FAQ

1. I want to volunteer. How do I get a case?
2. Do I have to have experience to volunteer in a particular area of law? 
3. Where can I meet with my client and receive mail or phone calls? 
4. Does VLN provide malpractice insurance for volunteer attorneys?
5. I am renewing my state attorney license. I only represent private clients through VLN. How do I record this on my license?
6. I don’t want to go to court, may I still volunteer?
7. What kind of resources does VLN offer volunteers?
8. I don’t have time to take a full representation case, are there other opportunities?
9. I am not an attorney, how can I help?
10. Pro Bono Credit for Volunteering
11. Is there anything I should know about working with people in poverty?
12. What difference will my work make?

1.     I want to volunteer. How do I get a case?

To get started, complete the online volunteer application form. We screen all new volunteers with the Board of Professional Responsibility prior to their taking a case with us. We will let you know when your application has been approved.

To sign up for specific opportunities, please come to one of our new volunteer orientations, held once every six weeks or so. Check our Events Calendar for the next volunteer orientation. You may come to the orientation before your application has been approved.

2.     Do I have to have experience to volunteer in a particular area of law?

Prior experience is not needed to volunteer in many areas of law. VLN provides training materials, sample pleadings and mentors. Volunteers have the responsibility to utilize resources and training materials to ensure they competently represent their client.

3.     Where can I meet with my client and receive mail or phone calls?

You can meet with clients, receive mail and phone calls at VLN. Volunteers with their own office space are welcome to meet with clients and communicate directly with their client.

4.     Does VLN provide malpractice insurance for volunteer attorneys?

Yes, VLN offers malpractice coverage to volunteer attorneys providing services to VLN clients. This includes full representation, clinic and phone advice cases.

5.     I am renewing my state attorney license. I only represent private clients through VLN. How do I record this on my license?

If you do not represent private clients apart from your work with VLN, indicate that you do not represent private clients in the appropriate section. Add a hand written note saying the attorney does not have private malpractice coverage, they should indicate “no” and add a handwritten note stating: “Malpractice insurance for pro bono cases only is provided by VLN carrier AIX Specialty Insurance Company administered by NLADA.”

6.     I don’t want to go to court, may I still volunteer?

Yes. VLN has many opportunities for attorneys not interested in appearing in court. If you have relevant experience, you may mentor new volunteers, provide phone advice or volunteer at an in person walk in clinic. We also need attorneys to write various letters for clients, such as letters to their creditors, letters to landlords asking for a return of a security deposit, and letters to employers asking for earned wages to be paid.

7.     What kind of resources does VLN offer volunteers?

VLN has a vast library of resources available to volunteers.

8.     I don’t have time to take a full representation case, are there other opportunities?

Yes, VLN has a need for experienced attorneys to serve as mentors, screen potential cases for merits and advise clients at walk-in legal advice clinics.

9.     I am not an attorney, how can I help?

You don’t have to be an attorney to support our mission. We are in need of law and paralegal students, paralegals, and interpreters. We also need help for general office work and data entry. Go to Volunteer Match to complete an application.

10.     Pro Bono Credit for Volunteering

You may receive one pro bono credit for every six hours of pro bono work with an approved pro bono agency (including VLN). You may received up to a maximum of 6 credits for pro bono per 3 year reporting cycle. For more information please see VLN’s June 2013 Tip of the Month.

11.     Is there anything I should know about working with people in poverty?

People can be in poverty for many reasons, including disabilities, illiteracy, lack of education and lack of opportunities.  Our clients include those in generational poverty (those whose family has been in poverty for two or more generations) and situational poverty (those temporarily in poverty due to an event such as a divorce or job termination).

When representing a person from generational poverty, please remember that the conditions of their life are very different than most lawyers’. As a result, your client may have completely different life experiences, skills, communication styles and assumptions.  We encourage you to spend some time to learn and avoid potential roadblocks to a successful relationship; many of the principles will help you with your paying clients too. Our Working with Pro Bono Clients resources include: a wiki, various materials posted on the Learn More section of the wiki, and a CLE provided six or more time a year (check our calendar).

12.     What difference will my work make?

You will be bringing the rule of law to a community that is profoundly under-served and often goes without. You will be ensuring safe housing, paid wages, protected relationships and at least the minimum amount to meet their daily basic needs, and more.

You will be serving not only your clients but our entire community, which can truly thrive only when there is equal justice under law. You will also be helping the courts administer justice efficiently. And you will be participating in our profession’s long and honorable tradition of giving back to the community.