Pro Bono Opportunities

Want to help? There are a number of programs and events that can use your skills and experience to improve the lives of the people of Utah!

This guide lists information regarding specific pro bono projects within Utah. The guides intent is to inform attorneys about the work and support involved in each project so that they can make an informed decision about volunteering their legal services.

Each description includes information on: 1- the type of case and what work is involved, 2- the estimated amount of time it will take to complete a case or project, and 3- the support offered from the related agency, such as materials, pleadings, instruction, training and a resource contact person.

Attorney support of these pro bono projects is greatly appreciated. If you have comments, suggestions or questions about any of the projects or the information contained in this guide, please contact the Bar’s Access To Justice team at: (801) 297-7027 or e-mail probono@utahbar.org.


Take a full representation or limited scope case for an indigent client through the Pro Bono Commission. The cases are referred by Utah Legal Services and the Judiciary because the individuals are indigent; pro bono attorneys are their last hope for representation. Mentors are available if you are interested in taking a case but would like assistance with forms, questions over the phone, etc.

-Contact probono@utahbar.org

 

The Legal Aid Society of Salt Lake provides legal counsel on domestic relations issues to indigent citizens in Salt Lake County. The agency’s primary goal in these cases is family stabilization, with particular concern for children that may be involved.

Volunteer lawyers are assigned the simpler divorce and paternity cases. An attempt is made to match the level of case complexity with the volunteers experience. All cases are screened for merit and client financial eligibility. Volunteer attorneys are provided with: domestic relations forms and pleadings (on disk), training (as necessary), malpractice insurance coverage, and a staff attorney to serve as a mentor (as needed). The time commitment varies with each individual case.

The clinic in SL County is co-sponsored by the Legal Aid Society, the Delivery of Legal Services Committee of the Utah State Bar, Utah Legal Services, and the Third District Court. In Davis County the clinic is part of the Victims of Crime Assistance Program. Both programs offer representation to pro se plaintiffs at protective order hearings. Clients are people seeking protection from an abusive domestic situation.

Volunteer attorneys enter an appearance on behalf of the pro se litigant for the hearing only. The time commitment is up to the individual volunteer: the training session runs two hours; each hearing requires approximately three hours. Some attorneys volunteer on a regular monthly basis; others less frequently. Volunteers may receive training, information manuals and assistance from staff attorneys at the Legal Aid Society and Utah Legal Services. Volunteers also receive professional liability insurance coverage.

This project is an estate planning, pro bono legal services program for low-income Utah residents. To date, the project has utilized retired or semi-retired volunteer attorneys to provide wills, advanced medical directives, and simple estate planning services. Project clients are primarily the elderly, however, they also include persons with disabilities and persons with terminal illnesses.

The project is housed in the Salt Lake City office of Utah Legal Services. Volunteer attorneys choose their level of participation. Some volunteers come in weekly, while others accept individual cases, as they are able. Mentors, experienced in estate planning, are also welcome and can provide assistance to other volunteers. The project is run by a Utah Legal Services staff attorney who screens all clients, tracks the cases, and provides assistance when needed. Training, materials and professional liability insurance are also provided.

LawHelp sponsors several pro bono projects, including some where volunteers serve as supervising attorneys for law students.

1. Elder Law Project (LIFE) – Pro bono attorneys supervise students representing senior citizen clients. The students obtain these clients through meetings at Senior Citizen Centers in Utah Valley. Most of these cases are handled without the need for litigation. The attorney and student assist clients in a broad range of legal matters including drafting of simple wills, living wills, health care programs, consumer complaints, etc. Utah Legal Services provides will-drafting software and information pamphlets for these cases. The time commitment for each case varies.

2. Domestic Violence Intervention – Pro bono attorneys supervise students assisting victims of spouse abuse.

3. Street Law Project – Pro bono attorneys supervise students assisting low income clients. Most of these cases are handled without the need for litigation. The attorney and student assist clients in a broad range of legal matters. The time commitment for each case varies.

Tuesday/Thursday Night Bar is a long-standing program of the Bar. Programs in Provo and Ogden are coordinated by local bar associations and other groups. Participation in this project is quite simple. Attorneys are scheduled for a particular evening and show up that evening. Each client is allowed 20 minutes to ask the volunteer attorney questions about their particular legal problem. The volunteer attorney does not enter into an attorney/client relationship at that meeting. Primarily the volunteer acts as a referral source, letting clients know of their legal rights and referring them to private attorneys or legal service agencies.

