How VLP Assigns Pro Bono Cases & Supports Volunteers
Finding the Right Cases for You
Attorneys on VLP's pro bono panel can join an e-mail list and receive periodic updates with descriptions of available cases. Interested in taking a case outside of your normal area of practice? You can sign up to attend a free training at VLP, and we can give you a mentor for your case.
For information, contact Pro Bono Manager Miranda Black at email@example.com or 857-320-6446.
VLP provides primary malpractice insurance coverage for all VLP pro bono cases.
Getting the File and Referral Memo
VLP staff meet with clients for an intake before a case is referred. During this meeting, we gather documents and assess the case for referral. Cases that are appropriate for a volunteer attorney to take are sent out by email to the panel. Once you decide to take a case, you will receive a detailed memo and the documents in the file. We will also confirm the referral in writing with the client, who will call you to schedule an appointment.
Meeting the Client
You may meet with clients at your own office or at VLP.
To reserve a room at VLP, email Lais Teixeira at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 617-423-0648. 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.
VLP retains interpreters to assist in your communication with clients of limited English proficiency. We assign interpreters to cases before they are referred. The interpreter will be available to relay information throughout the duration of the case. The interpreter can also set up and attend meetings, provide interpreting services for phone calls, and accompany you to a hearing for pre- and post-hearing client discussions. Both the client and the attorney are given the name and contact information for the interpreter at the time the case is referred. Interpreters bill VLP directly. The panel attorney only needs to sign the interpreter's time sheet to verify the interpreter's time spent on the 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 Roundtable: A roundtable is a peer-to-peer mentoring forum. It is an opportunity for volunteer attorneys to meet over lunch to talk about cases, dealing with clients, ethical issues, and the practice of law generally. 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 roundtable:
- 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.
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 VLP to discuss your particular situation or needs.
Some routine costs are inherent in legal representation, e.g. copying, stationery, postage, etc. 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 case to ensure that you are getting any support you need and that the matter is progressing satisfactorily. At the time of case closure, VLP will send a form to you requesting basic information about the case disposition.