Guardianship Clinics in Suffolk, Middlesex, and Norfolk Counties
Senior Partners for Justice/VLP offers two important types of guardianship assistance in court-based clinics. Our volunteer attorneys and law students:
- help low-income petitioners for guardianship complete and file the guardianship petitions, AND
- help low-income guardians complete their care plans and annual reports.
Volunteers do not file an appearance on behalf of the petitioners or guardians; our services are limited to advice and assistance with the forms. In some case, petitioners may be referred to the Volunteer Lawyers Project for further assistance after the petitions are filed.
This is a great, time-limited project for attorneys of all levels of experience and for law students. If you don't have experience in guardianship cases, we strongly suggest that you take VLP's free Introduction to Guardianship of Minors and Introduction to Guardianship of Adults classes before volunteering. Please check www.vlpnet.org for upcoming training dates..
Because this project is a Limited Assistance Representation (LAR) project, the attorney should have completed a do-it-yourself LAR training consisting of written materials and a video or live training. Video trainings are are available online here. Live LAR certification trainings are also available periodically through the Boston Bar Association. See http://www.bostonbar.org/edu/cle for more information.
The Volunteer Lawyers Project provides primary malpractice insurance for all pro bono work done under this project.
CLINIC LOCATIONS AND TIMES:
Suffolk County Probate & Family Court (Directions)
Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Court Service Center on the 2rd Floor of the Brooke Courthouse.
Middlesex County Probate & Family Court (Directions)
Norfolk County Probate & Family Court (Directions)
Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Register's office of the courthouse in Canton.
Volunteers for this project and other guardianship cases are welcome to join our guardianship listserv. Sign up at www.vlpnet.org and click on listservs on the left side of the page. You will need to register for the VLP website if you have not already done so.
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 and online, 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.