Washington, D.C. (JusticeNewsFlash.com – News Report) – What do you think of when you hear the word ‘lawyer’? Do words such as money, power, determined and aggressive come to mind? These stereotypical words do not apply to all who practice the law. One such example is attorney Vanessa NesSmith who puts her efforts towards Legal Counsel for the Homebound Elderly Project, or more commonly, Project HELP, which extends its legal advice and care to senior citizens (60 and over, and who have an income of less than 200% of the federal poverty guideline) who cannot leave their homes and/or pay for a lawyer.
A D.C. Council offered a grant of around $80,000 to help start and fund the project and an article in the Legal Times states that the program has already ‘handled more than 120 house visits for more than 100 clients.’ The program is continuing to spread the word of its services for a two-fold purpose: to gain more clients that need help and more volunteers to Project Help. Recently, one has volunteered from Chadbourne & Park and Monica Gibson-Moore.
It is interesting that although we are in an economic recession, some firms are staying committed to pro-bono work. According to an article in the Legal Times, ‘The average Am Law 100 firm logged 25,893 hours in pro-bono work, up 13.2% from 2006. Total hours grew to 4.8 million – a record- and the number of lawyers doing more than 20 hours of pro bono work climbed 12% to 38, 196.’ With everything citizens have had to cut back on because of rising prices, pro-bono obviously wasn’t among them.
NesSmith is only one of sixteen attorneys involved in this project, but she is making a difference in the lives of the elderly. These citizens need the willing spirits of the lawyers to advise them on wills, power of attorney and various other legal matters that they are unaware of. It is commendable work that if more lawyers participated in, the major stereotypes surrounding their titles might change.
Jana Simard is a contributing writer for Justice News Flash with degrees in Political Science and Spanish. Born in Canada, but raised in sunny south Florida, Jana had an early passion for writing. During her high school and college years she interned at a Florida Congressman's office as well as a Rhode Island Governor and Senator's office. While in her last two years of college, Jana spent six months in Salamanca, Spain where she truly discovered her passion for writing and had her articles published in her school's newspaper. Her experience in two Providence high profile law firms has equipped her with the ability to write for Justice News Flash as a Legal Reporter.