Monday, November 25, 2013

Central District of California Bankruptcy Court Honors Pro Bono Volunteers

As a participant in the American Bar Association’s National Pro Bono Celebration, held the week of October 20, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California honored 307 pro bono attorneys, students, and paralegals who assisted self-represented parties in the district throughout the year.  An annual event, National Pro Bono Celebration Week is held during the third week of October and is promoted by the ABA’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service.  Since 2011, the court has participated by publishing an Honor Roll listing the names of volunteers, which are submitted by the pro bono organizations that serve visitors to each of the court’s five divisions.  This year, the court’s Pro Se Committee added to this tradition by hosting its first Celebration of Pro Bono Volunteers, made possible by support from the Central District’s Attorney Admission Fund.

The celebration, organized by the court’s Pro Se Committee, included an afternoon reception at the Roybal Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse on October 24.  During the event, Chief Bankruptcy Judge Peter H. Carroll spoke about the difference the volunteers make in the lives of those who can least afford access to the legal system.  Among those who attended the event to personally express their appreciation to the volunteers were Bankruptcy Judge Maureen A. Tighe, chair of the Pro Se Committee; Bankruptcy Judges Julia W. Brand, Catherine E. Bauer, Thomas B. Donovan, Sandra R. Klein, and Vincent P. Zurzolo; and Clerk of Court/Executive Officer Kathleen J. Campbell.  Copies of the 2012 Pro Se Annual Report were provided, along with Celebrate Pro Bono certificates for each of the volunteers. 

The Honor Roll is published on the Court’s website, as well as a letter from Chief Judge Peter H. Carroll acknowledging the extraordinary efforts of the volunteers and the positive impact they have on not only the parties themselves, but also the Court and the public.  Self-represented filings continue to comprise approximately one quarter of the Court’s total filings, even as the number of total filings decreases.  The assistance of pro bono volunteers streamlines these cases, which are often delayed due to the difficulty parties meet trying to complete their cases without attorney representation.  The benefits of pro bono assistance are far-reaching, because they allow the Court to operate with greater efficiency and enhance access to justice and service to the public.

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