Recommendations to the Legal Services Corporation and Its Grantees
Recommendation 1: LSC Should Serve as an Information Clearinghouse and Source of Coordination and Technical Assistance to Help Grantees Develop Strong Pro Bono Programs.
Every LSC grantee is required to devote a portion of its resources to engaging private lawyers, but there is great variation among grantees in terms of the size, quality, efficiency, and effectiveness of their pro bono programs. Good pro bono programs require solid infrastructure, and there is an opportunity for LSC to engage with and support its grantees by offering training, resources, and guidance on how to build that infrastructure. Of course, there already are many great resources on pro bono,14 like those found on the ABA Center for Pro Bono’s website15 and its Clearinghouse Library16 (which is in the process of an extensive update).17 The Task Force recommends that LSC work collaboratively to bring together and complement those existing resources so that its grantees can make the most of their pro bono programs. Specifically, LSC should:
- Create an Association of Pro Bono Professionals Who Work at LSC-Funded Organizations, in partnership with existing networks, including the National Association of Pro Bono Professionals (NAPBPro), the Association of Pro Bono Counsel (APBCo), and the ABA Center for Pro Bono. We recognize that these organizations already have excellent resources available for legal services agencies; however, what we propose is partnering with them to create a sub group specifically for pro bono professionals working at LSC grantees in support of specific LSC-oriented issues. Through this association, LSC could create the means for its professionals to develop relationships with one another – for example, by providing them with an LSC listserv, offering training via webinar on effective pro bono infrastructure, and setting up regular conference calls. Where possible, LSC also could facilitate in-person meetings, for example, at the annual ABA/ NLADA Equal Justice Conference. The association would offer these pro bono managers a forum for discussing and sharing innovative ways to utilize PAI funds and build strong pro bono cultures within their organizations. LSC also should encourage the professionalization of the role of the pro bono manager within grantees.
- Recommend that Congress create a Pro Bono Innovation/ Incubation Fund. LSC should recommend that Congress or LSC, through funds raised independently from the private bar or interested foundations, create a challenge grant, as has been done through the successful Technology Initiative Grants (TIG) program, aimed at encouraging innovations and best practices in pro bono. We specifically recommend that this challenge grant be a newly-funded program, and that resources not be taken from critically-needed existing funds for LSC grantees.
- Develop a Pro Bono Toolkit. LSC should work with other stakeholders, such as the ABA Center for Pro Bono, to develop and maintain a comprehensive pro bono toolkit, which would accumulate and report on best practices, and provide high-level training, curricula, and resources to legal services agencies in a number of areas, including in the art and skill of managing volunteers. This toolkit should contain guidance on how to evaluate pro bono programs effectively, as described in more detail below, should complement rather than recreate already existing resources, and should build upon LSC’s own strengths, such as in the area of technological innovations for legal services. We recognize that, to be done right, this recommendation requires the infusion of significant resources required to support and leverage pro bono time. Congress, foundations, and other interested donors should consider funding such an effort, including by supporting a full-time staff position at LSC to oversee the project. This support should be in addition to, and not in lieu of, other critically needed funding for legal services.
This report lays out the components of such a toolkit by identifying the key elements of a successful pro bono program,18 including:
- Strong evaluation and metrics that go beyond counting the number of cases or matters handled to ensure that pro bono programs are serving clients and engaging pro bono volunteers effectively;
- Volunteer support, including effective case screening, training, mentoring and oversight, recognition, and malpractice insurance;
- A range of opportunities that reflect the particular interests of and challenges faced by certain segments of the bar, including in-house lawyers, law firm lawyers, small-firm and solo practitioners, inactive and senior lawyers, and government lawyers. Of course, this always should be done with the overall goal of effectively serving client needs;
- Mechanisms to engage non-lawyers, including law students, paralegals, administrative personnel, students at other professional schools, and other non-lawyers;
- Mechanisms for involving pro bono volunteers in providing limited assistance to pro se litigants, and otherwise empowering pro se parties;
- Collaborations among legal services organizations, courts, law schools, bar associations, firms, in-house legal departments, and other members of the bar to increase efficiency across systems and to make the most of limited resources for pro bono;
- A system that incorporates best practices and innovations in technology – an area where LSC already has been a leader;
- Pro bono projects aimed at decreasing overall demand for legal services, such as by engaging private lawyers to tackle systemic issues faced by the poor;
- A strong pro bono culture within the LSC grantee organization; and
- A fundraising strategy, as pro bono programs require the investment of time and resources by legal services staff.
We include more detailed findings about each of these categories below.
a. Evaluating Pro Bono Programs
Over the past decade, the philanthropic sector and, more recently, government funders, have pushed grantees in all social service sectors to collect data, evaluate performance, and assess outcomes. This has been a challenge for the non profit sector, especially at a time when concern about diverting funds away from services is particularly acute and justified. Nonetheless, metrics and evaluation are very important and should be included in every pro bono program.
Current efforts to evaluate pro bono programs are very much a work in progress. To the extent grantees collect data, most are focused on basic case processing, such as the number of clients served or hours donated, with some use of client or volunteer surveys. Efforts to develop more sustained and rigorous evaluation of client outcomes and program effectiveness, particularly in partnership with academic institutions, are in their early stages. LSC and its grantees should focus on this issue by developing more robust standards for evaluating pro bono programs, not only in response to funders, but to guide program development, maximize efficient use of limited resources, better understand client needs, and increase public awareness of the social and economic value of legal services. LSC can then train its program reviewers on using these standards to meaningfully evaluate grantee pro bono efforts, as well as grantee executive directors on how to put evaluations to use in creating stronger programs.
Ms. Jones needed help. She could not find employment because of a 30-year-old misdemeanor on her record and, as a result, had no way to support her family. She wanted to clear her record, but did not know where to start. fortunately, she learned of an expungement clinic hosted by the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, where she met attorney Christopher murray, one of Legal Aid’s 1,600 pro bono volunteers. After getting guidance at the clinic, Ms. Jones filed a pro se expungement with bedford municipal court, which was granted within days. She was able to obtain employment and is now proud to be supporting her family.
Evaluation should be done with careful consideration of the results, starting with the question of what the pro bono program hopes to achieve and then developing methods of measurement designed to assess whether the program has met its goals. Grantees should measure and evaluate all program areas, including limited representation and pro se assistance services. The resources for such efforts should not come at the expense of funding for client services. ms. Jones needed help. She could not find employment because of a 30-year-old misdemeanor on her record and, as a result, had no way to support her family. She wanted to clear her record, but did not know where to start. fortunately, she learned of an expungement clinic hosted by the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, where she met attorney Christopher murray, one of Legal Aid’s 1,600 pro bono volunteers. After getting guidance at the clinic, Ms. Jones filed a pro se expungement with bedford municipal court, which was granted within days. She was able to obtain employment and is now proud to be supporting her family.
To improve evaluation of pro bono activities by LSC-funded organizations, the Task Force recommends that LSC:
- Explore the most effective means of evaluating programs, and provide grantees with support, training, and guidance so that they can do the same. In particular, the legal services community would benefit from the establishment of standards concerning research, assessment, and data collection;
- Provide technical support and training to help grantees implement improved data gathering and outcome measurement. This would include education of executive directors on strategic planning, outcome measurement, and program design and evaluation in order to create quality processes for the assessment of pro bono projects; and
- Consider enlisting business schools, public administration schools, and consulting firms to help develop effective evaluation systems for grantees.
