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Pro Bono Week: NV Legal Aid Lawyers Call for Reinforcements

October 24, 2011

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - National Pro Bono Week kicks off today, and Legal Aid lawyers in Nevada are calling for reinforcements. Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada development director Lynn Etkins says their attorneys handled 45,000 cases last year and, with the economic downturn, are on target to handle even more this year. The problem is that the Center, which provides free ("pro bono," in Latin) legal services, does not have enough lawyers to keep up in important areas like consumer fraud and domestic violence, she says.

"Most of the domestic violence victims are working through a shelter, trying to start a life free of violence for themselves and their children. Each week we have a very large stack of requests for assistance, and we just don't have the resources, so we unfortunately have to turn people away."

The Nevada State Bar Association reports 54 percent of Nevada lawyers provided no free legal services in 2010. Lawyers are required to report how much pro bono work they do each year, but there is no requirement that they provide any free legal services. The American Bar Association launched Pro Bono Week in 2009 with a goal to get every lawyer to provide at least 50 hours a year in free legal services.

Etkins notes no shortage of scammers trying to take advantage of Nevadans, pointing to the great demand for free legal advice in areas like home loans, foreclosure and other kinds of consumer law.

"A lot of lawyers are out there, and we could really use their help - all across the state - by taking a case, volunteering in an 'ask-a-lawyer' program, or participating in some other way."

Information on volunteering and on how to get legal assistance is available on the Legal Aid Center website, www.lacsn.org.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NV