AG Sullivan convening 'pro bono summit'

Posted: Sunday, May 16, 2010

ANCHORAGE - Attorney General Dan Sullivan is asking lawyers to donate their time to provide legal assistance to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Sullivan is planning a "pro bono summit" this month in Anchorage.

In a letter being sent to attorneys to gauge interest, Sullivan said one of the best ways to reduce the violence is to ensure victims have legal representation. Many don't, he said. And the victims' group Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault last year was unable to find pro bono attorneys for nearly 100 victims seeking legal aid, Sullivan said.

Christine Pate, supervising attorney for the network's pro bono program, said that number doesn't include victims who withdrew their applications. Of more than 300 applications, she said, about 130 were served last year.

A Department of Law spokesman said about 100 letters have been sent to attorneys so far.

Pate said another 50 to 100 attorneys doing pro bono work would be "really, really helpful," but she also noted some of the time involved in handling cases. Some volunteers give hundreds of hours a year. That was considerable, considering there are few large firms in the state, she said.

There's also a need for more staff attorneys, Pate said.

The types of cases include divorce, child custody issues and restraining orders.

Gov. Sean Parnell's administration has made cracking down on the violence a priority.



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