About volunteering your time
Quick Q & A about the how the program works
DOES IT MAKE A DIFFERENCE IF I SIGN UP?
Pro Bono attorneys closed more than 200 cases last year. See how your colleagues have made a difference.
HOW DO I SIGN UP?
Complete and return the attached CASE FORM if you are willing to accept cases.
This form can be completed online and submitted by email. Or you can print it and fax/mail it. We have over 25 categories of cases in which you can volunteer your services.
WHO DECIDES WHICH CASES ARE SENT TO ME?
You are the final decision maker. Our attorneys interview the client and determine eliigibity; they also decide which cases are better handled by staff and which ones may be better handled by a volunteer. These are generally non-emergency cases or cases where a private attorney may have expertise that Legal Aid does not.
- You will be contacted prior to any referral being made.
- You can accept or reject that
particular case for whatever reason you wish (conflict of interest,
schedule is too busy right now to take on an extra case, et al.
- You will only be called on to accept referrals in the categories which you have selected on your enrollment form.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I SAY "YES" TO A CASE?
Once you do accept a case, you will be provided with a file containing information about the client and the facts of the case as well as any documents supplied and/or questionnaires completed by the client.
HOW DOES THE CLIENT KNOW TO CONTACT ME?
We will then notify the client of his/her case being referred to you and have them call your office directly to arrange for an initial appointment.
I CAN DONATE MY TIME BUT WHAT ABOUT FEES & COSTS
We will reimburse you for any out-of-pocket expenses you incur in connection with any case we refer to you. The case file we send to you includes a form you can use to request reimbursement of costs.
- Since our funds are limited, however, we ask that you use fee waiver forms (also included with the initial case file) whenever possible.
- We also ask that you call the Program staff prior to incurring any extraordinary expenses (depositions, real estate appraisals, title searches).
- Clients who are able to do so, will be required to pay some of the their own costs as well (such as their own bankruptcy filing fees). Both you and the client will be notified of any such requirement in advance.
IS THERE OTHER PAPERWORK INVOLVED?
We will attempt to keep the amount of paperwork, a necessary evil, to an absolute minimum.
- While the case is pending, you may be asked to provide us with updates as to the status of the case.
- At the conclusion of the case, you will be asked to provide us with information as to the outcome of the case and the approximate amount of time you spent on the file. This information is required by several of our funding sources.
- A Case Closure Form is included with the initial file for use in providing us with this information.
WHAT ABOUT INSURANCE?
For cases handled through the Pro Bono Program, professional liability insurance is provided under a master policy of Legal Aid of Western Michigan at no cost to the participating attorney.