Pro Bono Certification a Key Component in Non-Profit’s
Fight Against Local Poverty in West-Central New Jersey
(Princeton, NJ — November 3, 2023) Princeton Justice Initiative, a 501(c)(3) that advises and protects at-risk and disadvantaged families caught in the civil legal system, plans to expand its cadre of volunteer attorneys in the coming months thanks to its newly minted Pro Bono Certification from the State of New Jersey. The organization is actively recruiting lawyers interested in fulfilling their pro bono requirements with an hour or two (or more) of in-person or phone time.
“The barriers our clients encounter in accessing legal aid seem insurmountable to them,” says Lavinia Lee Mears-Parasole, Esq., the chair and co-founder of Princeton Justice Initiative. “They cannot afford private legal representation and either do not qualify for civil legal aid or must deal with the inadequate number of legal aid providers. We believe that there is a moral imperative—as well as constitutional and statutory obligations—to work collaboratively to increase access to civil legal aid, and to the basic resources needed for everyday survival.”
Thanks to a generous 2023 grant from AmeriCorps, Princeton Justice has ramped up its public outreach this year, addressing basic needs of clients on issues ranging from food insecurity to free vaccinations and professional advice on a number of everyday life challenges.
Receiving Pro Bono Certification from the New Jersey Courts enables Princeton Justice to broaden its appeal to attorneys, whose time and expertise are especially valuable to those who cannot afford it.
“The cost of living in this part of New Jersey makes it difficult to make ends meet, particularly when you are surviving paycheck-to-paycheck” observes Saul Petersen, CEO of Princeton Justice. “It doesn’t take much to slip through the cracks and spiral into poverty. Time and again, attorneys doing pro bono work are able to stop that spiral and, with the support of our volunteers, reverse it.”
Princeton Justice offers free civil legal advice at community gatherings called ShareFairs. The next ShareFair is scheduled for Saturday, December 9, in Manville; Franklin is slated to host the first ShareFair of 2024.
Attorneys interested in volunteering their time are encouraged to stop by, or contact Princeton Justice through its web site, www.pjihelps.org.
About PJI: Princeton Justice Initiative is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, all-volunteer social impact and legal aid organization created to alleviate, reduce and eliminate poverty in Central Western New Jersey through on-partisan, all-inclusive and secular outreach an events. The PJI/AmeriCorps ShareFair program offer real-world, practical benefits to those in need by connecting community members with services and resources that fulfill PJI’s mission of fighting poverty and economic injustice.