Firm, IBA support pro bono mediation day

August 3, 2010
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This post was submitted by IL reporter Rebecca Berfanger.

After covering the pro bono efforts of Indiana attorneys for almost four years now, there seem to be a number of annual events and common occurrences. While all of these efforts are worth covering and important to share with the rest of the legal community, sometimes something different will come to my attention.

A couple weeks ago as I was about to head out the door, I received a call that there would be pro bono mediations for paternity cases at the downtown office of Baker & Daniels that would take place today. I was asked if I would be interested in covering it for the paper. Intrigued, I went over this morning after I received a call that a few of the mediations had wrapped up. I was able to talk to some of the mediators about their experiences, which will be reported more in depth for the Aug. 18 edition of the paper.

Part of what intrigued me about the call I received two weeks ago from Brita Horvath, the pro bono and diversity coordinator for the firm, was that she said she wasn’t necessarily interested in getting the firm’s name out for doing this, but to show other firms how easy it would be for them to pull off a similar event.

The main reason her firm hosted this event was the Indianapolis Bar Association’s ADR Committee, including Elisabeth Edwards, the committee’s incoming chair, who contacted Horvath about involving the firm because she and another attorney at the firm, Andrew Campbell, are co-chairs of the IBA’s Pro Bono Committee.

But that’s no reason other firms can’t step up, Horvath and today’s participants told me. All a firm would need to do is provide the conference rooms – more than enough mediators volunteered, and judges and commissioners could always use the help in lightening their caseloads. Baker & Daniels had six conference rooms available to the mediators today, including one for the judge pro tem to use where the others could discuss their cases at the end of the process, and a smaller room for caucuses or the occasional phone call to an attorney who opted to stay out of the mediation. The firm also provided support staff as needed.

And while the mediators did invoice the Family Court Project of the Marion Superior Court for their time, as the court encourages mediators to do when working with clients who are indigent or of modest means, they donated the money they would have earned through that program to the Indianapolis Bar Foundation.

Have you heard of a similar event in your community? Are there any interesting pro bono efforts going on with your bar association that you’d like the rest of the legal community to know about? Please comment here, or e-mail me, rberfanger@ibj.com.

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