LSC should work collaboratively with others already considering these issues, including the American Bar Association, NLADA, the Pro Bono Institute, APBCo, law schools, law firms, Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA) programs, AJCs, the judiciary, and researchers. Examples of some organizations with efforts already underway can be found here.
b. Offering Volunteer Supports
Private attorneys who undertake pro bono work want: (a) a clear sense of the merits of the case; (b) training; (c) a commitment that there is someone at the legal aid organization they can call for advice and encouragement; (d) malpractice insurance coverage;19 (e) an up-front indication of the professional development opportunities the case will provide; and (f) a sense of timing of the case, as well as potential costs. Placing pro bono matters is more competitive now that law firm pro bono management, particularly in large firms, is more prevalent. As a result, efforts to recruit private lawyers have to be well-managed and offer quality referrals and support. The kinds of matters that LSC grantee attorneys historically encounter generally do not change – they most frequently involve housing, domestic violence/ family law, benefits, veterans, and consumer issues. While creating high-quality training and materials on substantive areas of law for pro bono lawyers involves an initial time investment, that investment results in a resource that can be used for a long time, and the benefits can be substantial. Additionally, engaging pro bono lawyers to help develop training materials is an excellent way to use volunteers in a manner that has a continuing impact.
Grantees that appoint a full-time, skilled pro bono manager (sometimes incorporating training or development responsibilities) find that they can identify and follow through on pro bono opportunities more effectively than grantees that make pro bono recruitment part of everyone’s (and therefore no one’s) job duties. A pro bono volunteer who gets the support outlined above is likely to continue to take cases, may recommend that others do the same, and may even make a financial contribution to the organization.
c. Providing a Range of Pro Bono Opportunities to Engage All Segments of the Bar
Not all lawyers have the time or resources to take on major litigation, and many transactional lawyers would prefer not to do so. Similarly, private lawyers, whether in-house, in the government, or at a large or small firm, often face conflicts that make it impossible for them to take on certain types of civil matters. Many of these lawyers still wish to contribute their time and energy. Therefore, effective pro bono programs should include creative opportunities for limited representation, projects that require only a finite time commitment, and matters that do not pose actual or positional conflicts.
Of course, in designing these programs, the first priority should be fulfilling client need. Too often, other pro bono opportunities are perceived as being more glamorous and thus garner a larger share of the available resources, while poor people struggle to find help addressing legal problems that threaten basic human survival. Great pro bono programs are able to communicate the importance of basic civil legal services and then match the interests and skills of volunteer lawyers with that client need.
The following is a brief outline of the unique challenges facing certain groups of lawyers, including: (1) small firm and solo practitioners, (2) rural lawyers, (3) emeritus/senior and inactive lawyers, (4) government lawyers, and (5) corporate counsel – as well as suggestions for better engaging each group.
1. Small Firm and Solo Practitioners: Lawyers at small and medium firms often lack the institutionalized support, resources, and infrastructure that large firms have. Particularly in rural areas or for solo practitioners, covering out-of-pocket costs can also be a challenge. Yet small and solo firm practitioners are the mainstays of many LSC grantee programs. To the extent possible, LSC grantees wishing to engage these groups thus may consider assisting with out-of-pocket expenses, such as travel costs, legal research, deposition transcripts, and expert witness fees, and should investigate other ways to provide the same types of institutional supports available to larger firm lawyers. To see a few examples of how LSC grantees and other agencies are effectively engaging lawyers at little and medium firms, click here.
2. Rural Lawyers: Engaging lawyers to serve clients in rural areas can be particularly challenging for a variety of reasons. There often are large geographic distances and sometimes natural barriers (mountains, deserts, forests, and impassable roads) between lawyers, clients, and the courthouses that make representation difficult. The limited number of lawyers in a given area also can create issues. Where lawyers are present, they typically are solo practitioners or at very small firms with little support staff and few resources. There may be a mismatch between rural lawyers’ practice expertise and rural clients’ legal needs, and clients may face issues in accessing technology or transportation. Finally, rural lawyers may require technical expertise to work with special populations, such as migrant farm workers or the Native American community.
|Legal Services of Northwest Jersey (LSNWJ), an LSC funded program in a suburban setting, recruits solo practitioners and lawyers from small firms at the local courthouse. LSNWJ later matches those volunteers with clients based on practice area and interest. This informal technique reaches lawyers that LSNWJ’s other recruitment efforts might not. LSNWJ lawyers also take advantage of their suburban setting by connecting personally with their volunteers and as a result, have had success in asking those volunteers to step in in times of trouble – for example, by asking them to help relieve the caseload of a staff attorney who had to go out on medical leave.|
Legal services organizations that operate in rural areas are familiar with these challenges, so their participation is critically important to developing and maintaining effective pro bono programs in rural communities. Under their leadership, several things can be done to successfully engage the private bar to serve rural areas, including:
- Engaging the local judiciary and bar leaders to actively support pro bono efforts;
- Offering free training for CLE credit (which can be particularly valuable for solo and small firm practitioners in rural areas) in exchange for a commitment to handle a pro bono case. This training can be specialized to focus on uniquely rural legal issues, such as how to draft Indian wills;
- Building urban-to-rural bridges. Urban agencies can offer volunteers, expertise, technology, sample forms, model pleadings, legal research, volunteer law students, and guidance on law firm pro bono practices. Rural organizations can, in turn, provide cultural training and local counsel support. Rural programs should not overly rely on urban lawyers, however, as distances and cultural divides can create problems;
- Taking advantage of student rural outreach programs and spring break and summer programs;
- Using local resources, such as libraries, faith-based groups, and social service agencies, to reach client populations and gather volunteers;
- Creating local and county-level pro bono task forces that include community leaders, such as town mayors, county executives and council members, community and religious leaders, directors of social services agencies, and bar leaders;
- Engaging the law departments of corporations located in rural areas;
- Offering opportunities for limited representation or finite time commitments;
- Creating local pro se assistance programs that can be staffed by pro bono lawyers;
- Using technology to share resources among agencies, reach clients in remote locations, and train volunteers (while recognizing that technology cannot begin to cover what local lawyers or legal services agencies do on behalf of clients); and
- Encouraging stakeholders to look at access to justice issues on a statewide level, so that systems are developed and resources allocated to rural as well as urban populations. This concept is discussed in further detail below.
|With over twenty offices and only fifty staff lawyers, California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA) covers thousands of miles of the agricultural and migrant areas of California. It does not cover any big cities with large law firms, but the organization has built relationships with large urban law firms to assist in rural field offices. CRLA also works with local bar associations and sponsors clinics and workshops to train private attorneys in unfamiliar areas of law. In 2010, CRLA served 48,617 people, including 31% of migrant cases handled by LSC organizations nationwide.|
A few examples of programs that are effectively operating in rural communities can be found here.
3. Emeritus/Senior and Inactive Lawyers: By 2020, retirees will account for almost one-half of all lawyers.20 Programs engaging senior and retired lawyers in pro bono work have existed for many years, but interest in mobilizing them has sharpened as a result of the enormous growth to come in this segment of the profession. Inactive lawyers also are a potentially significant resource, as they include not only senior lawyers, but also those who are not working as lawyers but still wish to be engaged, as well as law professors who are not otherwise practicing.
While there have been some innovative projects for engaging inactive lawyers, no model has emerged to date that has proven to be scalable. Due to varying state emeritus rules, senior lawyers also may face obstacles to doing pro bono work.21 Some suggestions for effectively engaging them include:
- Providing access to resources, including office space, support staff, mentors, and research materials;
- Providing training, supervision, and mentoring;
- Creating opportunities that accommodate flexible schedules and allow attorneys to work from home;
- Informing would-be volunteers that malpractice insurance is available to them; and
- Amending state practice rules to encourage and remove obstacles to participation (further discussed in the state practice rules section below).
For examples of programs that have effectively engaged senior and inactive lawyers, click here.
