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.
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.