Legal Aid/Pro Bono

Resource Guide

While legal professionals understand the necessity for all people, despite their financial situations, to have access to legal assistance, the demand for free legal services often outweighs availability. Many states have reduced this gap by developing innovative programs, such as requiring attorneys to do pro bono work or to provide low bono, pre-paid and unbundled legal services, but the limited number of attorneys actually volunteering their services makes it a difficult feat to overcome.

Links to related online resources are listed below. Non-digitized publications may be borrowed from the NCSC Library; call numbers are provided.


Featured Links

Zorza, Richard. Public Libraries and Access to Justice. (2010). Future Trends in State Courts. Courts are working with public libraries to provide court-related information to selfrepresented litigants. The Internet is a key component of this effort.

Public Interest Law Organizations

ABA State Directory of Pro Bono Opportunities. This web site provides links to pro bono opportunities in all fifty states, with over 1,000 programs in their listing.
Alliance for Justice. A Web site dedicated to the advocacy of the following areas: judicial advocacy; nonprofit advocacy; foundation advocacy; and student advocacy.
American Bar Association Center for Pro Bono. This is a project of the ABA’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service. Links include pro bono news; volunteering; ABA pro bono and other information resources; clearinghouse library; a directory of local pro bono programs; and a law school public interest and pro bono programs directory.
Center for Law and Social Policy. CLASP concentrates on family policy and access to civil legal assistance for low-income families. Family policy projects include welfare reform, workforce development, child care, child support enforcement, child welfare, couples and marriage policy, and reproductive health and teen parents. Civil legal assistance projects include "general counsel" to LSC-funded programs and the Project for the Future of Equal Justice.
Children`s Defense Fund. Provides numerous services with the best interest of the child being emphasized. The needs of poor and minority children and those with disabilities are addressed.
Equal Justice Network. The project is a joint effort of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA) and the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP).
Farmers Legal Action Group.  The organization provides legal services to family farmers and rural communities.
Legal Services Corporation. LSC is a private, nonprofit corporation established by Congress to seek to ensure equal access to justice under the law for all Americans by providing civil legal assistance to those who otherwise would be unable to afford it.
National Center for Law and Economic Justice. The Center is a recognized national leader in using litigation to improve welfare programs. Current major themes in their legal and policy work include: enforcing legal rights, improving program administration and assuring agency accountability; promoting access to benefits for persons with disabilities; promoting access to food stamps and Medicaid; and promoting access to quality child care.
National Center for Poverty Law. NCPL is a legal and policy research, communications, and advocacy organization dedicated to achieving social and economic justice for low-income people. The Web site provides access to a poverty law library and updates of the latest news on poverty law.
National Equal Justice Library. An online research resource for individuals who want to learn about the history of legal aid and indigent criminal defense in the United States and other countries
National Health Law Program. The National Health Law Program is a national public interest law firm that seeks to improve health care for America's working and unemployed poor, minorities, the elderly, and people with disabilities.
National Senior Citizens Law Center. The site provides access to news, publications, issues, and cases related to elderly individuals and persons with disabilities.
National Veterans Legal Services Program. NVLSP helps veterans who, because of the effects of military service, have been unable to share in opportunities available to most Americans. The site also provides links to other veterans Web sites.
Pro Bono Institute. The Pro Bono Institute focuses on improving access to the civil justice system for low- and moderate-income persons and the organizations that serve their needs. Their activities include the Law Firm Pro Bono Project, which helps law firms to develop effective pro bono programs and make them part of their practice, philosophy, and culture.
Public Counsel Law Center. Public Counsel is the largest pro bono law office in the nation. Their areas of interest include child care law, homelessness prevention, children's rights, immigration, consumer law, major litigation, and community development.
Public Interest Clearinghouse. Provides information, support, and statewide coordination to the legal services community to enhance the delivery of legal services to the indigent. In that regard, the clearinghouse explores innovative technology solutions, assists law students committed to public interest work, creates training opportunities for advocates, communicates critical information, and advocates for legal services programs.
Southern Poverty Law Center. A nonprofit organization that combats hate, intolerance, and discrimination through education and litigation. Its programs include the Intelligence Project, Teaching Tolerance, and Tolerance.org.
Trial Lawyers for Public Justice.  Provides links to this organization’s work regarding unnecessary secrecy in the courts, mandatory arbitration abuse, federal preemption of injury victims' claims, and class action abuse.