4. Government Lawyers: Well over 100,000 attorneys work for the federal government, and thousands more are employed by state and local governments.22 Government lawyers are potentially a major resource for pro bono assistance, but they also face unique obstacles. Unlike law firm volunteers, government attorneys generally cannot handle pro bono cases during work time and cannot rely on their employers to provide clerical support or cover out-of-pocket costs. Federal government lawyers frequently are not members of the bar in the jurisdictions in which their offices are located. Both federal and state government lawyers cannot handle cases that might put them at odds with their employer and are subject to additional statutory conflict of interest restrictions that may prevent them from taking on certain types of cases. There also can be a perception that because their full-time jobs are public service, they have a lesser (or no) obligation to perform pro bono work. Some also believe that allowing government attorneys to perform pro bono work during business hours is a misuse of public dollars.
|After 45 years in private practice, howard Goffen retired from the full-time practice of law and began volunteering for LAf (Legal Assistance foundation) in Chicago. Since that time, he has become their most committed, talented, dedicated, and selfless pro bono volunteer, contributing over 7,000 hours of his time and representing hundreds of LAf clients. As a result of his years of experience, he also has ser ved as a guide and mentor to many of LAf’s staff. mr. Goffen received the coveted AbA Pro bono Publico Award for his service in August 2012.|
There are, however, proven strategies for addressing the challenges government lawyers face. There has been significant growth in recent years in the involvement of government lawyers in pro bono work.23 For example, the District of Columbia has a special exception to its unauthorized practice of law rule, D.C. Appellate Rule 49(c)(9)(C), that allows federal government attorneys in good standing in another jurisdiction but not admitted in the District to undertake pro bono cases under the auspices of a free legal services provider, if they are supervised by an active member of the D.C. Bar.24 Additionally, in several states that exempt government attorneys from bar fees or CLE requirements as long as they do not practice law outside of their government jobs, the rules explicitly state that pro bono work does not waive the exemption.25
In general, the most successful pro bono programs for government lawyers: (i) do not require bar membership in the jurisdiction; (ii) involve matters that are not adverse to a government entity; and (iii) require only finite time commitments outside of work. To see a few examples of such programs, click here.
5. Corporate Counsel: There has been a significant increase in the number of in-house departments engaging in pro bono work over the past few years.26 Engaging corporate counsel can have many benefits beyond the client services they provide, as corporate counsel can leverage their law firm contacts to bring even more lawyers into the fold. Some corporate law departments even include specific questions about pro bono when soliciting law firms for billable work and in their overall evaluation of law firms. Many legal departments also provide financial support for civil legal services.
|In the District of Columbia, nine federal agencies staff the D.C. bar’s monthly Saturday morning walk-in Advice & Referral Clinics and accept more cases for representation from the D.C. bar’s Advocacy & Justice Clinic than any participating law firm. Over 200 federal government lawyers also have been trained to draft wills through LSC-grantee Neighborhood Legal Services Program’s Wills Clinic.|
In engaging corporate legal departments, it is important to understand the motivations that guide corporate counsel, as well as the special constraints under which they work. Many corporate departments wish to create pro bono programs that tie into their corporate responsibility (CR) efforts. Thus, if the company’s CR policies focus on homelessness, the in-house lawyers may wish to focus their pro bono work on homelessness. In-house lawyers also often use pro bono as a means of team-building within their legal departments, and therefore wish to involve staff as well as lawyers on pro bono projects.
Working with corporate counsel also presents challenges similar to those involved in working with government lawyers. Many in-house lawyers are not located in the jurisdictions in which they are admitted, may face conflicts as a result of their particular practice, and likely do not have malpractice insurance. In addition to amending state practice rules to address these issues (as discussed in further detail elsewhere in this report), opportunities to overcome these obstacles include:
- Making pro bono matters more manageable by partnering in house lawyers with law firms and other outside organizations;
- Creating projects that are time-limited and predictable in nature, such as pro bono clinic opportunities or limited scope engagements;
- Encouraging in-house counsel to venture outside of their primary practice areas by providing quality training, mentoring, and support;
- Using technology to interact remotely with pro bono clients, where appropriate; and
- Creating in-house pro bono teams so that colleagues can step in if scheduling conflicts or workload issues develop.
Finally, engendering support for pro bono programs at the general counsel or other senior level is essential for an effective program, both to reinforce that pro bono is highly valued and to help resolve workload issues. For examples of programs that engage in-house counsel, click here.
d. Engaging Non-Lawyers as Pro Bono Volunteers
One LSC grantee pro bono manager interviewed for this report told us that she receives many calls from paralegals and law students who want to volunteer, but that she does not know how to engage them. This likely is a common issue, and yet there are ways in which non-lawyers, particularly law students and paralegals, can make real contributions. LSC and its grantees should collect examples of the engagement of non-lawyer volunteers – including law students,27 paralegals, administrative staff, and others, as well as pro se litigants – and educate grantees about how to utilize them effectively, and the limitations of using non-lawyers and pro se models. The following is a brief summary of the Task Force’s findings with regard to these groups.
|Developed by representatives at Symantec, hP, and Apple in 2009, the bay Area Corporate Pro bono Co-operative (the Co-op) assists corporate legal departments with doing pro bono work. The Co-op helps engage employees, facilitates training, and provides a web-based attorney sign-up system. To become involved, a corporate legal department simply contacts the Co-op coordinators (two volunteer firm attorneys) to develop a pro bono program tailored to the department’s needs. The Co-op organizes organizes training, helps with logistics, and provides continuing support to the volunteers. After attending a training session, volunteers can register for pro se advice clinics run by bay Area legal services providers using an online reservation system. Since its establishment, the Co-op has gained additional members, including Cisco, Adobe, SAP, Google and NetApp, and has partnered with three local legal services agencies to provide staffing for clinics and later mentoring on cases.|
1. Law Students: The engagement of future lawyers in pro bono work can instill an early commitment to and support for pro bono. Law schools take varying approaches to pro bono. Some schools, such as Columbia, Harvard, Loyola University Los Angeles, University of Pennsylvania, and Roger Williams University make it a mandatory requirement for graduation. Others, such as NYU and Stanford, achieve high levels of participation by actively promoting pro bono.28 Of course, many schools engage students through clinical education. Others are considering new ways to involve law students, such as through law school Cyber Clinics,29 which offer credit to law students for developing content for statewide legal aid websites. To see other examples of how law students are being engaged, click here.30
Of course, using law students, especially outside of a clinical setting, is complicated by their lack of experience, limitations on their ability to practice law, and the lack of a coordinated effort to guide student advocates toward areas of practice where the need is greatest. These constraints must shape any effort to engage law students and necessitate a special premium on training and supervision.
LSC also should consider looking beyond law schools for pro bono help, by possibly involving business, public administration, medical, social work, or undergraduate schools, or within paralegal training programs. These students, for example, could advise LSC grantees on non-profit management, help them create strategic plans, or assist with intake at a legal clinic. By creating early bridges within these communities, budding community and financial leaders will learn about the importance of legal services and, we hope, make a lifetime commitment to the issue.
2. Paralegals and Administrative Personnel: In addition to engaging private attorneys, LSC grantees should consider ways in which they can involve other members of the law firm community in pro bono – including paralegals and other administrative staff. These staff members often have a wealth of knowledge about the legal profession, an enormous amount of experience, and a desire to give back to the community. With the right training and supervision, they can be a tremendous resource.
