Rule 6.1 is the pro bono rule. It urges lawyers to provide at least 50 hours of pro bono legal services per year. The rule also suggests that lawyers should “contribute financial support to organizations that provide legal services of limited means.” Rule 6.1(b).
One such organization is the Vermont Bar Foundation. Its mission includes raising funds for programs that promote equal access to justice for all Vermonters. Over the years, the Foundation has raised more than $799,0000 through its Access to Justice campaigns.
Lawyers from throughout the state and the profession have contributed to A2J, whether financially, as members of the A2J campaign committee, or as county captains. Among them, though, Bob Paolini has played a critical role.
In 1996, the VBA hired Bob as its executive director. Few would disagree that Bob’s hire ranks as one of the best hiring decisions ever made by a legal organization in Vermont. But for Bob’s leadership and vision, the organization would not be what it is today.
Last fall, Bob decided to step down as E.D. His replacement will be named sometime in the next few months.
Bob’s work spanned the gamut of issues affecting lawyers and the legal profession. However, some of his best work, and the work closest to his heart, was on A2J issues. Bob devoted himself to raising awareness and encouraging involvement. As he often said to lawyers, “the VBF is our charity.”
The VBF’s Access to Justice committee raises funds for the Poverty Law Fellowship, a position in which a lawyer provides legal services to low income Vermonters. Bob Paolini was instrumental in creating the Fellowship Since 2008, four extraordinarily talented and tireless lawyers have served as Poverty Law Fellows, not only providing direct legal services, but helping to raise funds & awareness on critical A2J issues:
- 2008-2010 Grace Pazdan The Foreclosure Crisis
- 2010-2012 Jessica Radbord Adequate Housing; the Hurricane Irene Disaster
- 2012-2014 Jay Diaz Helping low-income children to succeed in school
- 2014-2016 Katelyn Atwood Vermont’s Military Veterans
Jeff Johnson co-chairs the Access to Justice Campaign. Mary Kehoe co-captains Chittenden County’s efforts. At the Chittenden County Bar Association’s 2015 holiday party, Jeff and Mary presented a fabulous idea: thank Bob for all he has done as the VBA’s executive director by donating to the 2015-2016 Access to Justice campaign for the next Poverty Law Fellowship.
As I mentioned this weekend in Montreal at the YLD Thaw, I can think of no better way to honor Bob for everything he’s done as ED than by donating to a cause that means so much to him and that, frankly, might not exist but for his vision and devotion to A2J issues.
If you haven’t already donated, consider doing so in his honor. If you’ve already donated, consider giving a bit more, again, in Bob’s name. To donate, go HERE.
Thank you very much.