By Emily Spreiser
Today – the second Tuesday in April – is International Be Kind to Lawyers Day. The holiday was invented in 2008 by a non-lawyer who recognized that lawyers often get a bad rap and that a lot of lawyers deserve to be recognized for all of the good that they do.
So, in celebration of International Be Kind to Lawyers Day, the Pension Rights Center would like to recognize the amazing work done by the attorneys and other legal professionals at the six federally funded pension counseling projects. The pension counseling projects provide free legal assistance to individuals who need help understanding or obtaining a retirement benefit they earned through their employers.
Pension counseling attorneys have helped older individuals achieve economic security: They’ve helped them avoid foreclosures by helping them preserve retirement savings they needed to be able to pay their mortgages. They have helped older survivors of domestic violence get the retirement income they needed from former spouses in order to be able to support themselves. They have helped clients in their eighties and nineties whose employers have threatened to sue them to reclaim overpaid benefits when the overpayment was the employer’s own fault. And even in certain circumstances they have helped those living in homeless shelters find retirement income they earned previously.
We here at the Center work closely with the pension counseling attorneys and have firsthand knowledge of their compassion and commitment to their clients. We’re aware of the long hours they work, the painstakingly thorough searches they perform going through stacks of pension paperwork and online government filings, and the emotional investment that goes into representing someone who really needs your help and has nowhere else to turn. We also have the pleasure of hearing about the incredible victories that they frequently win on behalf of retired Americans.
So, today, for International Be Kind to Lawyers Day, take some time to show appreciation for the legal services, volunteer, and pro bono attorneys in your community who, like the pension counseling attorneys, have committed themselves to helping individuals in need. If you are able, consider ways you can support the pension counseling projects and other pro bono legal services providers, whether that involves a financial contribution, volunteering, or simply spreading the word about their programs and the great work that they do.
If you or someone you know needs help understanding or obtaining an earned retirement benefit, you can learn more about getting help from the pension counseling projects here.