The time commitment for volunteer attorneys on this projects varies according to how many evenings they fit into their schedule for the year. An evening stint usually lasts 2.5 to 3 hours. Volunteers are given a handout which outlines their duties for the evening and gives a list a referral sources.

The Committee on Law & Aging of the Utah State Bar runs this program. Volunteer attorneys meet with senior citizens at senior citizen centers within Salt Lake County. Volunteers meet one-on-one with six clients for 20 minute consultations, over a two hour period. The goal is not to provide in-depth legal advice, but to determine whether the individual has a legal problem and then to identify potential legal services to address the problem. The volunteers do not need to have specialized knowledge of the legal issues affecting elderly persons.

Volunteers receive a manual containing information on free legal services and community resources for the elderly. They also receive handouts on various legal issues (e.g. powers of attorney, living wills) prepared by Utah legal Services. Malpractice insurance is also provided. Time commitment is controlled by the volunteer, which is based on the number of clinics they attend.

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) provides active duty service members with protections in civil cases on a limited representation basis. In cases when service members are facing default judgment, the court must appoint an attorney to locate and contact them to determine how they’d like to proceed with their case. Initiated by the Utah State Courts and implemented by the Utah State Bar, Service Member Attorney Volunteer (SMAV) program seeks volunteer attorneys to provide limited representation to service members in this situation. While Legal Assistance for Military program (LAMP) assumes full representation of a service member, a Service Member Attorney Volunteer (SMAV) project provides limited representation and includes:

  1. Trying to find and contact the service member.
  2. Notifying the service member of the case.
  3. Communicating to the court whether you have been able to locate and contact the service member.
  4. Advising the service member of their rights and options.
  5. Communicating to the court whether the service member wants to consent to the relief requested in the complaint/petition or to contest the matter.
    If the service member wants to request a stay, preparing, filing and serving the documents to request the stay.
    If the service member wants to consent to the judgment, preparing, filing and serving the documents to waive rights under the SCRA and consent to judgment.
    If the service member wants to contest the case and move forward immediately, preparing, filing and serving the documents to waive rights under the SCRA. Filing an answer (or other responsive pleading) is beyond the scope your limited legal help.
  6. Appearing at hearings as needed to decide whether to stay this case.
  7. Notifying the court and parties if the service member hires you for representation beyond the scope of your agreement.
  8. Filing and serving a Notice of Withdrawal upon termination of your representation.

The Service Member Attorney Volunteers webpage describes your responsibilities and provides forms to support your volunteer work.

The Utah Veterans’ Legal Clinic is an opportunity for a lawyer to provide answers to legal questions that veterans may have.  The Salt Lake City clinic is held the Second Thursday of each month except December.  It is held from 5:30 to 7:00 in the Multi-Purpose Room in Building 8 at the VA Hospital which is located at 500 Foothill Dr, Salt Lake City, UT 84108.

-Contact pstrand@representveterans.com

This project is a collaboration between Holy Cross Ministries and the Pro Bono Commission.  Holy Cross Ministries performs the intake and screening on potential applicants for asylum to the U.S., and pro bono attorneys take on these cases.

-Contact probono@utahbar.org

Utah.FreeLegalAnswers.org is a website where financially qualifying Utahns can post questions about their civil legal issue. Volunteer attorneys can log in whenever/wherever, choose which question they’ll answer, receive a weekly reminder about posted questions, covered by the program’s Malpractice Insurance, training and resource materials built into the site for quick reference.

-Contact Probono@utahbar.org

The Utah State Bar Young Lawyers Division in partnership with the Wills for Heroes Foundation unveils Wills for Heroes, a new statewide program to help police officers, firefighters, and other first responders. Through the program, volunteer attorneys provide wills and other estate planning documents for emergency first responders and their spouses or partners.

America’s quickly-growing senior population faces numerous challenges. Senior citizens are one of our most vulnerable and underrepresented populations, with many seniors living near or below the poverty line. Many seniors face critical economic and healthcare decisions without the ability to hire legal counsel. Serving Our Seniors helps fulfill this need by educating seniors about their estate planning options and providing legal assistance through volunteer actions by Utah attorneys.

-jsbaih@egclegal.com

The Pro Se Calendar is an innovative and integrated clinical model. It is a hands-on, in-the-courtroom, immediate resolution and results clinic. It covers a judge’s designated pro se calendar, where volunteer attorneys provide on-the-spot legal advice, limited representation, and procedural information to pro se litigants.  The calendar lasts approximately two hours.  This is a great way to do pro bono in a limited scope setting, get client and courtroom experience, and do substantial pro bono service. Domestic, housing, and collection defense are all covered.

