1. How do I get a case?
You can call the individual pro bono programs:
Washoe Legal Services: David Spitzer at 775.329.2727 or click here: washoelegalservices.org.
VARN: Julie Mogensen at 775.883.8278 or click here: varn.org.
2. Can I just give money?
Yes! The legal aid providers can use the money to provide services themselves. You can give through by visiting our Donate page, or donating directly to the providers:
Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada: Email Barbara Buckley or call 702.386.1406
Nevada Legal Services: Email Anna Johnson or call 702.386.0404
Southern Nevada Senior Law Program: Email Sheri Vogel or call 702.229.6596
Volunteer Attorneys for Rural Nevada (VARN): Email Valerie Cooney or call 775.883.8278
Washoe Legal Services: Email Paul Elcano or call 775.329.2727
Access to Justice Director, State Bar of Nevada: Email Angela Washington or call 702.382.2200, ext. 409
3. What constitutes pro bono work?
Rule 6.1 of the Nevada Rules of Professional Conduct is an ethical rule that encourages lawyers to provide twenty hours of pro bono service annually. The substantial majority of the services must be on behalf of low-income individuals or organizations serving low-income individuals. In addition, the service must be performed without a fee or expectation of a fee.
The Rule also permits lawyers to perform additional services on behalf of charitable, governmental, education and related organizations where the cost of retaining counsel would significantly deplete the organization’s resources; activities for improving the law and the legal profession; and teaching law-related education.
Examples of Pro Bono Work
· Providing brief counsel and advice to a low-income tenant in a landlord-tenant dispute
· Counseling a not-for-profit organization on tax matters, articles of incorporation, by-laws, or not for profit status
· Developing and presenting a training seminar on a substantive law topic for pro bono attorneys
Activities That Do Not Qualify As Pro Bono Work
· Serving on the board of a non-profit where the lawyer does not act as pro bono legal counsel
· Coaching a high school debate team
· Handling a legal matter for a family member
4. Does community service qualify?
No. Pro Bono work must be law-related or involve the use of legal skills. For example, assisting in the provision of legal services to a homeless shelter would qualify, but assisting at a fund-raising event, serving food or doing repairs at the shelter would not qualify. As a further illustration, if you helped Habitat for Humanity build a home that would not qualify. But, if you assisted in preparing the documents necessary to obtain a building permit for construction of the home, that would count.
5. I am a government attorney and already dedicate my career to public service. Why should I also volunteer for the One Campaign?
As a lawyer, you are already contributing to the public good and should be commended for this. What the One Campaign provides is an institutional way to mobilize the legal community to help a segment of the population that cannot help itself. Clients are thoroughly screened, so by taking cases through an organized legal aid program, you are sure to be helping clients in need who have meritorious cases. Additionally, you are eligible for support and assistance through the One Campaign, as well as awards and recognition.
6. What if I’ve never done any pro bono work and don’t have any training or experience in the areas in which legal aid clients need assistance?
It is never too late to start doing pro bono work! There are several resources and supports available to help you. First, you can start by going to a free CLE training. There are several trainings available to you throughout the year in a range of subject areas, including family law, landlord-tenant law, and representing children in foster care. These seminars are designed specifically for new volunteers lacking experience.
You may also be assigned an experienced attorney mentor, receive a comprehensive nuts and bolts manual and have access to sample forms and pleadings.
7. What about malpractice coverage?
Most organized pro bono programs provide free attorney malpractice coverage. The coverage is primary and extends both to representation and all counsel and advice (Ask-A-Lawyer) programs. In addition, by having access to a mentor, or a staff contact in an Ask-A-Lawyer program, you can be sure that you will know how to handle every aspect of your case or respond to any question that comes your way.
8. What if I am not a member of the Nevada State Bar?
Attorneys who are not members of the Nevada State Bar but who are admitted and in good standing in another state may request certification through the Nevada Supreme Court’s Emeritus Attorney Pro Bono (EAPB) Program. Through this program attorneys can assist low-income individuals through an approved legal services provider either by providing direct legal representation or by participating in an Ask-A-Lawyer program. The certification is also available to government attorneys who have been admitted in Nevada or another state but have an inactive license. See Supreme Court Rule 49.2 or the Nevada State Bar website for further information or to apply.
9. How are clients selected by the Providers?
Pro bono clients must meet financial income guidelines to be eligible for consideration. Once all necessary intake information has been provided, case acceptance will be considered by their staff based on a variety of factors, including, but not limited to, merits of the case, reasonableness of the client and availability of volunteers.
10. What about court costs?
In each of our pro bono cases involving state court actions, clients are eligible for waivers of filing fees. By filing a Statement of Legal Aid Representation, which will be provided to you, you will be able to have court fees waived.
11. What about litigation support services?
If your pro bono case requires court reporters, court interpreters, private investigators, assessors, etc., the legal aid provider will work with you to attempt to secure the necessary services for free or at a discounted price.
12. What kinds of cases are available?
• Child Abuse/Neglect (Representing Children)
• Civil/Consumer Fraud
• Domestic Violence
• Guardianship (Uncontested)
• Nonprofit Organizations
• Predatory Lending
• Real Estate Fraud
• Record Sealing
• Social Security
Pro bono representation is usually not provided in criminal, employment, personal injury or traffic matters.
13. Can I refer a potential client for pro bono service?
Yes. If financially eligible, most legal aid organizations will screen clients for eligibility.
14. I already do pro bono work in my practice, so why should I volunteer with the One Campaign?
If you’re doing pro bono work in your practice, you are to be commended. Volunteering with the One Campaign means you are joining the Nevada Supreme Court, your judiciary, your state bar, and your legal aid providers, to help community members who are not fortunate enough to be able to locate a lawyer themselves. Additionally, you are eligible for support and assistance through the One Campaign, as well as awards and recognition.
15. Am I expected to finish the case I’m given? What if it takes a long time?
While we do not expect volunteers to necessarily take a case up on appeal or handle every subsequent legal problem that a pro bono client brings to them, we do expect volunteers to complete the specific matter for which the client was referred for assistance. If you would like to help the client again with future matters that arise, we can arrange that and would be incredibly grateful. However, it is not necessarily expected.
16. Am I expected to give pro bono clients the same level of service I give to my paying clients?
Yes, yes and yes! Pursuant to the Rules of Professional Conduct, a client is a client, whether she or he is a paying client or a pro bono client. Additionally, the way you treat all of your clients reflects on your reputation in the community.
17. What’s in it for me?
Besides having something to report on your annual mandatory reporting form, making yourself eligible for awards and recognition, and generally doing good and giving back to the community in which you live and work, you will feel what it is like to have a profound impact on the life of a person in need.
18. How do I/we get involved again?
To volunteer or get your firm involved downloand the The ONE Pledge Form and send it back to us. We’ll help you get started.