As we all continue to adapt to our worlds being turned upside down in the span of less than two weeks, our legal community’s leadership on access to justice will be more important than ever in this time of heightened need. And the CBF already is stepping up our efforts to bring our community together around this common cause to tackle the many emerging challenges and opportunities this crisis is generating.
The last time we faced an upheaval of this magnitude was back in 2009, when the toll of the great recession was at its peak. And we could not have been prouder of the way our legal community rallied together and stepped up at a time when that crisis was hitting most lawyers and law firms very directly.
Lawyers and firms increased their pro bono efforts in a big way and expanded their financial support for the cause through the Investing in Justice Campaign and beyond, helping many thousands more people get critical legal help at a time when the need was greater than ever. And taking the mantra of “never let a crisis go to waste” to heart, the CBF and our many dedicated partners developed and launched a number of innovative new programs that have made the larger legal system more fair, accessible, and efficient for everyone.
While the way we all work together will be different this time, we are confident that our legal community is going to step up in an even bigger way than we collectively did in 2009 to support our pro bono and legal aid partners and tackle the larger systemic challenges and opportunities this crisis is creating. And the CBF will be here as always.
While we’ll be doing this from remote environs for the foreseeable future, the CBF will be here to play a community leadership role in these fast-changing times, and we will be working harder than ever. As we continue to adapt and identify other key advocacy issues, here are some of the things we are doing right now:
- We are retooling the Investing in Justice Campaign to respond to the reality that the campaign will need to be largely virtual this year, knowing the Campaign will be more important than ever for our pro bono and legal aid partners and the growing number of people who depend on them.
- We are working with our partners in the courts and throughout the legal community to maximize the capacity for remote access for court proceedings, remote legal service delivery, and remote programming and communication.
- We are working with our pro bono and legal aid partners to best harness the currently heightened interest in pro bono to make the greatest community impact in the present climate.
Our other efforts will continue as well, including the great work the CBA/CBF Task Force on the Sustainable Practice of Law & Innovation is carrying out. We are staying as flexible as possible to respond to the shifting tides and, as always, we welcome your feedback and suggestions for how we can best serve you and our larger community.
Thank you for your leadership, partnership, and strong support. While there is no doubt this will be a challenging time for all of us in the near term, we know that our legal community is going to step up to lead by example to help the growing number of people who will be most in need of our services. Our community needs us more than ever, and together, we will all get through this and come out stronger on the other side.