Pro Bono and Volunteer Programs
How Do Pro Bono or Volunteer Programs Improve Access to Justice? 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. Volunteer programs involving attorneys, law students, or universities offer another source of free or low cost legal assistance.
2012 Pro Bono Publico Award Recipient: Each year the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service presents five awards to individual lawyers and institutions in the legal profession that have demonstrated outstanding commitment to volunteer legal services for the poor and disadvantaged. This year’s recipients included a court which is unusual as many judges and government attorneys feel constrained by an erroneous assumption that ethics rules prevent them from becoming involved in pro bono activities. The New York Supreme Court, Fourth Department , established the department’s Policy Statement on Pro Bono Legal and Volunteer Services, the first pro bono policy for appellate-court lawyers and staff in New York State. The policy encourages appellate-court lawyers to set a personal goal of achieving at least 20 hours of pro bono service per year.
For Additional Resources see:
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.
ABA Model Rule 6.1 Voluntary Pro Bono. Provides information on the policy regarding voluntary pro bono work.
Supporting Justice III A Report on the Pro Bono Work of America’s Lawyers American Bar Association (2013). This is the third in a series of reports assessing the level of pro bono participation in America and identifying strategies for expanding pro bono legal services in the country.
Access to Justice on Campus . This website offers responses to the U.S. Department of Justice Access to Justice Initiative request to participating law schools to discuss how they are institutionalizing their commitment to pro bono and public service.
Access to Justice for Victims of Domestic Violence Project . U.S. Department of Justice This fact sheet describes the project that will train third year law students in a holistic model of representation for domestic violence victims.
Center for Law and Social Policy. CLASP concentrates on family policy and access to civil legal assistance for low-income families.
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).
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.
The Law Firm Pro Bono Project has released the Report on the 2011 Pro Bono Institute Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge. This year's data shows that Challenge firms performed 4.48 million hours of pro bono, a slight increase over last year's numbers and the third highest year since the Challenge began in 1995.
Rural Pro Bono Delivery: A Guide to Pro Bono Legal Services in Rural Areas
. American Bar Association. (2003).
Supporting Justice II: A Report on the Pro Bono Work of America's Lawyers. American Bar Association. (Feburary 2009)
Selected State Resources:
Access to Justice: The Role of New York’s Law Schools . This Report is based on a conference convened by the Task Force to Expand Access to Civil Legal Services in New York at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law on May 22, 2012.
Lippman, Jonathan Hon. Opening Remarks Access to Justice: The Role of New York’s Law Schools (May 2012).
William C. Vickrey, Nicole Claro-Quinn and Martha Wright. Courts and Universities Partner to Improve Access to Justice for All Californians. (2011). National Center for State Courts, Future Trends in State Courts (2011).
The JusticeCorps program aims to assist California courts in meeting the needs of self-represented litigants by recruiting and training college students to work in legal self-help centers.
CTLawHelp's Pro Bono Portal is a one-stop resource for attorneys who would like to provide free legal assistance to people with very low income in the state of Connecticut. The site includes FAQs, Training opportunities, and a Catalog of Pro Bono Opportunities .