3. Other Non-Lawyers: Several federal programs permit non-lawyers to serve clients, including applying for Medicaid, food stamps, housing, Social Security, immigration relief, and veterans benefits. The Colorado Cross Disability Coalition (CCDC), for example, uses non-lawyers to file benefits applications, appear in administrative law proceedings, present evidence, prepare and file briefs, or simply listen to client stories. The Benefit Bank (TBB) provides another online model for engaging non-lawyers. A proprietary web-based resource, TBB provides web-based guidance to help volunteers conduct eligibility assessments and file applications for programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, otherwise known as Food Stamps), Medicaid, Medicare Part D, child care subsidies, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and various other federal programs. To learn more about CCDC and TBB, click here.
|Since 1982, the minnesota Justice foundation (mJf) has coordinated a unique collaboration of minnesota’s four law schools. As a result, more than 150 statewide legal services providers work with a single point of entry into the law student volunteer pool. During the 2011-2012 school year, mJf created and filled two thousand law student volunteer placements.|
e. Using Pro Bono Lawyers to Assist Pro Se Litigants
Pro se drop-in clinics, help desk programs, and online resources are an important means of empowering those who otherwise would not have legal assistance. At the same time, these models offer a limited-representation opportunity to lawyers who may not be able to make a larger commitment of time or resources – including government, in-house, or rural lawyers and solo practitioners. In Chicago, for example, the Coordinated Advice and Referral Program for Legal Services (CARPLS) uses paid and volunteer staff to screen and refer more than 60,000 cases a year. CARPLS also provides self-help materials to empower callers to proceed pro se. The Volunteer Lawyers Network (VLN) in Minneapolis recruits and trains lawyers to staff a local self-help center. VLN provides onsite staff support, recruits student volunteers, and provides screening, forms, and informational materials. Finally, a number of comprehensive websites and tutorials aimed at empowering pro se litigants also exist, such as the Connecticut Network for Legal Aid.31 You can read more about programs working to empower pro se litigants here.
|The Chicago bar foundation (Cbf) has developed a “prescription pad,” which lists all the help desks in state and federal courts in Cook County, and describes the types of cases they handle, the degree of help they offer, and their hours of operation. many local legal aid organizations use the “prescription pad” to make referrals. In 2011, the various help desks in the city collectively helped more than 65,000 people – all of whom were already in court and in desperate need of assistance.|
f. Encouraging Collaboration and Resource Sharing Among Pro Bono Programs
A recent report issued by the American Bar Foundation found that the network of non-profits and other agencies providing legal services across the country lacks coordination. Hence, the overall quality of legal services delivery varies greatly on a state-by-state and region-byregion basis.32 LSC and its grantees have a real opportunity to change that trend by bringing together key stakeholders, both at a state and local level, to address access to justice issues in a more coordinated and efficient manner. Led by LSC, these collaborative efforts should include LSC grantees, the judiciary, bar associations, law schools, and the private sector.
There are so many ways in which members of the legal community can work together to address the justice gap and promote pro bono. They can collaborate on fundraising and drafting grant proposals. They can work together to train pro bono lawyers or combine recruiting efforts. Individual lawyers and law firms can partner to tackle critical systemic issues facing LSC grantees’ clients, as they have in Richmond, Virginia, where a consortium of ten law firms has developed the “Firms in Service” model to facilitate collaboration rather than competition for pro bono projects among firms. Community members can work together to publicize the need for civil legal services and the importance of doing pro bono work. They can share the cost of hosting events to recognize volunteers. And community stakeholders can form partnerships to tackle tough problems in the community, such as a judge teaming up with a local legal aid program and a corporate in-house department to create and staff a help desk at a local court.
|The Bar Association of San francisco’s Volunteer Legal Services Program (VLSP) and LSC-grantee bay Area Legal Aid (bayLegal) worked together to set up a toll-free number for intake. BayLegal handles the first intake interview and enters information into a database that addresses both bayLegal’s and VLSP’s requirements. The information in the database then enables VLSP to run a conflict check and follow-up with a short (usually ten minute) second-level intake interview. This process allows the two entities to share information and results in better referrals to pro bono lawyers without a lengthy follow-up interview.|
The Pro Bono Collaborative in Rhode Island is one great example of how much can be accomplished through collaboration. That organization uses a staff of two part-time attorneys to act as an intermediary and form partnerships among non profit community organizations, law firms, and law schools to work on pro bono matters together.
With recent changes in technology, in particular, there is great potential for people to work together through virtual legal networks, which can match pro bono lawyers with opportunities to volunteer, offer training and mentoring, highlight pro bono successes, and provide administrative support, all in a single, on-line platform. Such networks also can offer legal services organizations the chance to reduce their own costs by sharing resources and empowering pro se litigants by arming them with information.
Illinois Legal Aid Online (ILAO), for example, offers a library for would-be pro bono lawyers and pro se litigants, a list of volunteer opportunities, a calendar of upcoming trainings, and opportunities for mentorship. It also highlights successful pro bono and legal aid lawyers on its home page and is working to create a statewide online platform for legal aid providers so that they do not each have to shoulder the expense of creating their own.
Many other legal services organizations are collaborating to share one IT platform for screening and placing cases, which creates a one-stop shop of options for clients and volunteers, tracks needs and outcomes on a system-wide basis, and saves the cost of developing and maintaining duplicate platforms. This is what legal aid providers in Philadelphia are doing, working together to develop a common case-management software system that allows one organization to screen a case, refer it to another without rescreening, and even track outcomes and trends after services are provided.
Additional examples of terrific collaborative efforts around the country can be found here.
g. Using Technology to Support Pro Bono Programs
The greatest change in the practice of law over the past thirty years has been the revolution in information technology. Since 2000, when Congress first appropriated special funds for its Technology Initiative Grants (TIG) program, LSC has been a leader in the development and use of technology among its grantees, including for use in administering their pro bono programs. In 2008, LSC issued a report entitled Technologies That Should Be in Place in a Legal Aid Office Today33 (commonly referred to as the “Baselines Report”), which addresses best practices in technology related to the management of client and case data, intake and telephone advice, support for private attorneys, data security, and training. The Baselines Report continues to serve as an important resource for the civil legal aid community.
New technologies have emerged since the Baselines Report was issued, however, with the development of tools such as cloud computing, the rise of social media and the virtual office, and new means of data storage and information sharing. LSC should update its Baselines Report to include those technologies and to make recommendations on how to use technology collaboratively at the state and local levels.34
|Following a study by bar associations in the Twin Cities, the private bar and leading legal services providers in the area created Call for Justice LLC, a comprehensive telephone referral system. Call for Justice builds on existing infrastructure by using the united Way’s 211 system. The 211 information and referral specialists are trained about existing community legal resources and are given real-time information on availability, priority, and eligibility for services. The technology used by 211 also permits extensive data collection to facilitate ongoing assessment of the program.|
LSC grantees should, to the extent possible, have in place for the management of their pro bono programs:
A Pro Bono Website: Early in its work, TIG developed two website templates, eliminating the need for LSC and other legal services organizations to undertake their own web development. Grantees and other organizations in the vast majority of states and territories use one of these two templates, and they currently are being adapted for mobile browsing. Ideally, every website should:35
- o Allow pro bono lawyers to review available cases and volunteer to take them online. At the very least, case opportunities should be sent to volunteers via e-mail. A pro bono computer program currently in development, LawGives, attempts to recommend specific pro bono opportunities to lawyers that are most in line with their practice areas, geography, and expressed interests;
- Include calendars for training opportunities;
- Provide online training and resource materials for pro bono lawyers. This should include access to recorded trainings and, where allowed under state rules, the opportunity to obtain CLE credit for viewing them, as well as sample pleadings and forms;
- Provide live online help for volunteers. Several states’ pro bono sites now use such a “live chat” feature, through which pro bono managers can take turns being available to respond to questions that pop up on their computers while they are doing other work; and
- Have the ability to push information out through an RSS feed.36 Programs such as Outlook and Google have RSS readers that users can subscribe to. Subscribers then are notified automatically when new information is posted to the website rather than having to go to the website to find it. The GeorgiaAdvocates.org site, for example, pushes out material posted on its news page to subscribers using this method.
