The Legal Services Corporation just released a full report from its Pro Bono Task Force. The report, produced pro bono by DLA Piper, summarizes findings and recommendations of the PBTF.
One of those recommendations is to develop a “Pro Bono Toolkit” that local programs can use to help expand the ways lawyers volunteer to help those unable to afford legal assistance. A noteworthy example of what that toolkit could include is found on page 12 of the report:
“Mechanisms for involving pro bono volunteers in providing limited assistance to pro se litigants, and otherwise empowering pro se parties.”
In other words, teach lawyers how to apply limited scope representation concepts on a volunteer basis. This makes perfect sense. Legal aid attorneys have been delivering LSR for decades out of economic necessity. With inadequate funding for the staff needed to fully represent the millions of low-income applicants for free legal aid, these innovative lawyers found ways to help some of those applicants handle their own legal matters.
If you have read my book, you know that I devote some ink to how to benefit from the extensive expertise that probably exists in your community legal aid office. I won’t give it all away here, but you can quickly learn from the pros how to deliver limited scope representationand pay for it by volunteering at the same time. Even better, when you handle pro bono cases through most legal aid organizations, they provide malpractice coverage for those cases at no charge to you in addition to the forms and mentoring to get you off and running. That’s more than “win-win,” it is “win-win-win” because an eligible client gets legal assistance, the program gets a new volunteer and you get support as you learn a new way of delivering your valuable legal skills to people who cannot afford full-scope representation.