On January 20, attorneys all over the country will have the day off in honor of civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr. To honor this great man on this day, and throughout the year, here are five ways attorneys can provide acts of service, uphold the civic values of the profession, and use their training to fight for the civil rights issues of today.
The projects highlighted below are hosted by the innovative online platform We the Action and most of them can be supported remotely, from anywhere in the country. To find pro bono projects close to home, check out Pro Bono Net’s map of volunteer opportunities in every state, or check in with your local bar association.
- Advocate for Asylum Seekers in Bond Hearings. Many asylum seekers are kept in detention while they await their immigration court hearings, which can take months or years. The Immigration Justice Campaign organizes pro bono attorneys to prepare bond motions and advocate for asylum seekers to be released at telephonic bond hearings. Volunteer here.
- Fight Workplace Sexual Harassment. The Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund is looking for attorneys across the country to join a new Legal Network for Gender Equity so that workers who are facing sexual harassment can access legal resources and other help to fight their case. Volunteers will receive training on trauma informed advocacy and other legal issues. Sign up here.
- Provide Local Counsel in Reproductive Rights Litigation. Access to reproductive healthcare is a critical civil right. Nationwide litigation requires the Center for Reproductive Rights to partner with local counsel all over the country. Volunteer here.
- Represent Workers Fighting Deportation. Lawyers in immigration cases don’t need to be admitted in any specific jurisdiction, so remote immigration work can be a great way for pro bono attorneys to give back. The Mississippi Center for Justice will train attorneys to remotely represent workers who were arrested in August 2019 in the largest ever single-state immigration raid, hundreds of whom remain in detention as they fight deportation. Sign up here.
- Translate Legal Information for Nonprofits & Aid Workers. Eliminating language barriers is crucial to helping people access their civil rights, benefits, and legal services. If you are a bilingual attorney, you can help the tech nonprofit Tarjimly provide translations for all kinds of legal documents. Get more information here.
Finally, protecting the fundamental right to vote is vital work which all attorneys should support – especially in an election year. Sign up for Election Protection as a poll watcher or hotline volunteer, or to find out other ways you can help maintain election integrity in 2020. And remember, November 3 isn’t the only critical voting day this year – there are hundreds of primaries and local elections as well!
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