As we come to the close of our 25th year of service to the residents of New Orleans and the six parishes we support, we want to take advantage of the nonrecurring opportunity such an occasion provides to reassess the mission and accomplishments of The Pro Bono Project.
Founded a quarter-century ago to provide access to the civil justice system to those who otherwise would have been unable to afford a lawyer, The Project is one of our most enduring civic resources. At year-end, as we reflect on what it has achieved, we can take pride in our organization's history and impact on our community.
Over the 25 years, we've successfully handled more than 25,000 cases, using over 200,000 recorded hours of volunteer time from thousands of attorneys and other professionals with a value of over $70 million in legal services provided.
You have played an enormous role in this success through your generosity and commitment to pro bono, and we offer you our thanks and gratitude for your unwavering support.
No matter how much we think "the numbers" capture the value of our work-the true value of what The Project does cannot be accounted for by numbers, percentages, awards, or landmark cases.
Instead, it is best represented by The Project's ability to respond to the needs of the community and to take appropriate actions to ensure that all of our citizens have access to the civil justice system.
To that end, 2011 has been a year marked by collaboration with other local, regional, and national legal service organizations to address three critical areas in need of The Project's expertise:
- Post-Katrina Housing Issues - The Greater New Orleans Foundation funded a grant to The Project, along with partner agencies Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, Louisiana Appleseed, and Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law to address the on-going systemic title-clearing roadblocks faced by those who lost their homes to Katrina. With this funding, we not only are able to provide pro bono civil legal assistance to homeowners, but to educate them and attorneys alike about their options.
- Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill - A collaborative effort between The Project, the Mississippi Center for Justice, and other state and regional legal service organizations has enabled us to share information important to victims of the spill and to better address their unmet civil legal needs. As a result of this collaborative, The Project was able to add a staff attorney dedicated solely to resolving oil spill-related issues for pro bono clients.
- CDC Self-Help Resource Center - The Project plays an integral role in recruiting volunteers from area law firms and law schools to staff the newly-created Self-Help Resource Center at the Orleans Civil District Court, which helps pro se litigants access the civil justice system on their own.
These collaborative partnerships represent a natural evolution of proactive leadership and growth, which benefits The Project's dual priorities of serving the needs of our clients and of our volunteers. They are the culmination of 25 years of relationship-building efforts at the local, regional, and national levels.
The value of this collaboration and The Project's continued ability to respond to the needs of our community cannot be underestimated. The Project's model represents a good investment of dollars as we leverage the time and talent of highly-skilled attorneys in the private bar, and support them with the critical expertise of our staff in key legal areas that reflect the ever-expanding civil legal needs of our community.
Our results clearly speak for themselves. We are making a profound difference in the lives of our constituents and, at the same time, enriching the experience of our volunteers and other supporters.
When those in need of civil legal services knock on our door, we always have found a way to open it. You are one of our keys.
We know that you receive appeals from many worthy organizations seeking to rebuild and revitalize our beloved Louisiana. We also know that you are a special friend of The Pro Bono Project, making it possible for us to keep our doors open and provide our clients with the important access to justice they both need and deserve.
As we open the door to our next 25 years, we ask that you donate as generously as you can during this holiday season to help us continue to provide access for all those in need. All donations are tax-deductible to the extent the law allows. We thank you in advance for your support.
Wishing you and yours a Happy Holiday Season,
Rachel Piercey Norm Rubenstein
Executive Director Chair, Resource Development Committee
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