“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.
Frequently Asked Questions and Concerns
Why should I volunteer to do pro bono work?
- Pro bono work is personally and professionally satisfying.
- You will improve the bar’s public image.
- Rule 6.1 of the Pa. Rules of Professional Conduct states that lawyers should perform public interest legal service.
- As a pro bono attorney, you will represent people who have no other way to obtain the services of an attorney.
- Your peers are doing it. During the time that we have been operating, more than 370 attorneys have placed their names on our pro bono list and handled pro bono cases for us. During 2013, approximately 130 Lackawanna County attorneys each accepted at least one pro bono cases from us. (Over the past five years, we referred close to 850 cases to pro bono attorneys.)
- Although we have a large number of pro bono volunteers, more are needed in order to adequately serve those people who need these services and also in order to distribute the pro bono work fairly among members of the bar.
But I’m too busy for pro bono work!
- As a pro bono volunteer, YOU will decide which cases you accept, how many you accept, and when you accept them. Typically, each of our volunteers handles one or two pro bono cases each year. However, you can choose to accept a greater or smaller number.
- Before referring a case to you, we will screen it to make sure that the client meets our financial eligibility guidelines and that the case is appropriate for referral, then we will provide you with a brief description of the case and ask you whether you are interested in accepting it. We will try to match you with the particular types of cases you have requested.
If I don’t have my own malpractice insurance, can I still do pro bono work?
We carry malpractice insurance that covers attorneys in the pro bono cases we refer to them.
What kinds of cases are pro bono volunteers needed for?
- Family law (protection from abuse, custody, support, divorce)
- Mortgage foreclosure
- Unemployment compensation
- Termination of social security or SSI benefits
- Uninsured tort defense
- Education law
- Miscellaneous (See the Pro Bono Attorney Volunteer Form)
We need and appreciate volunteers for all kinds of civil cases. However, since 60% of our cases are family law matters, we strongly encourage those of you who are comfortable doing family law to volunteer to accept those cases. After family law, the next greatest areas of need are landlord-tenant and debtor creditor matters.
If I agree to represent a pro bono client in a family law case, for how long will I be obligated to continue to represent that client?
To make it easier for attorneys to represent pro bono clients in family law cases, Judge Harhut instituted a procedure under which pro bono attorneys can enter limited appearances in family law matters. Using this procedure, a pro bono attorney can terminate his or her appearance after each hearing or other court proceeding.