-Contact probono@utahbar.org

Utah Legal Services (ULS) is a nonprofit law office that provides free legal assistance in civil cases to low income people. ULS serves the entire state with offices in Salt Lake City, Tooele, Ogden, Provo, Price, and Cedar City, as well as Monticello. Identifiable client groups include: migrant workers, Native Americans, senior citizens, and the homeless. ULS’s service priorities focus on client survival needs, namely food, shelter, income maintenance and health care. Outside of Salt Lake County ULS serves domestic relations needs as well.

Volunteer attorneys may accept many different types of cases. ULS attempts to match the volunteer attorneys requests with client needs. ULS screens all cases for merit and client financial eligibility. Malpractice coverage, materials, forms; pleadings and training (as needed) are provided to volunteers. Time commitments vary according to each case. Volunteer attorneys may also participate in statewide community education programs and telephone intake/advice only projects. Time commitment for these projects varies as well.

The primary need of this project is for assistance representing proposed wards in guardianship proceedings. Most guardianship cases for disabled individuals are simple. They typically involve either a stipulation to guardianship or a simple modification. This usually comprises one or two visits with the client and an appearance at the probate law and motion calendar.

The Law Center provides training to all participating attorneys on: applicable law, court procedures, and dealing with the client. Additionally they provide support for any questions you might have and will take back any cases that become complex.

This project involves representing children in custody cases. These cases do not involve abuse allegations, however, a judge has requested representation for the child. This program is administered by the Office of Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) in the Administrative Office of the Courts. Time commitments for cases vary, depending on the specific circumstances of each case.

The Office of GAL offers approximately 12 hours of training and the materials needed to handle a case. Volunteers must be willing to take one case and can take additional cases as they desire.

This project, administered primarily by the AOC, provides judges with a roster of attorneys, which the judge may appoint to represent adult respondents in guardianship and conservatorship proceedings.  These attorneys must have malpractice insurance and have completed training.

-Contact probono@utahbar.org

The Pro Bono Initiative, or PBI, is a one-of-a-kind noncredit volunteer program that allows students to build real world problem-solving skills to serve their community.  Clinics operate year-round and are staffed by our volunteer students and volunteer lawyer supervisors. PBI also pairs students with practitioners in various placements including law firms, where students assist on pro bono matters, as well as nonprofit organizations and legal-related agencies.  Clinics include: American Indian Law, Debtors Counseling, Expungement, Family Law, Medical-Legal, Rainbow Law, Street Law, and Community Legal Clinics.

-Contact JoLynn.Spruance@law.utah.edu

This clinic is held at the Horizonte School (Cafeteria) on 1234 S. Main Street in Salt Lake City on the third Tuesday of each month from 5 to 7 p.m.  You are welcome to walk in to discuss bankruptcy, collection defense, and credit issues.

Army One Source Military Legal Assistance Courses is available to assist you in working with members of the Military.  AOS provides free CLE.  More information can be found HERE

The Utah State Courts occasionally request the Bar’s assistance in finding pro bono representation for habeas corpus cases. The Bar has a limited number of attorneys that are willing to undertake these cases pro bono. If willing counsel is found to represent the petitioner, the Courts are sent a letter stating the attorney’s contact information and a copy of the habeas file is sent to the volunteer attorney. The Utah State Bar provides trainings on how to handle habeas corpus cases.

Help people from the comfort of your office at a time convenient to YOUR schedule!

The Lawyer of the Day program is seeking volunteer attorneys to give brief legal advice over the phone to individuals pre-screened by the Utah Courts’ Self-Help Center.  No responsibility of being attorney-of-record, no document preparation, no court appearances, etc.  Free CLE web modules in family law are available to participating attorneys.   Sign up for a time that works for you to be “on call.”  Be the Lawyer of the Day for a person in need.

-Contact tchristensen@utahlegalservices.org

Volunteer attorneys and law students assist clients online with domestic document preparation.

-Contact babatasonnenberg@gmail.com

The Street Youth Legal Clinic’s mission is to remove legal barriers for homeless youth. Volunteer attorneys advocate for the youth and guide them through the court system until the resolution of the legal matter whenever possible.

-Contact Nicole.sylc@gmail.com

Pro Bono Patent Program seeks to connect low income inventors with patent attorneys for patent application preparation and prosecution legal services on a pro bono basis. With a current wait list of 20 inventors and a wait time of at least four to six months to be matched with an attorney, ProBoPat is actively recruiting attorneys and patent agents to be paired with inventors.

-Contact Jennifer Rothschild at probopat@micasaresourcecenter.org