This proclamation came about when the WSBA Pro Bono and Legal Aid committee decided we wanted to do something for the national Pro Bono week, but didn't want to devote a massive amount of resources to a large program this year; we had been busy on other projects more directly tied to recruiting and supporting pro bono volunteers. We hit upon the idea of asking local government bodies to consider proclamations, in the hope that this would provide favorable publicity to pro bono and encourage more participation. While it will probably be impossible to point to a particular volunteer as having been persuaded by any particular proclamation, we have to think of these things like any other advertizing or motivating campaign: the more messaging, the more the messaging is absorbed and acted on, until the desired behavior (in this case, providing legal services) is fully normalized.
This was the first time I was in the County Council chambers. I recognized most of the faces from the news and/or campaign literature, and the procedural bits seemed to go efficiently enough. The first act was to recognize a state senator who had passed away over the weekend; the Chair and another Council member talked about him with great fondness and I hope this was a comfort to the survivors. Next there was a joint proclamation by King County and Seattle, on the occasion of Food Day, October 24. This was the first I had ever heard of Food Day, but the concept seems sound enough.
Then came our turn. Those of us from the Committee, from Law Fund and other organizations, were called up to stand behind the podium as the reasons for Law Week were explained and the proclamation read. Then the Council joined us and there was an official photo, which I hope to post here when the County distributes it.
All-in-all, it was an interesting look into probably the least onerous part of democratic governance. I imagine it may have been a lot easier to do than haggling over budgets!
|Lesson: if you're standing in back, watch your positioning!|