Inaugural Pro Bono Awards Ceremony: 7 October 2014
The very first Annual Pro Bono Awards Ceremony in South Africa was held at the stylish Katy’s Palace Bar in Johannesburg on 7 October 2014. 150 attorneys, advocates and mediators attended the event that was ably MC-ed by attorney and social media expert Emma Sadleir.
The event was held to recognise the impressive contribution made by pro bono attorneys (part-time and full-time), law firms and advocates to the lives of low-income people in South Africa. Journalists reporting on pro bono cases, drawing the public’s attention to cases that change the lives of the poor, were also recognised.
The aim of the event was to honour and celebrate this important work and also increase and grow the involvement and commitment of the legal profession:
ProBono.Org is a young, dynamic NGO that works with the private legal profession to provide pro bono legal services to the poor. We harness the enormous skill, might and strength of the South African private legal fraternity to cases and clients that we identify. Our existence is a response to the lack of access to justice for people in South African who are unable to pay for their own private legal representation. Section 34 of our Constitution, giving everyone the right to have any dispute resolved by the application of law decided in a fair public hearing before a court, or… another independent and impartial tribunal or forum, has no meaning whatsoever, if a person is unable to afford representation. ProBono.Org has as its goal, the creation of sufficient free legal representation for all who need it.
ProBono.Org is always busy training people, setting up workshops, creating new projects, meeting pro bono lawyers and clients and making sure that we make a difference.
ProBono.Org promotes, protects and realises the rights established in the Constitution by improving access to justice to poor, vulnerable and marginalised South Africans. We facilitate the provision of free legal service through the volunteerism of private lawyers. As South Africa struggles to overcome a legacy of chronic poverty and institutionalised discrimination, ProBono.Org enables pro bono legal services to be provided to thousands of poor clients. The first and only organisation of its kind in the country, our innovative model channels millions of rands worth of top quality legal assistance from the private legal profession to those who need these services. To quote former Chief Justice, Sandile Ngcobo, “legal representation will ensure that the constitutional promise of access to justice is available to all.”