The Pro Bono Initiative at the University of Mississippi School of Law recently held its annual fundraiser benefiting the school’s Clinical Programs. This year’s event, the Autumn Soiree, honored Henderson Dantone, P.A., located in Greenville, MS.
“The Henderson Dantone firm in Greenville has been a backbone of Greenville Pro Se Day, a cornerstone project of the Pro Bono Initiative, since its beginning,” said Deborah Bell, interim dean of the law school. “They have provided a great example of what it means to be a lawyer who gives back to the community. We are so proud to honor the Henderson Dantone firm for their service to Washington County, to our school, to the Pro Bono Initiative, and for the example they provide.”
Greenville Pro Se Day is held quarterly, and is co-sponsored by the Pro Bono Initiative, the Washington County Chancery Court, the Washington County Bar Association, and the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project. Students work alongside local attorneys to assist low-income Washington County residents with much needed help in family law matters.
“All four members of the Henderson Dantone firm often participate in Pro Se Day, taking a full day from their practices each quarter,” said Bell. “Over the years, their dedication to the program has provided legal assistance to many who would otherwise have been without access to the legal system. While providing help to their community, they have mentored dozens of law students, providing them with practical experience, common sense advice, connection to lawyers who enjoy what they do, and an example of the highest and best of the profession – lawyers using their skills to improve their community.”
Accepting the award on the firm’s behalf was partner Frank Dantone, a 1978 graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Law. Dantone recalled the first Pro Se Day he attended. After seeing the need in Washington County and the help that was being provided he went back to his firm and encouraged the other attorneys in his office to get involved. Since then, all four practicing attorneys in the firm have participated.
“When I go to Pro Se Day, I see the good that is being done. When you see these people, they are finally relieved that they are able to get some results, they are thankful that the law system is working for them,” said Dantone. “It’s not really a labor, it’s a labor of love because we know we’re doing some good.”
Dantone also encouraged law students at the event to volunteer as much as possible when they graduate.
“Every opportunity you get to do something like that, I invite you to do it because not only are you going to be helping people, you’ll be helping yourself,” he said.
The University of Mississippi School of Law’s Pro Bono Initiative is a unique in-house pro bono program. Student volunteers represent client in daylong mini-clinics, work on policy initiatives, and provide public education on legal issues. Annually, 100-plus student volunteers assist over 500 clients.