This could be one of the most rewarding experiences in your life as a lawyer.
How Does it Work?
Before we attempt to place a pro bono case with a volunteer attorney, we are in contact with the prospective client several times, including one comprehensive interview where we determine income eligibility. We discuss the client’s legal situation in detail, so that we have the relevant information to determine what area of expertise and level of experience are necessary to properly assist each client. We ask each client to have any court or other legal documents sent to us, so that we know that the client will have these documents ready for the pro bono attorney when their representation begins.
When we attempt to find an attorney who is willing to take a given pro bono case, we take into account the particulars of the client’s case as it relates to an attorney’s areas of expertise. We also take into account how recently an attorney has taken other pro bono cases from us, and if the attorney has told us they are limited in any other ways.
it's Your decision
When we ask an attorney to take on a case, he or she is not obligated to accept the case; he or she may decline to accept it now, in the hopes that he or she will be able to accept another case later. The attorney is also not obligated to pursue the exact legal course of action that a client has requested; the attorney is serving the client by giving his or her best legal advice, and if that advice is to take another course of action, then that is the advice we want the attorney to give the client.
When we contact an attorney, we ask that that attorney respond to our office with a definite answer within a matter of days of receiving our request for assistance; because we need to move on to finding another attorney as soon as possible, we would rather get a “no” within a reasonable time than wait for weeks without hearing back from an attorney. When an attorney does accept a case, we contact the client and give the client the attorney’s name and phone number. It is then up to the client to contact the attorney’s office to make an initial appointment with the attorney.
HAndle like any legal matter
The pro bono representation then proceeds like every other client representation that the attorney might have. If there are serious issues with the representation, or if the client is delinquent in contacting the attorney, the attorney should contact the Volunteer Lawyer Network, but otherwise, the attorney should handle the client and their case just like every other legal matter. At the close of the case, the attorney will report how many hours he or she spent on the case to the Volunteer Lawyer Network (click here for an online form), and we will close the case in our files.