Pro Bono: One Attorney, One Big Impact

Prominently displayed on Darrell Dolan’s website is the tagline: “Old School Law – One Attorney, One Secretary.” Darrell has been a solo practitioner for the last 23 years. As a solo practitioner, Darrell’s time is precious. During an average day, Darrell is pulled in many directions as he handles all of the minor details and functions of running a small business, in addition to the time spent representing his clients. Yet, Darrell has dedicated somewhere between 20 to 40 hours annually to performing pro bono services. Truly, Darrell has made one big impact on the individuals he serves year after year by providing them with free legal representation.

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Even more, Darrell has made a significant impact on the legal community in Marion County. His years of dedicated service and willingness to accept more than his fair share of pro bono matters through the Indianapolis Bar Association recently earned him an award of recognition by the Indianapolis Bar Association in the category of “Attorneys Aiding Individuals.” Darrell has been recognized not only for the hours he gives, but his willingness to say “yes” when the Indianapolis Bar Association calls upon him to come to the aid of a pro bono client.

When asked about his approach to pro bono work, Darrell explained that he leverages his experience in the areas in which he practices to enable him to provide his services to more people in need of legal assistance. Darrell focuses his practice in the areas of bankruptcy and family law, including adoption, guardianship, name changes and divorces. It just so happens that these are some of the key areas of greater need for pro bono volunteers. Darrell finds that he can take on a higher volume of cases when the subject matter is the same as what he already offers to his other clients. It therefore comes as no coincidence that most of Darrell’s pro bono work involves bankruptcy-related services, an area of law he has occupied for the last 23 years.

According to Darrell, his experience in volunteering time for pro bono work has been life altering for a number of individuals he has assisted. In some instances, he has freed the client from the emotional impact of a financial crisis. Other times, the original engagement has lead him and his pro bono client in directions never contemplated by the underlying legal issues presented.

Darrell gave one engagement as an illustration of the potential rewarding experience of pro bono representation leading to a much greater result than a legal victory. A few years back, Darrell accepted an assignment to straighten out a birth certificate that incorrectly identified the biological father. As one could expect, this fact scenario alone can present any number of evidentiary and legal challenges. DNA tests, a fight over custody and high emotions can be the norm in this type of case. But, in this particular matter, separate and apart from the legal issues, Darrell’s influence contributed to the parent being motivated to straighten out serious personal issues, becoming a much more productive individual. Darrell described this pro bono experience as life altering – literally for his client’s sake and a very positive life and professional experience for him. The momentum to take on more pro bono matters continued to grow from there.

On behalf of the IndyBar Pro Bono Standing Committee, we extend our gratitude to Darrell Dolan for his dedicated service to his pro bono clients and to the bar. If you desire to be added to the growing list of lawyers willing to assist others on a pro bono basis, please do not hesitate to contact the Indianapolis Bar Association. This is the second story in a series of articles that will recognize attorneys providing pro bono services in our community.iba-pro-bono-badge-hours-15col.jpg

The Pro Bono Standing Committee also takes this opportunity to first publicly announce the anticipated launch of its new pro bono recognition program. In the upcoming months, the pro bono committee will be rolling out three types of badges that can be earned for pro bono services rendered on behalf of clients referred through the Indianapolis Bar Association. Three levels are available to be earned depending on the number of hours donated: Gold (50 hours), Silver (25 hours) and Bronze (10 hours). Once earned, the badge is intended to be used on the lawyer’s website or personal email. A sample depiction of the badges is provided with this article. Additional details on the type of eligible assignments and reporting requirements will be forthcoming.•

Kris Kazmierczak is a member of the Indianapolis Bar Association Pro Bono Committee and a shareholder of Katz & Korin PC where he practices in the areas of business and employment counseling and litigation.

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