Private law firms can easily assist in pro bono work (done without charge) and often without going to court, a leading national practitioner of public interest law told a University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa audience of about 300 attorneys, elected officials and members of the general public.
Danny Greenberg, keynote speaker of the recent 2019 Access to Justice Conference at the William S. Richardson School of Law, noted that private firms have numerous ways to provide legal services to those who are unable to afford them.
“You don’t only have to go to court to help the public service community,” said Greenberg, special counsel for pro bono initiatives at the Schulte Roth and Zabel law firm in New York City.
He suggested that law firms with special expertise could provide a wide range of meaningful assistance, ranging from setting up websites to overseeing rental contracts for office space.
Greenberg has a long career in public interest law, including a decade as president and attorney in chief for the Legal Aid Society of New York. It was during his 1994 to 2004 tenure there that he began asking law firms for help based on their firm specialties. It often resulted in the whole firm becoming involved in assistance.
“We put the private bar together with the public service community,” he said. “As lawyers, if we forget we’re human beings, it’s wrong.”
The all-day conference explored issues such as access to justice for immigrants, rights of the homeless and expanding civil justice for prisoners.
—By Beverly Creamer