New Jersey State Bar Association - The voluntary Bar Association of New Jersey, serving members since 1899.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 02/15/08
CONTACT:Barbara S. Straczynski
Director of Communications
732-937-7524

Letter to the Editor in Response to "Saving Legal Services" Editorial

January 30, 2008

Mr. Jim Willse, Editor

The Star-Ledger

One Star-Ledger Plaza

Newark, NJ 07102-1200

RE: “Saving Legal Services,” January 21, 2008, editorial

Dear Editor:

As the president of the New Jersey State Bar Association, I would like to comment on your suggestion, in a Jan. 21, 2008, editorial titled “Saving Legal Service,” that the State Bar encourage its members to contribute time or money to Legal Services of New Jersey. We at the NJSBA have long recognized the fine work of Legal Services, and our members already have a strong record of support for the agency, giving both time and money to help provide pro bono legal aid to New Jerseyans in need.

The State Bar has long been involved in initiatives aimed at helping the poor, beginning with the creation of legal aid societies and later working with the American Bar Association to secure federal funding for Legal Services programs nationwide. Over the last five years, we have successfully lobbied members of Congress in Washington and testified before the New Jersey Senate and Assembly in support of Legal Services, working to obtain significant increases in state funding for Legal Services of New Jersey at a time of fiscal belt-tightening at both the state and national levels.

While State Bar members already spend countless hours representing indigent clients, the NJSBA recently reaffirmed its strong commitment to volunteerism by amending our Mission Statement to include the words, “to encourage participation in voluntary pro bono activities.” Recognizing the vital part pro bono work plays in improving access to justice for all segments of society, and I am proud to say that New Jersey’s lawyers are already enthusiastically answering the call. Although much still needs to be done to meet the legal needs of indigent clients across the state, the commitment of New Jersey’s attorneys remains strong.

Very truly yours,

Lynn Fontaine Newsome

President, New Jersey State Bar Association