Pro Bono Corner: Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts
As young attorneys, we don't always get to choose our cases or clients. Volunteer organizations for lawyers provide perfect outlets for young lawyers to exercise their skills in an industry or area of law that, although they might enjoy, may not always cross their desks. Whether it is an interest in finance, elder law, immigration, or child advocacy, there is a volunteer organization with a mission suited for every affinity.
But beyond the personal fulfillment that comes with volunteering, there is the simple fact that these organizations need lawyers with diverse skills and expertise to assist their clients.
Last spring, Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (PVLA) referred Betsy,* a Philadelphia artist, to Tricia Desmarais Clark for litigation advice. Betsy had been receiving harassing emails and text messages from a former art school classmate containing outrageous accusations about her character and artistic integrity. Betsy had subsequently learned the classmate had created a website publicizing these slanderous communications and he was submitting the website to many prominent galleries and museums - some of which Betsy did business with - as a work of art. Knowing full-blown litigation was not in Betsy's best interests, Clark was able to negotiate a resolution with the classmate that allayed Betsy's concerns and protected her professional interests.
Also a volunteer for PVLA, Gregory Baroni provides transactional legal services for area artists. In one such case, Baroni assisted a non-profit art gallery with advice related to the gallery's nationally recognized creative talent competition, which exhibits the paintings, illustrations, photography, and other works of local artists. The works are evaluated by a jury comprised of artists knowledgeable and active within an artistic discipline. The gallery's stated challenge was to maintain the reputation of the competition and provide a fair jury process. In concert with gallery representatives, Baroni developed a jury process and drafted corresponding guidelines, including a juror code of ethics, which would provide the standards for juror conduct throughout the competition and minimize or eliminate the potential for bias.
Helping a low-income client resolve an issue is often one of the most rewarding things we can do as young attorneys. Whatever our practices, whatever our interests, there is an affinity volunteer organization with clients who need our help. For us, it is PVLA -- for you?
Tricia Desmarais Clark is a litigation associate at Bochetto & Lentz, P.C. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gregory A. Baroni is a trusts and estates attorney at Connor, Weber & Oberlies. He can be reached at email@example.com.
*All client names have been changed to protect their privacy.