The Washington State Bar Association held its annual Access to Justice and Bar Leaders Conferences in Yakima, Washington on Friday 29th and Saturday 30th May, 2009 at the Yakima Convention Center. Approximately 1000 lawyers from across Washington State attended the event. Many members of the judiciary, including Washington Supreme Court judges attended. The WSBA president, Mark Johnson announced, among other things, that due to a lack of funds received by the Washington Legal Foundation, WSBA will be reallocating over $1 million dollars to the Foundation to assist in funding various pro bono legal clinics across the State. The Foundation usually receives substantial funds from IOLTA account (lawyers’ trust accounts) bank interest. Due to the recession, IOLTA funds have decreased dramatically. As a result, various clinics have been closed and more face closure. At a time of dyer economic recession, when people require the most pro bono assistance, WSBA is stepping up to assist in funding at least some of these clinics. WSBA is also leading a huge pro bono project to assist people facing foreclosure. Washington lawyers are volunteering through this program to assist families who risk losing their homes. If you are facing foreclosure and require immediate assistance, please visit www.wsba.org for more information.
The conference was interesting, thought provoking and it inspired many lawyers to donate their time. We were reminded of our responsibilities as lawyers to assist people at a time when a large proportion of society needs pro bono legal assistance.