“If we walk the walk of doing justice rather than just talking the talk, then our greatest responsibility is to those who cannot afford the services that only we can provide,” said Virginia Supreme Court Justice William C. Mims Tuesday, as he lauded the pro bono efforts of the Roanoke Bar Association and Virginia lawyers in general.
The tradition of lawyers contributing services for the good of the community without pay springs from three sources – lawyers’ own personal good will, the duty of the profession, and a faith-inspired desire to reciprocate for life’s rewards, Mims said.
Mims said he came to appreciate the personal satisfaction of helping others – for less than full compensation – in his private law practice in Leesburg. He helped secure workers’ compensation benefits for the widow of a man killed by random gunfire and a recovery for two young people orphaned by a car crash.
“Their lives were broken. I could help them through the brokenness,” Mims said, commending other attorneys for stepping up to the challenge of equal justice for all.
The RBA planned to continue the pro bono theme with a free CLE seminar Oct. 11 featuring John Whitfield, executive director of Blue Ridge Legal Services.
Tuesday’s RBA meeting also featured a remembrance of former Virginia Del. Clifton A. “Chip” Woodrum by former Del. C. Richard Cranwell of Vinton.
“He was always willing to be the voice of those who had no voice,” Cranwell said of Woodrum, who died in February.
Woodrum was the chief legislative advocate for a clean water project, improved access to college, the state birth injury fund, and open government reform, Cranwell said as he moved adoption of a memorial resolution commemorating Woodrum’s life.
The mood was lightened by good-natured jousting between Mims and Cranwell, who served together in the House of Delegates.
As Cranwell signaled that he would have some remarks about Mims, the justice warned, “Be careful.”
“I only have one case up there,” Cranwell said.
“Maybe we can kill it twice,” Mims responded.