When Beasley Allen’s managing partner Tom Methvin took the helm of the Alabama State Bar in July 2009, he turned the spotlight on the issue of access to justice.
Who will help the poor get access to justice?
Alabama was 51st in spending on civil legal aid—even behind Puerto Rico—and is still one of only three states that provides zero state funding for civil legal assistance. “If lawyers don’t help the poor get access to justice, who will?” he asked.
Thus began his push to rally fellow attorneys to give their time to those less fortunate. “Our team constantly spoke about it, wrote articles on it, raised money for it, and got more lawyers involved in the VLP [Volunteer Lawyers Program]. I am hopeful that this made a lasting impression on the pro bono community and elevated the issue to a new level,” he said.
Lawyers Answer the Call
Lawyers responded to this disparity by giving of their time and talent. As a result, the state now has one of the highest enrollment rates in pro bono programs in the country. Alabama also leads the nation to close pro bono cases each year.
“I am so thankful that so many lawyers were willing to get on the rolls of our volunteer lawyer programs,” he said.
Just because Mr. Methvin’s tenure as president has ended doesn’t mean his commitment to helping those less fortunate has as well. He continues to advocate for pro bono work, which he describes as like David fighting Goliath. “It’s a great feeling to be a giant slayer when you get a victory for your client,” he said.
This month, Alabama Lawyer’s “30 Faces of Pro Bono” series celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Alabama State Bar’s Volunteer Lawyers Program featured Mr. Methvin and his passion for access to justice. The series honors volunteers for their service. Read the complete story here.