A Case Management System (CMS) for Pro Bono Cases: Generally, LSC grantees’ case management systems are used for keeping track of cases reported to LSC and recording time, but they can be used to facilitate pro bono as well. A pro bono manager can use a CMS to match a prospective client with an attorney by searching for selected criteria. For example, the manager could look for a lawyer with no open pro bono cases who speaks Spanish to take on a divorce case in a particular county. The system might even do some of the work for the manager. Rather than having to do a search, when the manager clicks the “Assign Case” button, only those attorneys who match the criteria are selected as possibilities. Other CMS features that might facilitate pro bono work include:
- The ability to integrate, modify, and personalize form e-mails and other correspondence. Some CMS systems allow for the creation of a complete referral packet consisting of letters to the client and pro bono attorney, any documents the client has supplied, and legal information on the case type with links to automated forms, any of which can be tailored for a particular type of case.
- The ability to collect information pertinent to the client’s legal problem. Volunteer lawyers can then access that information via a secure log-in and record then calls can be routed to the case notes and time records so volunteer. If the volunteer is trained they are all stored in one place. to do an eligibility screen, callers can be routed to the volunteer
- The ability to monitor the progress of a case, track expenditures, and record attorney time.
- The ability to designate a given
|The Legal Services National Technology Assistance Project (LSNTAP) began in 2001 with funding from LSC’s TIG program. Originally housed at the Legal Aid Society of Orange County, LSNTAP’s mission was to help legal aid programs across the uS improve client services through effective and innovative use of technology. Now housed at the Northwest Justice Project, LSNTAP continues to serve as a national support center and clearinghouse for technology. It provides a full online portal for attorneys seeking technology training, online technology resources, and social media networking, including a listserv and blog.|
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in support of pro bono service delivery, focusing on five areas in which social media can assist in supporting or strengthening a program: marketing, recruitment, fundraising, intelligence gathering, and extending accolades.42 Social media also can be used to:
- Inform the public and lawyers of pro bono news and upcoming events, such as clinics and training. The State Bar of Alabama Volunteer Lawyers Program uses Twitter during the annual ABA Pro Bono Celebration. The ABA Center for Pro Bono uses Twitter to highlight pro bono news and events across the country.
- Fundraise and recruit additional volunteers,43 including those (like many emeritus lawyers) who lack office space or work from a virtual office. The State Bar of Georgia Pro Bono Project tweets links to its online volunteer pledge forms and to the subscription page of its statewide volunteer lawyers support website.
- Recognize volunteers and highlight success stories, as Pro Bono Net does via Twitter.
- Include members of the pro bono community in local, regional, or national pro bono events by broadcasting event highlights, news, and resource links.
- Mobilize lawyers and the community. For example, the State Bar of Georgia Pro Bono Project uses Twitter to send updates about how lawyers may assist following a disaster.
- Provide practice support to pro bono lawyers in remote clinics or other service settings.
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|In 2011, Legal Aid of Nebraska attorney Pat ford suffered a debilitating stroke. Pat’s entire caseload involved legal services for homeless and near-homeless Nebraskans. The day after Pat’s stroke, the president of the Nebraska State bar Association sent an email to over 1,000 lawyers throughout the state requesting volunteers to help take on Pat’s caseload. by the end of the week, all of Pat’s remaining cases were placed with private attorneys working for free.|
be used to remind clients of court dates. These reminders can even be integrated into a CMS and sent automatically.
- Collaborative Pro Bono Platforms: Keeping up with cutting-edge technology requires time and resources, and thus presents a perfect opportunity for collaboration. Although there are some promising partnerships out there, too often organizations are working independently to create the same systems within a given city, state, or region, and are not sharing information with each other as they do so. LSC and its grantees should consider where they can partner with other legal aid organizations and with the private bar to create systems that operate across users. Examples of where this is being done can be found here. This is one area in which LSC can and should be a leader, ultimately encouraging the development of a portal to which all parties in the community could connect. For example, LSC might consider spearheading the development of a single CMS for all of its grantees, so that everyone would be under a single system.
Finally, LSC should consider either using challenge grants to spur innovations in technology or seeking pro bono assistance from technology companies to further legal pro bono. Under the America Competes Reauthorization Act of 2010, Congress made $45 billion in funding available for challenge grants to foster innovations in science, technology, and education. Since 2010, agencies across the federal government have issued more than 150 challenges, with many of them seeking the development of mobile applications and other broadband technology to solve vexing problems.46 In the first year alone, thirty-six agencies were awarded prizes of over $38 million.47 LSC should explore the feasibility of conducting and funding its own such challenge to build an integrated platform for its grantees. Once again, any resources for such a grant should not come at the expense of existing funding.
h. Using Pro Bono to Decrease Demand for Legal Services
Pro bono lawyers are a great potential resource for reducing demand for legal services. Pro bono lawyers can be well-positioned to take on larger projects or litigation that LSC grantees themselves may not be able to handle, conduct background research, or add a powerful voice in support of reform. LSC grantees therefore should consider potential opportunities to engage volunteers at the systemic level.
The Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, for example, created an Appellate Advocacy Project to address issues that contributed to ongoing concentrated poverty in the District. Through the project, lawyers collaborate with other members of the civil legal services community to identify emerging or unresolved issues, to develop cases that can present those issues, and to monitor the docket of the D.C. Court of Appeals for amicus opportunities. The project has won important decisions concerning the rights of tenants, persons with disabilities, and victims of domestic violence. Such appellate work can be a fruitful area for pro bono partnerships between legal services providers and private firms. Examples of other organizations that have successfully used private lawyers to reduce demand for legal services can be seen here.
i. Creating a Pro Bono Culture
A successful pro bono program requires support from the top. Good pro bono programs cannot exist without legal aid lawyers, and the leadership of legal aid organizations must commit to pro bono in order for it permeate an organization’s culture. There are several steps leaders can take to show that support.48 First, leaders themselves should actively participate in pro bono programs. They should encourage and celebrate it, while being honest (in a positive way) about some of the challenges of working with pro bono lawyers. They should ensure that well-respected staff members view private involvement as an important part of their jobs, and hold up examples of those lawyers’ successful support of pro bono efforts. They should encourage staff to be creative in recruiting and managing pro bono volunteers, assign a capable and well-respected lawyer to manage the organization’s pro bono program, and make themselves available to that manager. LSC can play a role in supporting these efforts by directing some of the information and resources contemplated in the toolkit recommendation above to sharing successful efforts among grantee leadership to shape and create pro bono cultures. Grantees looking to strengthen their pro bono cultures also can take advantage of the ABA Center for Pro Bono’s Peer Consulting Project, which enlists volunteers to conduct a two-day, onsite evaluation and then reports on potential improvements to the organization’s pro bono program.
