Remarks from Jim Jones

PBI Board Chair Jim Jones delivered final remarks during the 2013 PBI Annual Conference reception. See his remarks below.

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Pro Bono Institute, I want to thank you all for attending the reception this evening and for attending this year’s Annual PBI Conference.  I also want to congratulate all of this evening’s awardees, our fellow PBI director Bob Juceam, Judge Jonathan Lippman, and of course Bruce Kuhlik and his colleagues at Merck.  You have all demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to the very best in our profession and you’ve inspired us all to redouble our own efforts to fulfill the promise of pro bono.

The legal profession in our day faces a curious dilemma.  On the one hand, we’re told that there’s an over capacity in the market with too many lawyers to do the work of law firms and law departments, particularly given the sluggish demand growth for commercial legal services over the past several years.  And yet, as all of our speakers tonight have referenced, we also know that the vast majority of the legal needs of lower- and even middle-income Americans go unmet every year.  And we know that even as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens face criminal charges every year without adequate representation.

Somehow, for us as a profession, there is a serious mismatch between our perceptions and the reality all around us.  But of course, I know that I’m preaching to the choir here about all of that.  Through your efforts and those of the organizations you represent, you are working everyday to make the aspiration of justice for all a reality in our society and for that I congratulate all of you for all that you do and I urge you to keep up the good fight.

Thank you for joining us at the reception and please enjoy the rest of the evening.