Meet the Florida Bar’s Pro Bono Challenge
Imagine the impact we could make if every attorney in the state of Florida helped one pro bono client. That single contribution could drastically reduce the enormous backlog of cases and significantly improve access to justice for all Florida residents.
Upon taking the oath at the beginning of a career in law each attorney makes a promise to “never reject the cause of the defenseless or oppressed or delay anyone’s cause for lucre or malice.” In October 2009 the Supreme Court’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono, led by Judge William Van Nortwick, launched the One Campaign which is committed to giving attorneys the opportunity to renew that promise.
The focus of the One Campaign is to engage more attorneys in providing pro bono legal services through their local legal aid programs by taking on ONE case. Put simply, the One Campaign speaks directly to the number one issue that many attorneys cite as an obstacle to providing pro bono legal services: time. Through the One Campaign attorneys are encouraged to take One case where they can utilize their unique skills to help regular citizens navigate the law. The One Campaign will also highlight both state and local opportunities that attorneys can take advantage of to provide these pro bono services.
The Volunteer Lawyers Project, a program of Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida, Inc. (CLSMF), matches volunteer private attorneys with low-income individuals in need of civil legal assistance. Central Florida lawyers have a tradition of helping their low-income neighbors through pro bono work. The Volunteer Lawyers Project, administered by CLSMF, works in conjunction with local bar associations to provide pro bono legal assistance to the disadvantaged in Central Florida. We attribute our success to many attorneys who have donated their time to this project. However, due to the growing class of people unable to afford legal representation, the need of volunteer lawyers is great. What is asked of you is not a lot. What you will get in return is great experience, exposure, fulfillment of your professional obligation to help the less fortunate, and the satisfaction of knowing that you have made a difference in your community.
To see a list of available volunteer opportunities for attorneys, click here http://www.clsmf.org/index.php/about_us/calendar
- Family Law
- Estate & Probate
- Consumer Law
- Tort Defense
- Real Property
- Pro Se Divorce Clinics
- Legal Clinics
- Courthouse Assistance Projects
- Community Education Presentations
- Social Security
- Personal Injury
- Family/Civil Mediation
Frequently Asked Questions
How much am I expected to provide?
The Supreme Court of Florida suggests that a member of the Florida Bar donate 20 hours of pro bono service or $350 each year to your pro bono program.
How is a case referred?
We refer cases on a rotating basis. Thus, the more volunteers we have, the less often we will call on each volunteer. We match available attorneys with cases in their areas of expertise.
Once I have agreed to meet with the client, do I have to accept the case?
No. There may be various reasons you would not accept the case, including a case falling outside your area of expertise or requiring too much of your time, or lack of merit.
Why should I volunteer for the Volunteer Lawyers Project of CLSMF rather than do Pro Bono work on my own?
By handling your work through this program, your efforts can be directed to the areas most needed. We will keep a record of the hours you report and we will pay for reasonable and necessary litigation costs.
Just like every attorney, I have the occasional client who can’t afford to pay for my services. What can I do?
Call our office and we will send you an application for that client to complete and return to us. If the client falls within our income guidelines, and has the type of case usually handled by the Volunteer Lawyers Program, the case will be processed as a pro bono case.
I am not a litigator. Can I still participate?
Absolutely! Many of our cases are resolved without litigation. In addition, we need attorneys to volunteer for other types of projects. We have something for everyone.
Can I ask for attorneys fees?
We encourage you to ask for attorney fees. If fees are awarded, you may keep the fees. We also offer participation in the Reduced Fee Panel for clients who do not qualify for free help thru CLSMF but cannot afford full fees at a private attorney.
PRO BONO HELP IS ALWAYS NEEDED!
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