Organizations also should consider, if appropriate, establishing a special advisory committee, composed of key organization staff and private lawyers, corporate counsel, bar leaders, and law school representatives, to help manage their pro bono programs. This group could help set policy or guidelines, develop program goals and priorities, champion legal services in the community, create new connections to increase the pool of available volunteers, help fundraise for the organization’s pro bono program, and ensure adequate attention to systems and issues. Finally, as noted above, LSC itself can support pro bono managers at its grantee organizations by providing them with a professional organization through which they can connect, find support, and highlight their successes.
|An elderly Shenandoah County, Virginia, widow needed money to repair her car. In desperation, she took out a payday loan at an interest rate of over 200%. After making monthly payments of between $200-$500 out of her Social Security check of $624 for nearly three years, she still owed more than she had borrowed. finally, she sought help from blue Ridge Legal Services. Pro bono attorney Grant Penrod challenged the legality of the loans under Virginia’s usury laws, and ultimately won before the Virginia Supreme Court, which unanimously outlawed the payday industry practice of “flipping” loans each month to evade interest ceilings, a practice that created what the court called “a vicious cycle of debt.”|
j. Adequately Resourcing Pro Bono Programs
Creating a quality pro bono program requires a commitment of time and money. Many of the recommendations in this report would be costly – much beyond the 12.5% of their grant money that LSC requires its grantees to spend on Private Attorney Involvement (PAI) – and thus especially challenging to implement in light of the current economic environment. There are several steps that LSC and its grantees can take, however, to adequately resource their programs:
- To the extent they are not already doing so, LSC and its grantees should participate in groups, such as state AJCs, that are studying and recommending ways to create new funding sources, including new fees, such as pro hac vice fees, or voluntary contribution check-offs on dues forms; and
- LSC should provide guidance and training to development professionals and executive directors in fundraising. LSC also can advocate with potential funders, including foundations and the legal community, about the importance of supporting pro bono programs.49
Recommendation 2: LSC Should Revise Its Private Attorney Involvement (PAI) Regulation to Encourage Pro Bono.
LSC’s Private Attorney Involvement (PAI) regulation, promulgated in its current form in 1985, directs grantees to expend 12.5% of their basic field grants to encouraging “the involvement of private attorneys in the delivery of legal assistance to eligible clients.”x Specifically, it provides that private attorney involvement “shall be an integral part of a total local program undertaken” to further the “statutory requirement of high quality economical and effective client-centered legal assistance to eligible clients.”51 Decisions about how to implement the “substantial involvement” requirement rest with the local LSC grantees and their boards, but those decisions are subject to “review and evaluation” by LSC.52
The PAI regulation has resulted in increased collaboration between LSC grantees and private attorneys; however, because of changing realities in the legal market, there are certain areas where the regulation might productively be revised to ensure that LSC grantees can use their grants to foster pro bono participation. Section 1614.3 of the regulation describes the range of activities that may be counted toward the PAI requirement and the ways costs related to the PAI effort are identified and accounted for. In practice, the regulation poses complications in certain areas for LSC grantees. LSC therefore should reexamine the regulation in the following areas:
(a) Resources spent supervising and training law students, law graduates, deferred associates, and others should be counted toward grantees’ PAI obligations, especially in “incubator” initiatives. Because they are not considered “private attorneys,” contributions of law students or graduates not yet admitted to the bar do not count toward grantees’ PAI requirements.53 Contributions from law school clinics can be counted only if a private attorney supervises the students (including a professor because the professor is considered a “private attorney”).54 Engaging students and instilling a lasting commitment to pro bono work is wholly consistent with the aims of the PAI regulation. The LSC Board therefore should consider amending the regulation to allow grantee organizations to count as PAI expenses the funds they expend on training and supervising law students.
Similarly, in recent years there has been a large increase in the number of private attorneys and law graduates who are not employed, and many of them have sought to gain experience while giving back to their communities through pro bono work. Although these lawyers are a great potential resource, engaging them requires time and resources on the part of LSC grantees. For example, one LSC grantee wanted to create an “incubator” program under which it would train attorneys and recent graduates and then pay them to take cases after they left the program (and in the case of the recent graduates, after they passed the bar). The program was designed to benefit the attorneys by giving them a start in practice, to benefit the grantee by providing trained attorneys to handle cases for a modest payment, and to benefit low-income clients by increasing the supply of available lawyers. In Advisory Opinion 2009-1007, LSC held that payments to the lawyers after they left the “incubator” could count toward the grantee’s PAI obligation only if the payments were not more than 50% of the lawyers’ total compensation. Whether the funds were counted therefore depended on whether the lawyer was able to find another job. As a practical matter, this makes the use of PAI funds for these programs very difficult since attorneys who are not otherwise employed are unlikely to know how much of their income will come from the grantee and how much from other sources until the end of the year. This leaves the grantee uncertain about whether its payments count as PAI until the end of the year as well.
(b) Grantees should be allowed to spend PAI resources to enhance their screening, advice, and referral programs that often attract pro bono volunteers while serving the needs of low-income clients. Currently, LSC grantees cannot count money spent to support centralized screening and referral services as PAI, even where those referral services are needed to support pro bono programs. In Advisory Opinion 2009 1004, for example, one LSC grantee used non-LSC funds to pay for a statewide hotline that provided advice and referrals. After being screened through the hotline, LSC-eligible clients were referred back to one of the four LSC-funded organizations in the state. LSC concluded that the organization that funded the hotline could not count the expense toward its PAI obligation because the legal aid lawyers who staffed it received more than 50% of their compensation from the LSC-funded agency that housed the hotline, and none of the organizations that accepted referrals from the hotline could count them as PAI cases either.
The same issue arose again in Advisory Opinion 2011-001, where an LSC grantee was not permitted to count the staff salaries it paid a centralized screening and referral unit as PAI expenditures. This unit screened cases before referring them to a network of volunteer attorneys in the grantee’s service area. The clients served met LSC’s eligibility guidelines, but they were not counted as part of the grantee’s caseload and the grantee did not take responsibility for determining the outcome of the referrals.
The Task Force has reported on how efficient it is to have integrated intake and referral systems and how difficult it is to find outside funding for them. The LSC Board of Directors thus should consider amending the regulation to allow such models.
|When Mrs. P., a Spanish-speaking, 74 year-old victim of domestic violence, sought assistance with a divorce, bay Area Legal Services referred her to a bilingual pro bono attorney in the area. mrs. P. had been married in 1953. her husband had a gambling problem and, one day when mrs. P. went to the local casino to find him, he grabbed her by her blouse, lifted her and pushed her against the wall. he was arrested after the police saw the attack on the the casino’s videos. mrs. P. later found out that her husband had been taking all of her Social Security checks. The volunteer attorney who took mrs. P.’s case succeeded in obtaining a divorce for her and obtained a court order that she was to receive half of the monthly benefit from Mr. P.’s florida Retirement System Pension and half of mr. P.’s military retirement benefits via Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROS). The pro bono attorney secured the services of another volunteer experienced with QDROS to help with that process. The pro bono lawyer was so inspired by her experience that she shared them with the Tampa bay hispanic bar Association, and encouraged others to take on cases of their own.|
(c) LSC should reexamine the rule that mandates adherence to LSC grantee case handling requirements, including that matters be accepted as grantee cases in order for programs to count toward PAI requirements. LSC grantees are under strict guidelines about what cases they can and cannot handle. Furthermore, resource constraints often force grantees to make tough decisions about what types of cases that meet the guidelines they can take. Yet, under the PAI regulations, grantees cannot count placement of any cases that they are not themselves able to accept. The regulation poses challenges to effective pro bono collaborations, as illustrated by Advisory Opinion 2008-1001. There, an LSC-funded organization serving a large rural area in the Midwest provided organizational assistance and technical support to a number of walk-in clinics (sponsored by churches, local bar associations, and government social welfare agencies). These clinics did not screen clients for LSC eligibility and, at the insistence of the organizations that supported the clinics, the LSC-funded organization did not treat the people who came to the clinics as its own clients. The program, which is located in an area with few private attorneys and where it has been very difficult to establish successful PAI programs in the past, sought to count the cost of the organizational assistance and technical support against its PAI requirement. LSC found that the people served by the clinics had to be screened for LSC eligibility, determined to be eligible, and accepted as clients of the LSC-funded organization before the costs of the program could count for PAI purposes.
As noted elsewhere in this report, such collaborative efforts are only possible with the support and substantive expertise of legal aid lawyers. Thus, a degree of flexibility is required in the rule.
