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Prince William bar honored for pro bono work

The Prince William County Bar Association has won the 2018 Frankie Muse Freeman Organizational Pro Bono Award.

The award, named for the famed civil rights leader and first woman appointed to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, is presented annually by the Virginia State Bar Access to Legal Services Committee.

The 518-member Prince William bar has donated hundreds of hours of legal services over the years through programs designed to fit the needs of the low income and underserved residents in their region, according to a VSB announcement. Formed in 1995, the bar’s pro bono committee established a domestic violence program, its longest running one, to provide legal assistance to victims of domestic violence.

The bar also turned the VSB’s “So You’re 18” booklets into a yearly high school service project, where volunteer attorneys present and answer questions about civic duties, rights and responsibilities of legal adulthood. Around 6,800 students in the class of 2017 benefitted from the program.

The bar’s uncontested divorce program helps couples through the process, and two conciliators’ programs create alternatives to traditional court proceedings for clients in civil and criminal cases.

“The conciliators program has been a great addition to the services we provide to litigants,” said Juvenile and Domestic Relations Judge Lisa M. Baird. “The attorneys assist in facilitating resolutions for custody, visitation, and support matters, giving parties more control over the outcome in cases involving their children and it’s an effective diversionary measure for the court.”

Other pro bono programs by the Prince William County Bar Association have assisted seniors, first responders, those affected by natural disasters, pro se litigants, tenants, veterans and those of modest means who don’t qualify for services through a qualified legal services provider.

The PWC bar estimates that the total value of pro bono legal services provided by its members equals more than $400,000 annually.

“We continue to fulfill the original goals established by our pro bono committee 23 years ago and look forward to increasing the ways in which we serve the low-income and underserved residents of Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park,” wrote executive director Alissa Hudson in the bar’s nomination.

This year’s award will be presented Oct. 17 during the VSB Pro Bono Conference and Celebration in Norfolk.