How do I get involved with Pro Bono Partnership?
How does a case get to a pro bono attorney?
Potential pro bono clients call the Legal Aid of Arkansas (LAA) Helpline. The caller is screened for financial eligibility (approximately 125% of the federal poverty level or $34,688 for a family of four). After an initial interview by LAA staff, the client is referred to the Pro Bono Unit who in turn attempts to place the case.
What types of legal matters would I get to work on?
We handle a wide range of civil legal matters including; guardianship, divorce, custody/visitation, order of protection, bankruptcy, debtor/creditor, garnishment, criminal record sealing, tax, contracts, landlord/tenant disputes, evictions, foreclosure, public and subsidized housing, powers of attorney, wills and estates. disability rights, employment rights, and problems with public benefits, including Medicaid, SNAP, TEA, Medicare, and Social Security or SSI.
What is the level of commitment expected of me?
You may volunteer for matters as often or as little as you like. All that we ask is that you complete any matter for which you volunteer. If you are unable to complete a matter for any reason, please contact us as soon as possible, and we will find another volunteer.
I am not a litigator. Are there any pro bono opportunities for me?
There are several pro bono opportunities for attorneys who are not litigators. These include assisting clients at pro se criminal record sealing, estate planning and name/gender marker change clinics.
What about malpractice insurance?
LAA provides primary malpractice insurance for any pro bono case that we refer.
Case acceptance and responsibilities
What is the process for taking a pro bono case?
Our pro bono coordinators will send you a case profile for a case that falls within the substantive areas that you indicated when signing up. We ask that you advise us within five (5) days if a conflict exists or if you will accept the referral. If you accept the referral, we will send you a case description as well as all documents that the client provided to LAA.
NOTE – LAA recommends that you meet with your pro bono client as soon as practicable so that you can both establish expectations and results.
Following the initial call, you will work directly with the client until the matter is complete. The Pro Bono Team is available to provide support as needed and should be updated with the progress of the matter and informed when the matter is complete.
What is the scope of my representation?
You are only expected to handle the specific matter for which you initially volunteered. If the client needs assistance with additional legal matters, ask the client to contact us directly. If you do wish to assist with an additional legal problem, you are also advised to call LAA so that you can get pro bono credit for the second case.
When the representation has ended, we will ask for the following information so that we can provide you the proper pro bono credit:
any new information about the names of attorneys or other volunteers who worked on the referral;
The hours that each individual worked on the referral;
A copy of the documents evidencing the finalization of the case or representation, e.g., final court order, copy of the drafted estate planning documents, final benefits award letter, mediated agreement; and
Amount of any monies awarded or avoided for the client.
What happens to attorney fees if I recover any in my pro bono case?
If you request that the Court order another party besides your client to pay attorney fees and the request is granted and fees are recovered, you may retain the fees. However, please let us know so we note for our records.
Will LAA reimburse me for out-of-pocket expenses?
Attorneys or other volunteers accepting pro bono cases referred from LAA may request and be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses associated with the pro bono case.
These expenses include but are not limited to travel mileage, parking, document requests/copy fees, translations, language line, postage/delivery fees, and expert witness fees. Expenses are reimbursable up to $250. Mileage expenses for out of county volunteer attorneys are not subject to the $250 limit.
If expenses will exceed $250, the volunteer should contact the Pro Bono Director who will get prior approval from the Executive Director or designee.
Out-of-Pocket expenses on pro bono cases should be submitted in a statement to the Pro Bono Coordinator detailing what expenses have been incurred and approved by the Pro Bono Director.