In summary, the PAI regulation poses challenges as local organizations attempt to develop innovative programs to promote efficiency and effectiveness in their partnerships with others. The Task Force therefore recommends a thoughtful effort to reexamine the regulation to ensure that it effectively encourages pro bono participation.
Recommendation 3: LSC Should Launch a Public Relations Campaign on the Importance of Pro Bono.
Members of the private bar can help alleviate the justice gap, but many either do not know about the justice gap or do not know how they can help. Lawyers may not know about the extraordinary need for their pro bono contributions. Policymakers often are not aware of the importance of legal aid. Leaders in the legal community therefore should work together to increase public awareness of these issues.
As a starting point, LSC should convene a small group to explore launching a national public relations campaign to: (1) raise awareness, both within and outside of the legal profession, about the continuing crisis in legal aid for the poor; (2) encourage members of the bar to help solve that crisis by taking on pro bono matters and donating to legal aid organizations; and (3) generally promote and celebrate the accomplishments of legal aid lawyers across the country.55
|Alaska’s Early Resolution Program schedules a number of divorce cases in a single court on one afternoon and then brings in pro bono lawyers to represent both sides. In its first year, 80% of cases resulted in settlements.|
The idea of educating the public about the importance of legal aid is not new. Over the past ten years, several organizations – most notably NLADA, the Center for Law and Social Policy, and statewide AJCs – have done important work in this area. A number of states also have launched statewide campaigns aimed at increasing pro bono work among private attorneys. This includes the One Campaign,56 a statewide campaign in Florida with the message that every lawyer in the state should take on one pro bono case; Maryland’s Access to Justice Commission media kit entitled, My Laws, My Courts, My Maryland57; and similar programs
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supervision of more senior firm and LSC grantee lawyers, devote their first year to handling cases from and building relationships with host LSC grantees. This fellowship proposal is unique in that its focus would be on building lifelong commitments to civil legal services and long-lasting connections between LSC grantees and law firm pro bono lawyers.
In 2009, the Indiana Supreme Court announced a campaign to train more than 700 Indiana judges, mediators, and lawyers on handling foreclosure cases. The Court offered scholarships to private attorneys for the training if they agreed to handle one mortgage foreclosure case on a pro bono basis.
We envision that interested law students would apply and be selected for the fellowships by both the firm and the host LSC grantee shortly after their second year summer programs with participating firms. Fellows would select a legal focus area for their fellowship, such as domestic violence or housing, which would allow them to develop subject matter expertise within their firms. Incoming fellows would prepare during their final year of law school by taking part in relevant clinics, externships, or coursework so that they could begin the fellowship with some level of familiarity with their chosen subject area. We hope that law schools, in turn, would make relevant education, such as providing clinical and experiential learning programs, a priority. After graduation, fellows would join their law firms at the same time as the other incoming associates; however, they would not go into practice groups or do billable work. Rather, they would devote their first year to pro bono work under the supervision of firm lawyers and lawyers at the local LSC grantee, gaining valuable practice skills and building subject matter expertise within their firms, referring cases to their colleagues, coordinating training, and offering continued support as others take on cases. Although they would be considered firm employees, eligible for firm benefits, their salaries would be commensurate with the salaries of Equal Justice Works fellows or employees of LSC grantees. They would participate in regular firm training and, as firm employees, the firms could count the fellows’ pro bono hours when reporting to outside sources. At the end of the year, fellows would join their firms as second-year associates, but remain a point of connection between the firm and the grantee throughout their careers.
Of course, there are a number of open questions to be considered before such a proposal becomes a reality, including: who will administer the program and recruit firms to participate;60 where will the fellows be housed; who will supervise the fellows’ work; and how can the program be used to benefit grantees in rural areas. Other possibilities are to create similar fellowship programs to engage emeritus/senior lawyers, law student summer interns, or recent college graduates to work at LSC grantees. We recommend that LSC convene an exploratory working group to address these open questions, examine existing fellowship programs, and make these proposals a reality.
14 Existing resources for building an effective pro bono program include:
- LSC’s own Performance Criteria, http://www.lsc.gov/sites/default/files/LSC/pdfs/LSCPerformanceCriteriaReferencingABAStandards.pdf.
- The ABA Center for Pro Bono’s, “Standards for Programs Providing Civil Pro Bono Legal Services to Persons of Limited Means,” http://apps.americanbar.org/legalservices/probono/standards.html.
- LSC Program Letter 07-2: Guidance to LSC Programs for the Development of Enhanced Private Attorney Involvement, http://www.lsc.gov/sites/default/files/LSC/pdfs/ProgramLetter07-2.pdf.
- The Michigan Nonprofit Association’s “Basic Infrastructure Checklist,” http://mnaonline.org/CMDocs/MNA/Principles&Practices/checklist.pdf.
PILnet’s “Pro Bono Clearinghouse Manual: Resources for Developing Pro Bono Legal Services,”
- Emerging from the California Pro Bono Summit, the development of a 7 chapter best practices guide reflecting basic how to concepts for legal services and private law firms on the development and administration of pro bono best practices.
- Training related to infrastructure sometimes is offered in national conferences. For example, a nuts and bolts preconference for new pro bono managers is offered annually at the Equal Justice Conference, in addition to “Beyond the Basics,” coordinated by the National Association of Pro Bono Professionals (or NAPBPro) for more experienced pro bono coordinators and directors.
15 Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service and the Center for Pro Bono, ABA, http://www.americanbar.org/groups/probono_public_service.html
16 ABA Standing Comm. on Pro Bono & Public Serv., Center for Pro Bono Clearinghouse Library, http://18.104.22.168/dbtw-wpd/searchcpb.htm
17 LSC’s own website contains some resources, but they are limited and reportedly not well-trafficked.
18 The ABA Standards for Pro Bono Programs, which is in the process of being revised, also is a terrific resource for those working to build effective pro bono programs, see ABA Standing Comm. on Pro Bono & Public Serv., Standards, Division for Legal Services, https://www.americanbar.org/groups/probono_public_service/policy/standards.html
19 The availability of malpractice insurance is often cited as a concern of would-be pro bono volunteers. Grantees should advertise that professional liability insurance is available at affordable rates to the sponsoring entity that reflects the exposure and risk involved in the types of cases undertaken and, except for solo practitioners, often at no cost to pro bono volunteers. NLADA offers professional liability insurance to PAI volunteers, bar association sponsored pro bono programs, private firms offering pro bono services, other nonprofit projects, and solo practitioners. The coverage extends to any volunteer performing pro bono services on behalf of the policyholder. For information on the NLADA insurance program, see NLADA Insurance Program, http://www.nlada.org/Insurance/Insurance_Home.
20 Marc Galanter, “Old and in the Way:” The Coming Demographic Transformation of the Legal Profession and Its Implications for the Provision of Legal Services, 1999 Wisc. L. Rev. 1081, 1085 (1999).
21 hese obstacles include limitations on the ability to practice after formal retirement, age, licensure, bar dues, CLE requirements, filing fees, and malpractice insurance requirements.
22 See Fedscope, http://www.fedscope.opm.gov/. “Legal positions” includes attorneys as well as administrative law judges, various administrative and managerial positions, and paralegals.
23 Presidential Executive Order 12988, issued in 1996, directs federal agencies to develop appropriate programs to encourage and facilitate pro bono legal service by federal government employees. The order designated the Department of Justice to lead the effort and to convene the Interagency Pro Bono Working Group comprised of representatives from each federal agency that adopts a pro bono policy and establishes a pro bono program. The American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service has an excellent web page devoted to the issue of government attorneys and pro bono, available at http://apps.americanbar.org/legalservices/probono/government_attorneys.html.
