All they ask for is what’s fair and just. And needed assistance from special lawyers, lawyers that they could not otherwise afford, to make sure their rights are protected.
Jodi has congestive heart failure and her husband Bobby has diabetes. Because of confusing and bureaucratic paperwork they were denied their rightful benefits from Medicaid and the resulting medical bills threatened their ability to remain independent. One lawyer helped them restore their benefits and made it possible for them to be reimbursed for money they had already spent. Today they have the dignity of living their lives under the roof that has been theirs for the last 30 years. There are thousands of seniors in Nevada like the Jodi and Bobby – doing their best to enjoy the time they’ve earned from a lifetime of loving their families and contributing to their communities.
Writing a check is important, but it’s not enough. If all you do is write a check then you’re missing the most important thing you can do as a lawyer.
Take a moment to remember sitting in law school when you imagined doing something remarkable as a lawyer. I can tell you from personal experience that helping a family keep their house, allowing a senior citizen to live with dignity, or finding a child a loving home are just a few of the remarkable experiences that you can achieve by giving of your time as well as your skills. Let’s agree that we get tremendous satisfaction from serving our paying clients, but this work, the work we imagined as young law students, is a special calling. I believe in the deepest part of me that this work is calling you.
I will never reject the cause of the defenseless or oppressed.
Upon taking the oath at the beginning of a career in law each attorney makes a promise. Those words were put in the pledge because they represent what is fair and just and they were intended to reinforce that even those who could not afford a lawyer would not be denied justice.
Despite our best attempts, our system of law is difficult to manage without a lawyer. I believe leading by example is the charge of every judge, and in that spirit I would challenge each of my fellow jurists to encourage attorneys to do pro bono work. It harkens back to the canons we swore to uphold: ‘we will promote the fair administration of justice.’ Encouraging lawyers to represent those who cannot afford a lawyer is the essence of that charge.