And Justice For All
Admitted to practice in 1982, Timothy J. Abeska is closing in on 30 years in his profession. An attorney who practices in business and construction litigation with Barnes & Thornburg LLP’s South Bend office, Abeska has long supported access to justice programs including his local pro bono district, The Volunteer Lawyer Network, Inc., through gifts to the Indiana Bar Foundation.
“I know that we have hard-working full-time lawyers in local pro bono and legal aid services,” said Abeska. “Financial support is as important if not more so than time to keep the office running.”
Gift Matched 1:1
Abeska demonstrated his support in 2010 in a big way with a $25,000 leadership gift to the Foundation for the Richard M. Givan Loan Repayment Assistance Program (Givan LRAP). Abeska’s gift propelled the
fund forward with a five-year pledge that allows the Foundation to secure a 1:1 match from the Indiana Supreme Court. The Court’s concern is the mounting debt new attorneys accumulate during law school.
The Givan LRAP will ensure that new attorneys who want to practice in legal aid will not have undue financial pressure resulting from their choice of work.
The Court donated an initial $25,000 gift to the Foundation to re-establish the LRAP, and the Foundation re-named the LRAP for Justice Richard Givan at the suggestion of his former law clerks as a lasting tribute. The Court agreed to match any new donations to the fund up to $175,000 if they are raised before November 1, 2011.
“The LRAP allows lawyers who are burdened with student loan debt to more affordably handle it, and focus on their work that benefits the disadvantaged citizens among us. It helps countless people across the state.” Abeska also donates to Indiana Legal Services and continues to contribute to his local pro bono district.
“I have an obligation to give back to the profession. The LRAP is one good way to give back,” he said.
No Prosperity Without Giving Back
“I have been fortunate to achieve some professional success. You can’t prosper in a community without giving back to a community. You can’t prosper in a profession without giving back to a profession.
That motivation, and basic Christian charity explains why I do what I do,” said Abeska. In addition, Barnes & Thornburg has a long standing strong commitment to pro bono, which I fully support.
Abeska’s giving is not limited solely to his financial resources. He serves on the Foundation’s Board of Directors and has raised funds from colleagues for local and state civic education programs. He also sits on the Board of the St. Joseph County Bar Foundation, has volunteered for the Robert A. Grant Inn of the Courts and for the local United Way. In addition to these volunteer efforts, Abeska also takes pro bono cases of his own.
“Historically I took more pro bono cases. I have one case now. It is harder now to take pro bono takes because so many of them are outside my area of practice, and it is hard to avoid conflicts of interest in a smaller community.”
“Our system of justice is the best there is – not perfect – but it beats any alternative. People encounter the judicial system and need lawyers to advocate for them. Those same people, often through no fault of the own, cannot afford an attorney.” The LRAP enables fellow Hoosiers to “get a fairer shake,” he reflected.