David Pfalzgraf recently spoke to the Buffalo Law Journal about our pro bono efforts.
Until a recent initiative by Rupp Baase Pfalzgraf Cunningham, there were times when attorneys at the firm wanted to do pro bono work but didn’t know where to start. Others were active in pro bono but doing it on their own and may have been unable to find a wider variety of cases of interest to them.
The firm now partners with the Erie County Bar Association’s Volunteer Lawyers Project and other organizations in the legal community to find pro bono opportunities. In the process, Rupp Baase also provides attorneys a structure in which to do the work.
Led by attorney Erin Cody, earlier this year the firm came up with a scope for the program, set goals for 2016 and held a kickoff event in March so attorneys could learn more about it.
“Somebody needed to take the initiative and put the program in place and make sure everyone across the firm knew about these pro bono opportunities,” said Cody, a member of the firm’s banking and collections practice. “If people want to do pro bono in certain areas, it’s about going out and finding opportunities in that area that are right for them.”
Managing Partner David Pfalzgraf served as a resource but gave Cody latitude in setting program policies and goals. The program is voluntary but the response already exceeded expectations, she said.
“We’re not going to pound down people’s doors if they’re not doing it but our attorneys have jumped on this,” she said. “We’ve gotten support from not just associates but a lot of partners have stepped up, too.”
Pfalzgraf said although he was proud of the firm’s pro bono efforts in its 16-year existence, he recognized that it wasn’t as collaborative or organized as it could be. So when Cody came to him in December with an idea to quarterback a structured initiative, he took it to the partners
“The partners were thrilled to see one of our talented, up-and-coming attorneys take the bull by the horn and volunteer her time to make an extraordinary effort to propel our pro bono work to greater heights and for greater causes,” he said. “Almost six months into this formal structure, we’re really happy with it.”