VLP offers a variety of volunteer opportunities, from case handling to short-term projects. There are opportunities for attorneys with all levels and types of experience, for law students, paralegals, undergraduate students, and some non-law professionals. We provide the training and support attorneys need to make pro bono work. Find out more about the resources and benefits available to VLP pro bono attorneys.
The Volunteer Lawyers Project handles cases in the following areas:
- Landlord-Tenant, representing tenants and low-income landlords
- Homeownership, including cases for first-time home buyers
- Foreclosure Prevention
- Family Law, with a focus on cases helping custodial parents achieve economic independence
- Guardianship of Minors
- Guardianship of Incapacitated Adults
- Bankruptcy, primarily Chapter 7
- Wills, Advance Directives, and Basic Probate matters
- Unemployment Insurance denials and terminations
- Fair Debt Collection
- Tax assistance, not including filing income taxes
- Appellate cases, particularly in fair debt collection cases, in coordination with VLP's Appeals Clinic.
VLP staff attorneys and paralegals carefully screen cases prior to referral to pro bono panel members. With each case referred, panel attorneys receive a detailed memo summarizing the case and identifying the presenting issues. VLP also assesses the complexity of cases of case so that simpler cases are referred to less experienced attorneys and more challenging cases go to more seasoned practitioners.
If you are not yet a VLP panel member, browse our sample cases to see common types of cases we handle. For more information about available cases, please contact Adrian Coss at email@example.com or 617-423-0648 x6446.
Ready to take a case? Click here to see how our case referral process works.
Finding the Right Cases for You
Once you join VLP's pro bono panel, you will be able to view summaries of all the cases available for referral on this website. VLP also maintains e-mail lists for the different types of cases we handle. If you are interested in a particular area, you can join that e-mail list to receive periodic updates with descriptions of available cases. If you are interested in taking a case in an area of law that is new to you, you can sign up to attend a free training at VLP and we can give you a mentor for your case. For information about available pro bono cases, please contact Referral Coordinator Adrian Coss at firstname.lastname@example.org or 857-320-6446.
Getting the File and Referral Memo
For all of the cases that we refer, a VLP staff attorney or paralegal has met with the client for an intake and prepared a file and a detailed memo about the case. Once you agree to take a case, we will send you the memo and the documents in the file. We will also confirm the referral in writing with the client, who will then call to schedule an appointment with you..
Meeting the Client
You may meet with clients at your own office or at VLP. We have conference space available at VLP if you would prefer to meet with your client here. To reserve a room, call VLP reception at 857-320-6487. Please provide the receptionist with your name, the client's name the room size needed, the date and time of the appointment, the approximate length of time required, and a number at which you can be reached should a problem arise..
For clients with limited English proficiency, VLP retains interpreters to assist you outside of Court, including attorney-client meetings and telephone calls. We assign interpreters to cases before they are referred. Both the client and the attorney are given the name and contact information for the interpreter at the time the case is referred. That interpreter will be available to the client and attorney for the duration of the case to relay information, set up meetings, provide interpreting services for phone calls and meetings between the client and attorney, and to accompany you to a hearing for pre- and post-hearing client discussions. Interpreters bill VLP directly. The panel attorney simply needs to sign the interpreter's time sheet to verify the interpreter's time spent on that case.
Courts and administrative agencies are obligated to provide interpreters without cost for legal proceedings. Please arrange for an interpreter with the specific Court or agency.
Ongoing Support and Mentoring
Mentors. VLP staff attorneys are available to consult with you on referred cases. We can also pair you with an experienced panel attorney for mentoring. To request a mentor or if you are interested in serving as a mentor, please contact Senior Partners for Justice Manager Barbara Siegel at email@example.com or 857-320-6447.
Email Groups: We have email discussion groups or listservs available in many subject areas. They are a good way to get advice and sample practice materials about your pro bono cases from other attorneys. Click here to sign up for one of our listservs. You must be registered and logged in to this website to join a listserv.
Monthly Mentoring Roundtables:A roundtable is a peer-to-peer mentoring forum. It’s an opportunity for volunteer attorneys of all levels of experience to meet together over lunch once a month and talk about cases, dealing with clients, ethical issues, and the practice of law generally. Experienced attorneys, including mentors from Senior Partners for Justice, serve as facilitators, but there is no set agenda or formal training component. You will learn from each other as you discuss issues that come up in your pro bono cases or practices. We currently host the following monthly roundtables:
- Family Law/Guardianship - First Wednesday of the month at the Court Service Center at the Brooke Courthouse, 1 to 2 p.m., right after the Family Law Clinic. Click to sign up.
- Consumer/Bankruptcy – Second Tuesday of the month at VLP, 12 to 1 p.m. Click to sign up.
The Roundtables are BYOL (bring your own lunch). We ask that you sign up online using the links above.
Fees and Costs
Whenever possible, attorneys should file an Affidavit of Indigency for the client to get filing fees and court costs waived or paid for by the Commonwealth. Click here for forms and more information about the Affidavit of Indigency. VLP has limited funds to assist with litigation costs that are not otherwise covered. Please contact Program Administrator Martha Williams to discuss your particular situation or needs.
Some routine costs are inherent in legal representation, e.g. copying, stationery, postage, etc. that may be burdensome for solo or small office practitioners. Panel attorneys may use the copier and postage meter in VLP's office. VLP is unable to reimburse attorneys for mileage or parking.
VLP will check in with both you and the client periodically during the course of the case to ensure that you made contact, that the matter is progressing satisfactorily, and that you are getting any support you might need. At case closure VLP will send a form to you requesting basic information about the case disposition.