DISCLAIMER: This website has been prepared for general informational purposes only. The information you see on this website, or by linking to other websites, is not legal advice and cannot replace the advice of an attorney. Viewing this website, completing an online application, or transmitting any e-mail message to SVLAS does not create an attorney-client relationship. In fact, unless you are already a client of SVLAS, your online application or e-mail may NOT be protected by attorney-client privilege. Also please remember that unencrypted e-mail may be intercepted by persons other than the intended recipient. Legal advice is dependent upon the specific circumstances of each situation. If you have a legal problem and want to receive legal advice or representation, you should contact an attorney in your area. If you live in southwestern Virginia, have a low household income, and your problem is one that Legal Aid may be able to assist with, please consider applying for legal assistance from SVLAS.

VOLUNTEER ATTORNEYS

Rule 6.1 of the Rules of Professional Responsibility says that every lawyer, regardless of professional prominence or workload, should provide pro bono legal assistance. Despite this aspirational goal, studies consistently show that 80% of the legal needs of the poor, both nationally and in Virginia, are not being met.

 

Members of the private bar, working alone or in collaboration with legal aid programs, can help fill this justice gap. Our Private Attorney Involvement (PAI) Program provides four opportunities for service.

 
Distance Lawyering via our PAI Portal
Our PAI Portal allows private attorneys to use the internet to select cases for pro bono service. The attorney can register online, receive a login by e-mail, and then log in to the portal to review the available cases. Cases can be selected, hours entered, case notes entered and final documents uploaded for closure – all online.
 
If you wish to participate in the PAI Portal, you can register online at: svlas.kempscaseworks.com/pbi. Click here for more information on the PAI Portal.
 
Traditional Pro Bono
Opportunities for more traditional pro bono service are also available. Attorneys who prefer NOT to use the portal may continue to accept pro bono cases referred to them. Attorneys will be referred only the specific types of cases that they have agreed to handle on a pro bono basis. After the case is complete, we ask that you tell us how many hours you spent on the case and send a copy of any final order entered. Please know that SVLAS does not pay the court costs for any case; if those costs cannot be waived, they must be paid by the client before work on the case can begin.
 
Judicare
Reduced-fee service is also an option. Attorneys who choose to provide legal services in exchange for a nominal fee will be referred only the specific case types that they have agreed to handle on a Judicare basis. After the Judicare case is complete, we ask that you submit an itemized timesheet showing the hours spent on the case (click here to see an example) along with any final order entered. (Note: the itemized time can be reported in the easiest possible way. You can use your own time reporting system; just be sure we have itemized time and any final order entered.) If you incur any actual costs while handling the case, we can consider paying those if you ask us to approve payment of those costs in advance. SVLAS does not pay the court costs for any case; if those costs cannot be waived, they must be paid by the client before work on the case can begin.
 
Regardless of the casework program or fee structure selected, if you choose to participate, it will be your responsibility to:
  • determine you have no conflict of interest before accepting a case;
  • provide the best possible representation to our clients in a timely manner;
  • "close" the case so that we have documentation of the outcome. This includes providing the outcome of the case, a final case note, and the amount of time you spent on the case.
 
PAI cases have been pre-screened by Legal Aid staff to determine that the client is eligible for service and the staff will also have done much of the basic fact gathering. Most of the cases currently available are simple no-fault divorces where custody/support/visitation have already been adjudicated.
 
The client and adverse names and a note summarizing the basic facts of the case will be available for conflict checking prior to the case being accepted by the attorney. The portal also includes resources such as sample pleadings, links to courts,and detailed instructions.
Outreach
A fourth option for service is legal education and outreach. Would you be willing to speak at a public event organized by us? (Topics might include landlord/tenant rights, debt collection, employment law in Virginia, etc.) Or perhaps handle preparation of simple documents for pre-screened clients at a legal clinic in your area (such as a Will Day Clinic at a local senior center)?
If so, please let us know your interests in this area.
 
 
Special thanks to the Virginia attorneys currently included on the SVLAS PAI Panel.
How to Join the PAI Panel
 If you wish to join any of our programs, simply complete and return the enrollment form (remember you can register online if you wish to participate in the online PAI Portal.)  
 
When you enroll, please indicate which program you would like to participate in and check which types of cases you are willing to accept under the program. If you wish to participate in both Pro Bono and Judicare, simply complete a separate enrollment form for each program so that you can indicate which types of cases you are willing to accept under each program. SVLAS will only refer the type of cases you wish to handle.
 
How Much Paperwork Is Involved?
When using the PAI Portal – none! With the other programs, we will mail you a package containing a Case Facts Memo, Intake Sheet w/client information, and letter setting out the estimated attorney fee for the case (if Judicare). For both Pro Bono and Judicare you will need to complete and submit the enrollment form as well as any final order (online for those using the Portal), and Judicare participants will also have to submit an itemized invoice for payment.
 
 As a volunteer with SVLAS, you are entitled to use the free resources available on Legal Aid's statewide website, www.valegalaid.org. Click here to view a video about the resources available to you – and to join the statewide site. http://www.probono.net/va/civillaw/webcastarchive/webcast.180870-Video_Introduction
Pro bono attorneys are an important partner in the effort to provide equal access to justice for ALL Virginians, not just those with the ability to pay.
 
Attorneys who participate give back to their neighbors, their profession, and the communities in which they live.
 
In exchange for their service, participating attorneys are eligible for continuing legal education events offered at no cost by SVLAS or through the Virginia State Bar. Legal Aid also recognizes their contributions each year
in an annual Pro Bono Reception.