Law Office of
COMMUNITY SERVICE and PRO BONO POLICY
There is a legendary story about the folksinger Woody Guthrie. Woody once told the spokeswoman for a group that he would need $25 for a benefit performance. The woman said, "But it's a good cause, Mr. Guthrie" and he said "Lady, I don't sing for bad causes."
Peter has been practicing law for
more than 30 years. He does not
represent many bad causes, but he still needs
to get paid for his efforts representing good guys. There are occasions where,
because of the social or political implications of the
case, he charges a highly discounted rate, handles a
case on a contingent basis even though a contingent
fee arrangement is not warranted as a business risk,
or does not accept a fee. However, fee
arrangements are private matters; Peter does not
identify any clients as pro bono clients, or describe
any legal efforts as pro bono activities.
Legal work is legal work; a lawyer
owes the same level of responsibility to a client
regardless of how much he is getting paid. Large law firms who
typically represent major corporations may benefit
by claiming that they are performing a public
service by representing the very poor.
However, Peter does not represent rich corporate
interests, and a significant portion of his paying
clients would have a legitimate complaint if Peter
represented someone pro bono while charging them.
There are awards given for lawyers
who do more than a certain number of hours of pro bono
work in a year, and lawyers are encouraged to keep
records of how much time they spend doing pro bono
work. Peter refuses to
play this game; it would insult not only the pro bono
clients, but also clients of moderate means who are
struggling to pay legal bills.
There are cases that are worth taking, either because the cause is important, the legal principle is of particular interest, or because the client is a particularly sympathetic person in need of representation. If Peter accepts a case, he devotes himself to it and does not expect, want, or is willing to accept, any special recognition because of the level of compensation that he is receiving.
Lawyers Without Borders
Electronic Frontier Foundation
New York Civil Liberties Union
National Employment Lawyers Association
Government Accountability Project
Support for Local Organizations
Onesquethaw Volunteer Fire Company
Provide legal services for local volunteer fire company, including real estate, incorporation and tax exemption matters
Nipponzan Myohoji, Grafton Sangha
Act as attorney for Board, and handle miscellaneous legal matters including incorporation, immigration issues, land use and real property matters for local Buddhist Peace Pagoda that has constructed a 100 foot high stupa (peace pagoda) on an 11 acre site in Rensselaer County, New York (1989 - present)
Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace
Incorporate local organization and provide legal advice as needed
Rainbow Alliance for Clean Environment
Provide legal advice and represent environmental organization in Gloversville and Fulton County, New York, a community dominated by the leather industry, in numerous matters from 1984 to the present.
Volunteer attorney in Palm Beach County, Florida, during the 2004 Presidential election
Albany County Legislature
Provide extensive analysis (3000 word newspaper article in Altamont Enterprise) of misfeasance and non-feasance of Legislature and County Executive in settlement of reapportionment lawsuit in 2015