For Immediate Release:
Princeton Justice Initiative to Celebrate Pro Bono Week
New Jersey Nonprofit Using Major Grant to Build Volunteer Legal Aid Team
(Princeton, NJ — October 12, 2023) The week of October 22 to 28, 2023, marks a seven-day nationwide “Celebration of Pro Bono”—shining a light on the countless hours provided by individuals in the legal field to our most vulnerable citizens. This year’s theme is Voices of Democracy: Ensuring Justice for All.
Among the organizations celebrating this year is the New Jersey-based Princeton Justice Initiative (PJI), a legal aid 501(c)3 registered public charity that received its Pro Bono Certification earlier this year. PJI will be hosting an informal after-work meet-and-greet on Tuesday, October 24, from 5 PM to 7 PM at the Nassau Inn at 10 Palmer Square in Princeton.
“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.”
Princeton Justice Initiative received a generous grant from AmeriCorps in June, enabling the organization to accelerate its volunteer outreach timeline and take on an increasing number of cases in the final months of 2023.
“The aim of the grant is to build organizational infrastructure at the same time we add lawyers,” PJI’s CEO Dr. Saul Petersen explains. “We have really simplified the on-boarding process and, for attorneys who are able to give us a few pro bono hours, we have used digital tools to all but eliminate the burden of paperwork. So they can do what they do best, which is to help people in New Jersey who are being denied justice.”
One of the most productive volunteer-recruiting tools for Princeton Justice Initiative has been its ShareFairs. They serve the dual purpose of providing free community outreach services, as well as creating an environment where individuals curious about volunteer opportunities can chat with the staff.
The next ShareFair will take place on Saturday, October 14, at the Manville Library at 100 South 10th Street.
“In addition to promoting PJI’s legal services, the ShareFairs provide us with an opportunity to engage volunteers outside the legal field,” Lisa Cimpko, the organization’s co-founder and Director of Client Advocacy adds. “If someone has mentorship expertise in an area that can be helpful to our clients, the AmeriCorps funding gives us the capability to expand in ways that leverage the skills of adults with a passion for giving back—maybe just for a couple of hours but, hopefully, more.”
Attorneys interested in learning more about pro bono opportunities at Princeton Justice Initiative can visit PJIHelps.org or call (609) 366-6186. Additional information is available at AmeriCorps@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.