Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tampa Bay Area Pro Bono Lawyers Mean Business

By Sarah Lahlou-Amine and Traci L. Koster

As practicing attorneys and hard-working members of a thriving business community, we are a very fortunate group. We have the rewarding privilege of advocating for justice to help our clients achieve their goals. This privilege allows us not only the opportunity to make a living in a meaningful way, but it also allows us the opportunity to help those who cannot afford the legal assistance they need to fight for their families, their homes, and, in some cases, even their lives.

Local businesses and law firms recognize the immeasurable value of pro bono service and are leading an ongoing movement to integrate pro bono work into their business models. As part of that movement, the local business and legal communities have joined together to form the Tampa Bay Pro Bono Partnership, a project that pairs local businesses and law firms to provide pro bono service to the members of our community who need it the most.

Harnessing the power of business to help those in need is something our community does exceedingly well. The synergies are countless, and it is to the credit of the decision-makers at our local businesses and law firms who have made it a priority to identify and implement these synergies to help those who are less fortunate.

The Tampa Bay Pro Bono Partnership is scheduled to launch in 2014. It will host two events per year. Each event will begin with a networking reception for participating law-firm attorneys, in-house counsel, and local members of the state and federal judiciary. The reception will be followed by a brief program and breakout session, during which up to three attorneys from each participating law firm will be teamed with up to three in-house counsel from each participating business. Teams will have the opportunity to select from a list of pro bono projects, ranging widely in time commitment and complexity. Each event offers a new opportunity to mix things up, as pairings and pro bono opportunities will vary every time. Team members are encouraged to network and get to know each other while providing service to their community.

In addition to creating a unique platform for networking, the partnership offers participants resources and support, including mentoring, malpractice coverage for a variety of projects, and sponsorship opportunities. The program is supported by members of our local judiciary, who witness the critical need for pro bono service in their courtrooms every day and are excited to participate and see this project take hold.

Participants in the program are encouraged to make it their own by sharing ideas to develop the program to help those in need while achieving their business goals. For additional information about the Tampa Bay Pro Bono Partnership and to find out how you and your organization can get involved, please contact Sarah Lahlou-Amine at sarah.amine@fowlerwhite.com or Traci L. Koster at tkoster@bushross.com.