Minneapolis (3-09-06): -- Over $83,000 was contributed to the Hennepin County Bar Foundation through the annual Bar Benefit, setting a record for the eighth consecutive year. In addition, the Volunteer Lawyers Network (VLN) received over $21,000 through their silent auction and raffle held in conjunction with the benefit. Courtney Ward-Reichard, chair of the planning committee, and Foundation President Judy Rogosheske express their thanks to all for their generosity.
The Bar Benefit, held Thursday, March 2, at the Radisson Plaza Hotel, was an evening of fellowship, fun, and fundraising, enthusiastically supported by hundreds of members of the legal community, both bench and bar. In addition to providing financial support for legal services, the community also honors those who have distinguished themselves in pro bono work.
The well-deserving recipients of this year’s Pro Bono Publico awards were Ian Ball, an attorney in private practice (award for excellence by an attorney from the private sector); Abigail Turner, litigation director at Mid-Minnesota Legal Assistance (award for excellence in the public sector); and Bricker Lavik of Dorsey & Whitney (the Distinguished Service award, which recognizes overall commitment to pro bono service throughout a lawyer’s career). Also, seven law firms were recognized for their successful participation in the Pro Bono Challenge by providing pro bono services of at least 3% of their 2005 billable hours.
This year’s event also celebrated the 40th anniversary of VLN, the bar association’s close partner in serving legal needs in Hennepin County. In honor of this milestone, Boyd Ratchye of the Bassford Remele law firm served as the honorary chair. Ratchye was one of seven lawyers who founded the organization forty years ago.
At the time, Legal Advice Clinics (the former name for VLN) was only the second volunteer lawyers’ organization in the nation. Taking encouragement from what a few lawyers were able to accomplish forty years ago, Ratchye challenged attendees to look to the future, identify what unrecognized group is currently underserved by the law and lawyers, and to recruit colleagues who can serve that group. Attendees found Ratchye’s recollections a wonderful link to the past, and his emphasis on the future inspirational.
Founded in 1968, the Hennepin County Bar Foundation is dedicated to the mission of ensuring the fairness of, and accessibility to, the legal system by promoting public understanding and confidence in our system of justice. Toward this end the Foundation makes grants each year to community organizations involved in public legal education and the delivery of legal services to the citizens of Hennepin County. Over $500,000 in grants have been distributed in the last decade, supported in large part by the Bar Benefit, as well as individual contributions from the Hennepin County legal community.