24 See Rule 49: Unauthorized Practice of Law, D.C. Courts, available at http://www.dccourts.gov/internet/documents/rule49.pdf. Thirty-seven federal agencies in D.C. have established pro bono programs. Fifteen of those agencies recently have adopted policies that grant administrative leave to lawyers performing pro bono legal work. Pro Bono Net has a useful website that includes a compilation of existing pro bono policies from various federal agencies, information on malpractice insurance, links to information on practices in other states and jurisdictions, and other useful information for federal attorneys seeking pro bono opportunities in Washington, D.C., see Government Volunteers, Probono.net/dc, http://www.probono.net/dc/about/#Policies.
25 See, e.g., Hawaii Supreme Court Rule 17; State Bar of California Rule 2.54(b).
26 See, e.g., Best Practice Profiles, Corp. Pro Bono, http://www.cpbo.org/resources/best-practice-profiles/. and David P. Hackett, Ed., Pro Bono Service by In-House Counsel, Practicing L. Inst. (2010), for examples of robust in-house corporate pro bono programs.
27 For a discussion of recommended changes to the PAI rules affecting LSC grantees’ use of law students, see Recommendation 2.
28 The ABA Center on Pro Bono has a content-rich website for and about law school pro bono programs, including guidance and resources for creating or enhancing a program, information about the various models in use, and contact information for the relevant personnel at each school. See ABA Standing Comm. on Pro Bono & Public Serv Law School Public Interest and Pro Bono Programs, http://apps.americanbar.org/legalservices/probono/lawschools/home.html.
29 IIT Chicago-Kent to Develop eBook for National Cyber Clinic Pilot Program, May 11, 2012,
30 Whether faculty members do pro bono work typically is a matter of individual choice, but the additional capacity faculty can add (whether as inspirational leaders, advocates, or supervisors) suggests that this is an area that might be encouraged. Faculty members are typically expected to perform (and are evaluated on) service activities, which could include pro bono activities, including support for law student and legal services work. For a discussion of current law school efforts, see Law School Public Interest and Pro Bono Programs, supra note 28.
31 See Connecticut Network for Legal Aid, http://ctlawhelp.org/.
32 U.S. Census Bureau, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2011, at 18 (Sept. 2012). http://www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p60-243.pdf
33 Technologies That Should Be in Place in a Legal Aid Office Today, LSC, Nov. 2008, http://grants.lsc.gov/sites/default/files/Grants/Grants_Reference_Materials/technologybaselinereport.pdf
34 LSC recently convened its 2012 Technology Summit on the Use of Technology to Expand Access to Justice, which looked at many ways in which new technologies can be used to promote legal services. White Papers from the Summit will be published by the Harvard Journal of Law and Technology.
35 For examples of other pro bono websites, see the online version of this report at http://www.lsc.gov.
36 RSS (originally RDF Site Summary, often dubbed Really Simple Syndication) is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works – such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video – in a standardized format. An RSS document (which is called a “feed,” “web feed,” or “channel”) includes full or summarized text, plus metadata such as publishing dates and authorship.
37 SIP phones connect to the Internet to place and receive calls. Each device has a unique IP address so calls can be routed to it.
38 There has been much written about the use of social media by lawyers, including by legal aid lawyers. A 2010 report, Using Social Media to Engage Your Supporters, highlights the social media efforts of several legal aid and pro bono entities. Kate Bladow & Joyce Raby, available at http://lsntap.org/training_social_media_support_2010. Finally, the Legal Services National Technology Assistance Project (LSNTAP) provides an online listing of legal aid programs that have self-reported their social media presences at http://lsntap.org/Legal_Aid_Social_Media_List. Katherine Bladow & Joyce Raby, Using Social Media to Support Self-Represented Litigants and Increase Access to Justice, Future Trends in State Courts, at 35 (2011), available at http://ncsc.contentdm.oclc.org/cgi-bin/showfile.exe?CISOROOT=/ctmedia&CISOPTR=29.
39 Lisa W. Borden, Social Media and Pro Bono (June 8, 2011), http://thepbeye.probonoinst.org/2011/06/08/guest-blog-socialmedia-and-pro-bono.
40 In 2010, Technola, a technology blog for legal aid and public interest advocates, published a blogroll listing legal aid and pro bono programs and staff who maintained public interest blogs, http://www.techno.la/promo/blogroll/. It also published a 2009 “Twitter List of Legal Aid & Pro Bono Organizations,” http://www.techno.la/2009/11/articles/technologies/social-networks/twitter-listof-legal-aid-pro-bono-organizations/. Back to Table of Contents
41 ABA Center for Pro Bono Exchange (Blog), http://centerforprobono.wordpress.com/
42 Social Media and Pro Bono: An Essential for Program Success, ABA Dialogue (Fall 2011) http://www.americanbar.org/content/newsletter/publications/dialogue_home/dialogue_archive/ls_dial_fa11_probono1.html.
43 For example, pro bono programs should consider encouraging volunteers to complete the section on LinkedIn that asks users to include “Volunteer Experience & Causes” in their profile. A pro bono program’s loyal volunteers could use that tool to send a message to their LinkedIn colleagues about how they value pro bono in their legal careers. More information about the “Volunteer Experience & Causes” field in LinkedIn can be found at: http://press.linkedin.com/node/870.
44 Aaron Smith, Nearly Half of American Adults are Smartphone Owners, Pew Internet (Mar. 1, 2012), http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/Smartphone-Update-2012/Findings.aspx.
46 The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act also provided funds to expand broadband access in the United States through the Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program (BTOP). See Broadband USA: Connecting America’s Communities, NTIA, http://www2.ntia.doc.gov/about. Some of these resources already have been spent on legal services. In 2010, BTOP provided $1.9 million to North Carolina Central University School of Law to “upgrade broadband services and deploy videoconferencing in five legal assistance facilities,” and $4.1 million to the EdLab Group Foundation to “expand the capacity of local public computing centers,” including “five rural courts . . . where residents can apply for public assistance, access online legal resources, . . . and seek the help of legal volunteers.” See http://www2.ntia.doc.gov/grantee/north-carolina-central-university; http://www2.ntia.doc.gov/grantee/edlab-group-foundation-formerly-known-as-the-pugetsound-center-foundation-for-teaching-lear.
47 These crowd-sourcing contests are detailed more fully in www.Challenge.gov.
48 One excellent resource for leaders looking to build a good pro bono culture is Betty B. Stallings, 12 Key Actions of Volunteer Program Champions: CEO’s Who Lead the Way (2005), which identifies the importance of leadership support in creating a pro-volunteer culture in an organization, http://www.bettystallings.com/newbook/pdf/5-219-12KeyActions.pdf
49 The Management Information Exchange annual fundraising conference is one such source of training. The ABA Resource Center on Access to Justice Initiatives is another valuable source of technical support. See Legal Aid Funding: Resources and Technical Assistance, ABA Standing Comm. on Legal Aid & Indigent Rights, http://www.americanbar.org/groups/legal_aid_indigent_defendants/initiatives/resource_center_for_access_to_justice/funding_civil_legal_services.html.
50 45 C.F.R. § 1614.2(a).
51 45 C.F.R. § 1614.2(c).
53 External Opinion 2005-1001.
55 LSC already has retained a media consultant to produce a public service announcement (PSA) for LSC-grantees, which 20 LSC programs have signed on to use thus far.
58 ABA Standing Comm. on Legal Aid to Indigent Defendants, Resource Center for Access to Justice Initiatives, http://www.americanbar.org/groups/legal_aid_indigent_defendants/initiatives/resource_center_for_access_to_justice/communications_resources.html
59 Resources, Celebrate Pro Bono: Nat’l Pro Bono Celebration, http://www.probono.net/celebrateprobono/resources/folder.323461-Civic_Speeches
60 One possibility is that firms would pay a per fellow fee to some centralizing body, possibly LSC, to underwrite the cost of administering the program.
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