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Bethany Bacci Receives 2023 Pro Bono Award of Merit

Bethany Bacci
by Ayla Ercin
Executive Director of the Campaign for Equal Justice

Bethany Bacci, a partner at Stoel Rives LLP, has been awarded the 2023 Pro Bono Award of Merit for her many years volunteering with the Legal Aid Services of Oregon (LASO) Night Clinic, and for encouraging pro bono volunteering among lawyers both at her own firm and in the wider legal community.

Bethany has been volunteering through LASO’s Night Clinic since 2003, where she has provided representation to low-income clients on a broad range of issues, including guardianship, collections, wills, rental termination notices, and SSI cases. Although Bethany’s practice at Stoel Rives focuses on employee benefits and not litigation, she has settled damage claims, negotiated on behalf of her clients, and consistently taken on work through legal aid that she describes as “challenging and not always comfortable.” Recently, Bethany accepted a complex emergency guardianship case that involved foreclosure and the need for an immediate temporary guardianship. She considers the work of access to justice too important, and the need too great, not to help.

Bethany does this work because she knows that “advocating for individual rights is foundational to our legal justice system” and her Night Clinic clients wouldn’t otherwise have access to counsel on life-changing legal issues. She also enjoys the work because “it reminds me of the utility of my legal training, even in areas where I’m not an expert.”

The Night Clinic has been providing legal services to low-income clients since 1992 and was designed to increase access to justice by helping clients who can’t get legal help during regular office hours. The Night Clinic is a partnership between LASO and the Portland offices of law firms Stoel Rives LLP and Dunn Carney LLP.

Bethany received her BA from Stanford University before going on to law school at Lewis & Clark. When she earned her JD in 2001, an important part of her decision to join Stoel Rives was the firm’s long history of pro bono advocacy and strong support for pro bono volunteer work. Bethany is now a member of the Stoel Rives Pro Bono Committee, where she continues the tradition of encouraging and supporting pro bono volunteering.  The Pro Bono Committee includes representatives from each of the firm’s offices and is a coordinated, firm-wide initiative to promote a culture of commitment to pro bono.

Jeremy Sacks, chair of the Pro Bono Committee, describes Bethany’s commitment to pro bono: “For years, Bethany has been a leader in Stoel Rives’ pro bono program, both as a lawyer doing pro bono work on a host of topics and as an administrator helping to run our firm pro bono program in our Portland office. She takes her pro bono commitment seriously; her 20-plus years of work at the Night Clinic is just one example of why she’s an attorney who really walks the walk on pro bono.”

Since 2005, Bethany has served on the Board of Directors for Oregon Lawyers Against Hunger, and served as their president from 2009-12. Bethany is also a board member for Pet Peace of Mind, an organization that enriches the quality of life for seriously ill patients and the pets they love. In addition to her direct client work through the Night Clinic, Bethany has also acted as a subject matter expert and advisor to LASO attorneys on issues arising within her area of expertise.

…advocating for individual rights is foundational to our legal justice system.

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