|The Colorado Lawyer|
Vol. 32, No. 12 [Page 6]
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Raising the Bar for Charity
by Lindsay Packard
Corrupt. Money-hungry. Unfeeling.
Lawyers have long tried to dispel the negative perceptions of their profession to their peers and the public by developing good public relations through good works within the community. Members of the Pueblo County Bar Association ("PCBA") have taken their crusade to enhance the image of lawyers far beyond basic image building. In an effort to provide some financial relief during hard economic times, the PCBA recently awarded $4,500 to nine Pueblo nonprofit agencies.
|Pueblo County Bar Association Past President |
Judge Bill Alexander (right) presents checks of $500
to representatives of local Pueblo charities.
Donations originally were collected as a part of the PCBA dues. In the early 1990s, the money was used to fund a law library for PCBA members. With increased use of the Internet, fewer members visited the library as a resource, and the bar association realized that the library would cost too much to maintain. Even though the PCBA was no longer collecting a library fee from its members, $4,500 remained in an account designated for library purposes.
Municipal Judge Bill Alexander, who was president of the PCBA at the time, looked at several options.
We really struggled with what we should do with the money. Some thought we should just take the money and throw a big party and take all the members to a Broncos game. Others thought the money should go to the public library. In the end, we decided that the money should go to the community.
In early July 2003, the PCBA invited representatives from nine local organizations to a special luncheon at Rosario’s restaurant in Pueblo. The luncheon included a special ceremony during which each organization was presented with a check for $500. The checks were awarded to the following organizations: CASA of Pueblo, Catholic Charities, the Community Soup Kitchen, La Gente Youth Sports, Los Pobres Center, Posada, Wayside Cross Mission, YMCA, and YMCA of Pueblo.
"The donations were really well received," Judge Alexander said. "People are always so focused on the few bad things that lawyers get tangled up in that they never realize all of the good things that we do. This is a way for us to show the community what we are really about."
Since the presentation of the donations, a special one-time project, members have suggested starting a scholarship fund or creating other possible avenues to donate to charity. While the bar association is considering the options, it continues to devote its time to other charitable and pro bono efforts. For example, the PCBA conducts ask-a-lawyer programs on local-access television approximately eight times a year. The hour-long show focuses on topics of general public interest, such as landlord-tenant and family law issues. The association also sponsors legal advice roundtable discussions at Pueblo Community College, in addition to maintaining a designated phone line at the college where the public can call in and request legal information.
"There are so many lawyers out there doing great things for their community," Judge Alexander said. "This is a great way for them to get a little positive recognition for what they do."
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