Loving Our Neighbors: Service Opportunities in Northeast Brazil

By Cláudio Antônio Klaus Júnior

Mar 31, 2023 | 12:17 PM

The J. Reuben Clark Law Society is a group of legal professionals dedicated to providing voluntary legal aid to citizens while also promoting the importance of a religious belief system for fostering ethical values in the legal field. In Brazil, the society’s Northeast Chapter has been making strides in advancing access to justice through pro bono events, particularly for marginalized communities.

One notable project carried out by the Northeast Chapter involved providing legal assistance to approximately 80 elderly individuals in need at the ILPI Santa Rita de Cássia long-term care facility in Paulista, Pernambuco. This initiative was conducted in collaboration with the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Pernambuco, specifically the 3rd Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Citizenship of Paulista. The legal aid offered by JRCLS-affiliated lawyers proved crucial in enabling the Public Ministry to pursue legal action against crimes perpetrated against the elderly.

Many residents are placed in these institutions by their families without the consent of the elderly which can result in their rights being restricted. One participant remarked the joy he saw in the eyes of those who realized their rights could lead to opportunities with the help of the JRCLS members. He said, “Having the certainty that the less fortunate could enjoy rights they never dreamed of having–priceless. The peace we all felt was indescribable. All the time spent is worth it.” Reflecting on his participation in the event, JRCLS member, Severino Bezerra noted, the Savior’s second commandment to love your neighbor, “ applies in all areas, especially in law, where many are left aside, with no expectations of being [served] by justice…Rights are only present when they reach the absent.”

The Northeast Chapter’s efforts on behalf of the elderly earned them formal recognition from the Public Ministry of Pernambuco, which paid tribute to the group on August 6, 2014, in Recife. The chapter also garnered the prestigious Outstanding Chapter Award from JRCLS on October 3, 2014, in Aspen Grove, Utah, USA. This honor, which is the highest distinction bestowed upon affiliated units, made the Northeast Chapter the only branch outside the United States to receive such recognition.

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