How it Works
The VLP is primarily a panel-model program, which means that volunteer attorneys designate the area(s) of referred cases. Because we want the referral process to be beneficial and easy for both you and the client, referrals are made by matching the volunteer attorney’s indicated interest with a client whose problem falls within that area of law. Our procedures are tailored to suit the needs of the individual attorney. Every effort is made to make referrals in a manner which avoids undue disruption of your schedule.
All potential VLP clients are first screened and interviewed for income eligibility by intake professionals, thus assuring that they are indeed eligible for free legal assistance.
All referrals to volunteer attorneys are made by the VLP based upon the area of law involved in the client’s problem. The volunteer attorney is contacted by email, fax or letter. Following a conflicts check and assuming the case is accepted by the volunteer, copies of intake information are forwarded to the attorney. The client is advised of the referral by letter from the program and is instructed to call the volunteer attorney immediately to schedule an appointment at a mutually convenient time. If the client fails to contact the attorney within 30 days, the case is closed.
All cases are accepted on a pro bono basis and the volunteer attorney is expected to handle only the one specific legal problem of the client which was referred by the VLP. Cases should be filed in forma pauperis and volunteer attorneys are encouraged to use an affidavit of substantial hardship wherever possible. Otherwise, clients are to assume responsibility for court costs and incidental fees, whenever they are financially able to do so.
The VLP reporting requirements are simple. You are expected to complete cases referred to you. Three months after referral, the VLP will send you a form to advise the program of the status of the case. You will also be asked to return a case-closing memo at completion advising the VLP of the final disposition of the case and the number of hours of services provided.
Malpractice insurance coverage can be made available by the program at no cost to volunteer attorneys for pro bono cases handled through the VLP. Contact the VLP at (334) 269-1515 or 1-800-354-6154 for more information or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The VLP offers you a simple, well-organized mechanism for fulfilling your professional responsibility to make legal counsel available to indigents consistent with a true sense of professionalism and Rule 6.1 of the Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct. Equally important, our volunteer attorneys gain excellent client and courtroom experience since they are fully in charge of their pro bono cases. For more seasoned attorneys, program participation provides an avenue for sharing expertise with newer members of the profession by serving as mentors or co-counsel to VLP attorneys. Most important of all, VLP volunteer attorneys gain great personal satisfaction from helping the less fortunate among us and from making a positive, visible difference in their communities.
Although helping others in trouble is often its own reward, VLP volunteer attorneys also receive recognition for their service through annual awards and certificates of appreciation given by the Alabama State Bar, special events spotlighting community pro bono activities, articles in Alabama State Bar publications and free training seminars for CLE credit.