Lane Weinberg: Super Results From Pro Bono Bet

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As Giants head to the Super Bowl, San Francisco attorney Lane Weinberg makes good on his wager with a New York City counterpart, offering pro bono legal services for indigent clients.

As human beings, if we’re in a position to help someone who needs it, we always should.

The New York Giants’ thrilling overtime win in Sunday’s NFC Championship didn’t only send Big Blue to Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis – it brought a ray of hope to people on two coasts in desperate need of free legal assistance.

San Francisco attorney Lane Weinberg and New York City attorney David Barros, former roommates at Northwestern University Law School, have been best friends and bitter sports rivals for over 20 years. California native Weinberg is a major fan of Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants and the fabled Forty-Niners of the National Football League; Brooklyn, New York, native Barros naturally supports such legendary franchises as MLB’s New York Yankees and the NFL’s New York Giants.

While their sporting rivalry is mostly friendly, the two have been known to place heavy wagers when their respective favorites square off. So, when the football Giants faced the Niners in this week’s National Football Conference championship game, it was only natural the two attorneys had a little action on the side.

Only, it wasn’t so little. And unlike previous wagers in their betting history – including round-trip airfare to Las Vegas, a month’s rent in their respective offices and tickets to numerous sporting events – the spoils of this bet wouldn’t directly benefit the winner.

With a Super Bowl berth on the line, Lane Weinberg and Barros each put up 50 hours of pro bono legal service for the benefit of indigent persons. The loser, according to Weinberg, would spend the time representing destitute clients in the other lawyer’s city on issues including homelessness, termination of public benefits and others.

“It was actually David’s idea, but I was all for it,” Lane Weinberg said. “We all forget sometimes about the less-fortunate members of our society, especially when there’s not a Thanksgiving food drive or a Christmas toy drive to remind us. They’re out there, winter, spring, summer and fall, struggling to survive, every day.

“David and I are both fortunate to live comfortable lives,” Weinberg added. “We’ve worked hard to build these lives, but there’s no doubt we’ve been blessed. And if we can do something that assists others who haven’t been as fortunate, we’re very happy to do it.”

Each attorney regularly performs pro bono work in his respective city – Lane Weinberg dedicates “about 10 percent” of his professional time to free services, he said – so both Weinberg and Barros easily provided a long list of desperate clients with pressing legal issues, including many homeless persons.

“Lane Weinberg and I are both intimately familiar with the plight of the homeless,” Barros noted. “My practice focuses more on family law and Lane’s has more personal injury cases, but we’ve both worked with homeless clients on a number of issues and we know the uphill battle they face.”

Even though he won the bet and is happy to collect Lane Weinberg’s 50 hours, Barros – perhaps giddy with Super Bowl fever – has pledged to donate some time to indigent clients in San Francisco. While Weinberg logs hours with the New York City-based Coalition for the Homeless, Barros said he plans to contact the San Francisco-based Homeless Youth Alliance, where Lane Weinberg is a regular visitor.

“Lane has told me about the work they do and what some of those kids go through,” Barros noted. “I’m happy to offer some help, since Lane will be busy boning up on New York statutes. Of course, I still won the bet. The Giants are still going to the Super Bowl, and Lane Weinberg lost huge. In the scope of our rivalry, that’s what matters most.”

For Weinberg, who graduated Northwestern Law alongside Barros in 1989, the agony of this particular loss is ultimately soothed by the good the two attorneys are doing in their rival’s hometown.

“I enjoy helping others,” Lane Weinberg said. “I firmly believe that, as human beings, if we’re in a position to help someone who needs it, we always should. And Dave feels the same way.”

About Lane Weinberg
Northwestern University Law School graduate Lane Weinberg is a San Francisco, California-based attorney focused on personal injury matters. A staunch advocate of the homeless in San Francisco and other cities, he’s an avid chess player in his spare time. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, Lorna, and their three children.

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