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 Michelle Harvey at: (801) 297-7027 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Summary of Programs
- Legal Aid Society
- Utah Legal Services
- Domestic Violence Clinic SL County, Davis County
- Senior Lawyer Volunteer Project Statewide
- LawHelp UT County
- Tuesday/Thursday Night Bar Salt Lake, Park City & Ogden
- Senior Legal Clinic Program SL County
- Legal Assistance for Military program (LAMP)
- Army One Source Military Legal Assistance Courses
- Service Member Attorney Volunteer (SMAV)
- Habeas Corpus
- Debtors Counseling Clinic
- Other Programs
Debtor’s Counseling Clinic is held at the Horizonte School (Cafeteria) on 1234 S. Main Street in Salt Lake City on the Second Tuesday of each month from 5 to 7 p.m. You are welcome to walk in to discuss bankruptcy, collection defense, and credit issues.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Legal Assistance for Military program (LAMP) is a project of the American Bar Association (ABA) that helps active/deployed military personnel in need of pro bono legal assistance for civil issues. It is the program policy that all requests for pro bono representation must come from either a local Judge Advocate General (JAG) office or the ABA Military Pro Bono Project. The Utah State Bar does not accept requests directly from the service members.
For JAG referred cases, the service member must submit the LAMP intake form to ascertain whether or not they qualify for assistance. The ABA will occasionally send requests for assistance from the LAMP. The contact for the ABA is Jason T. Vail, Project Director, Military Pro Bono Project, American Bar Association Division for Legal Services, 312-988-5783, fax 312-988-5483, email@example.com, 321 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60654-7598, www.militaryprobono.org.
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.
Service Member Attorney Volunteer (SMAV)
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:
- Trying to find and contact the service member.
- Notifying the service member of the case.
- Communicating to the court whether you have been able to locate and contact the service member.
- Advising the service member of their rights and options.
- 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.
- Appearing at hearings as needed to decide whether to stay this case.
- Notifying the court and parties if the service member hires you for representation beyond the scope of your agreement.
- 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.
Habeas Corpus – 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.
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.
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.
Court Visitor Program is a project put on by the Utah State Courts it is a district court volunteer program that aims to protect vulnerable adults under guardianship, assist guardians and improve judges’ decisions. A court visitor investigates, observes, and reports to the court, ensuring that the protected person’s needs are met, that their property is protected and being used for their benefit, and that the court’s orders are being followed.
The time commitment for volunteer attorneys on this project varies according to the particular opportunity that you would want to get involved in. Volunteers are appointed by the court, receive mandatory 10 to 12 hour training (possibly eligible for CLE credits), contribute 8 to 10 hours per month for one year on a flexible schedule.
For more information please contact the Program Coordinator at 801-578-3925 or firstname.lastname@example.org, you can also find more information at www.utcourts.gov/visitor.
The Pro Bono Initiative, at the University of Utah, S.J. Quinney College of Law, actively supports legal services in our state by encouraging law students to accept placements with practicing attorneys to assist them with their pro bono work. Pro Bono Initiative students cannot give legal advice without attorney supervision. However, students do provide valuable assistance to attorneys doing pro bono legal work for low-income Utahns and for non-profit agencies.
By encouraging students to participate in the Pro Bono Initiative the College of Law seeks to promote an ethic of public service among students, attorneys and others associated with the practice of law. A student volunteer can make it easier for an attorney to accept a pro bono project, and by receiving student assistance attorneys provide priceless mentoring for that individual while fulfilling an ethical obligation to the community by providing a service that only attorneys can.
Students from the law school have participated in pro bono projects ranging from death penalty appeals to street law, and from incorporation to legislative needs of non-profit organizations.
Attorneys interested in having a law student assist with a pro bono case should contact the Pro Bono Initiative office at 801-581-5418.
The Pro Bono Initiative
University of Utah
S.J. Quinney College of Law
332 South 1400 East, Rm 112
Salt Lake City, Utah 84112-6833
Family Law Clinic has MOVED & changed DAYS!!!
Clinic will meet every 1st & 3rd Wednesday of the month. If the 1st & 3rd Wednesday of the month is a holiday, the clinic will be closed.
- Time: 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. Call (801) 924-3370 for any scheduling changes.
- Location: Matheson Courthouse, 450 South State Street, SLC
To provide instruction and assistance to low-income Utahans who cannot afford legal representation regarding family law related issues.
PRO SE means: doing it for yourself, without hiring an attorney to represent you. At our Pro Se Legal Clinics, an attorney assisted by volunteers will offer instruction, answer questions, and help clinic attendees complete legal documents for non-criminal legal proceedings to represent themselves in court proceedings.
The clinic is open to any low-income Utahan who walks in “on a first come first serve basis.” The clinic does not make appointments.
The Clinic may have volunteers that speak a second language. However, if your English is not very good, we strongly suggest that you bring someone with you who can interpret.
For the best use of everyone’s time, it is important that all clinic attendees arrive as early as possible, while still understanding and expecting that they might be the last person served. The latest that services for any individual attendee can begin is one half hour before the clinic closes.
- S. J. Quinney College of Law–Pro Bono Initiative
- University of Utah–Women’s Resource Center
- Utah Legal Services
- Legal Aid Society of Salt Lake City
- Utah State Bar–Family Law Section
- Volunteer Lawyers, Legal Professionals & Law Students
Other Attorney Resources:
- Legal Forms
- Utah Courts’ Forms – Adoptions, Child Welfare, Child Support Worksheet & Income Tables, Custody Evaluation, Garnishment, Guardianship, Protective Orders, Small Claims, and Others.