The scenarios covered topics such as client confidentiality, the unauthorized practice of law, conflict checks and the use of social media. He asked participants for their opinion on how they would handle the ethical dilemmas and then followed with his advice on the proper way to resolve each ethical issue.
The conference concluded with a panel discussion on paralegals and pro bono work. The panel members were : Kelley Chaney, RP, Oregon Paralegal Association’s Vice President and pro Bono Chair; Pamela Ramirez Graves, Minnesota Paralegal Association’s Former Pro Bono and Community Service Chair; Teresa Scharf, Paralegal Association of Central Ohio’s Pro Bono Chair; Judy Stouffer, RP, Region IV representative, NFPA Pro Bono Committee member and Judith Bardsley. Christine Flynn, NPFA Pro Bono Co-coordinator and ABA Pro Bono Liaison moderated the panel. Topics discussed by the panel included the different kinds of pro bono opportunities local paralegal associations are participating in, challenges with participating in pro bono work as well as participants asking questions and sharing their successful pro bono experiences. The panel discussion ended with an announcement that the NFPA Pro Bono Committee was planning to offer live webinars on pro bono related topics in 2012.
The conference was well received with many participants indicating they were glad they made the time to attend.