State Directories

American Bar Association Programs. Provides contact information and Web links to pro bono programs for all fifty states.
Building State Justice Communities: A State Planning Report from the Legal Services Corporation. (2001). Washington, DC: Legal Services Corporation This report examines state planning in 18 states. It reports on changes in legal services delivery that each state has made since the Legal Services Corporation issued its call for state planning six years ago. (NCSC Library call number KF336. B85)
LSC Program Directory. Provides contact information and Web links to Legal Services programs for all fifty states and statistics on the poverty population and on annual state funding for related programs.

Ethical Issues and Requirements for Lawyers Providing Legal Services

ABA Center for Professional Responsibility.  The Center provides national leadership and vision in developing and interpreting standards, as well as scholarly resources in legal ethics, professional regulation, professionalism, and client protection mechanisms.
ABA Model Rule 6.1 Voluntary Pro Bono.  Provides information on the policy regarding voluntary pro bono work.
ABA Pro Bono Policies.  Provides information for various pro bono policies.
ABA Standards for Programs Providing Civil Pro Bono Legal Services to Persons of Limited Means.  Includes standards for program governance, program effectiveness, relations with clients and volunteers, and effective delivery of service
ABA State Pro Bono Service Rules. Provides state-by-state information regarding the policies of each state concerning pro bono ethics rules.

The Need for Legal Services

Advisory Committee on New York State Pro Bono Bar Admission Requirements. (2012).

Report to the Chief Judge of the State of New York and the Presiding Justices of the Four Appellate Division Departments concerning the proposal to require prospective attorneys to spend 50 hours performing pro bono work as a requirement for admission to the bar of the State of New York. This requirement arose primarily to respond to the crisis in access to justice.

Chebium, Raju. Lawyers Continue Pro Bono Service though Work Pressures Mount. (September 2000). CNN.com Law Center
Ronald J. Tabak. The Private Bar's Efforts to Secure Proper Representation for Those Facing Execution. (2008). Justice System Journal 29, no.3.

This article discusses how private bars, especially the ABA, attempt to ensure proper representation for those who may be executed.

Prepaid Legal Services

ABA Prepaid Legal Services. Provides basic information about prepaid legal services. In addition, the ABA Prepaid Legal Services Institute has compiled a partial list of group and prepaid legal plan sources.
American Prepaid Legal Services Institute. API provides information about how prepaid and other legal service plans work.

Court Rules

Unbundled Legal Services

AJS Pro Se Forum. This web site, hosted by the American Judicature Society, serves as a forum for discussion of pro se issues and includes information on the 1999 National Conference on Pro Se Litigation, a list of resources, and links to state and local self-help sites.
Hornsby, William. Improving the Delivery of Affordable Legal Services Through the Internet: A Blueprint for the Shift to a Digital Paradigm. (2002). American Bar Association Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services
Mosten Mediation. This web site, hosted by family lawyer and mediator Forrest (Woody) Mosten, includes links to resources for lawyers and clients interested in the unbundled model of service delivery.
Pro Se/Unbundling Resource Center. This web site, hosted by the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services, includes a bibliography of articles, books, case law, ethics opinions, and court rules related to unbundled legal services.
The Maryland Experiment. (September 1997). Wisconsin Lawyer 70
Mosten, Forrest and Lee Borden. Unbundled Legal Services. (2000). Presented at the Academy of Family Mediators
Molvig, Diane. Unbundling Legal Services. (September 1997). Wisconsin Lawyer 70
Zorza and Associates. This web site, hosted by consultant Richard Zorza, includes resources on legal ethics related to unbundled legal services and technology.