Thousands of St. Louisans call for pro bono assistance every month. Not all of them can acquire help, but attorneys in the metropolitan area can now meet those needs with a simple online search.
Danny Barnett-Foster, an attorney who serves as assistant executive director of operations for The Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, demonstrated how to use the St. Louis Pro Bono Matters site on Oct. 25. Attorneys can filter a search for specific legal issues and can subscribe to notifications when new listings for that legal issue are posted.
Karen C. Nelson Warren, who is associate director of administration and community engagement for Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, said LSEM intakes an average of about 2,000 calls per month from people seeking legal help.
“Some [cases] are things that we simply can’t handle and other times they are things that we’re not able to handle because we don’t have the necessary resources in terms of permanent staff or sufficient volunteers to be able to handle those matters,” Nelson Warren said.
Susan McCourt Baltz is BAMSL’s executive director and noted that BAMSL also receives about a hundred calls a week seeking similar assistance that it redirects to other organizations.
Attorneys can view proxy cases on the site and be connected with LSEM, Catholic Legal Assistance Ministry (CLAM), or a similar legal services organization in the area, noted CLAM Managing Attorney Amy Diemer.
“If somebody’s looking and they think, ‘Oh, I might want to do a guardianship case,’ they can click the link on what they call proxy cases,” Diemer said. “And then we have a waitlist of guardianship cases where we need someone on a guardianship case at any time.”
BAMSL built the site with funding from John Simon, who leads The Simon Law Firm.
McCourt Baltz said Simon has pushed to increase access to pro bono opportunities since his 2017 term as BAMSL president. She cited his introductory letter upon the start of his presidency, in which he wrote that “… if we keep our focus on things we can accomplish together, we are limited only by our imagination.”
“It was a hundred percent John’s generosity and his vision,” McCourt Baltz said.
Missouri Lawyers Media is a sustaining Platinum Sponsor of BAMSL.