Get Involved

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

If you are considering volunteering but still have questions, read our FAQs. These are the most common questions from our volunteers. If you don’t see your question feel free ask us. mblack@vlpnet.org

General:

A. No time for a full case, you can:
(1) take a case for Limited Assistance Representation (LAR). LAR refers to taking a case for a limited time period or for a limited purpose such as a specific hearing.
(2) Volunteer at Lawyer for the Day Projects or Clinics.
(3) If you are an experienced attorney, you can serve as a mentor for newer pro bono attorneys. Mentoring is rewarding and flexible.
(4) Contact VLP Manager Miranda Black at 857-320-6446 or mblack@vlpnet.org to discuss the range of pro bono opportunities at VLP.
(5) You can provide financial support –learn more about ways to give.

Yes! Many retired and inactive attorneys volunteer with VLP. VLP will work with you to complete the paperwork required for these pro bono statuses.

Retired attorneys whose only legal practice consists of pro bono work for organizations like VLP can assume Pro Bono Retired status at no cost with the Board of Bar Overseers.

Inactive attorneys who limit their practice to pro bono can assume Pro Bono Inactive Status for a reduced BBO registration fee.

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A: You do not need your own malpractice insurance to volunteer at VLP. VLP provides primary malpractice insurance coverage for all VLP pro bono cases. Even if you have your own insurance, your VLP pro bono case will be covered by VLP’s malpractice insurance

You are not responsible for finding or paying for the interpreter on your case. VLP retains interpreters to assist in your communication with clients of limited English proficiency. Interpreters bill VLP directly. The attorney only needs to sign the interpreter’s time sheet to verify the interpreter’s time spent on the case.

Courts and administrative agencies are obligated to provide interpreters without cost for legal proceedings. Please arrange for an interpreter with the specific court or agency.

As a volunteer, you are not responsible for filing or legal fees pertaining to your VLP case. Whenever possible, attorneys should file an Affidavit of Indigency for the client to get filing fees and court costs waived or paid for by the Commonwealth. VLP has limited funds to assist with litigation costs that are not otherwise covered. Please contact VLP to discuss your particular situation or needs.

Some routine costs are inherent in legal representation, e.g. copying, stationery, postage, etc.  Panel attorneys may use the copier and postage meter in VLP’s office. VLP is unable to reimburse attorneys for mileage or parking.

Housing, Family, Guardianship, Consumer, Employment, Bankruptcy, and Domestic Abuse. See Full List

We do not have a time commitment. Attorneys can volunteer as often they are able.

Volunteer Lawyers Project offers many different types of opportunities and cases. Explore the many options.

Ready? If you haven’t already done so, fill out the Join VLP form, then contact our Pro Bono Manager Miranda Black at 857-320-6446 or mblack@vlpnet.org. Miranda will make sure you are all set up and informed about available cases.

You may also want to check out our training calendar to see if there are any upcoming trainings in the areas you’re interested in. The Calendar will also list our New Volunteer Orientation sessions which we hold every other month.

Case Representation:

A. VLP has pro bono cases for attorneys at every level of experience, including basic cases for attorneys with no previous experience. We can provide you with a mentor experienced in your legal area who can answer questions and provide guidance. We also offer trainings in all subjects we cover and strongly recommend that you take a training in the relevant subject before taking a case.
Click here for our Calendar of upcoming trainings

Fill out the Join VLP form on this website and you’ll receive a login for our VLP Portal. There you can check available cases and gain access to our volunteer resources. We can also email you periodic updates with descriptions of available cases in your area of interest. Contact us or call 857-320-6446 and let us know the type of case you’re interested in and your level of experience.

Getting the File and Referral Memo
VLP staff meet with clients for an intake before a case is referred. During this meeting, we gather documents and assess the case for referral. When a case is ready for a volunteer attorney, the Pro Bono Manager sends an email to volunteers interested in that particular legal area with a brief summary of the case. Once you decide to take a case, you will receive a detailed memo and the documents in the file. We will also confirm the referral in writing with the client. You should reach out to your client to schedule an appointment.

Interpreters
VLP retains interpreters to assist in your communication with clients of limited English proficiency. We assign interpreters once the case has been accepted. The interpreter will be available to relay information throughout the duration of the case.  The interpreter can also set up and attend meetings, provide interpreting services for phone calls and emails, and accompany you to a hearing for pre- and post-hearing client discussions.  Both the client and the attorney are given the name and contact information for the interpreter. Interpreters bill VLP directly. The volunteer attorney only needs to sign the interpreter’s time sheet to verify the interpreter’s time spent on the cases.

 

Courts and administrative agencies are obligated to provide interpreters without cost for legal proceedings. Please arrange for an interpreter with the specific court or agency.

Meeting the Client
You may meet with clients at your own office, the client’s home, or at VLP.  To reserve a room at VLP, email Lais Teixeira at lteixeira@vlpnet.org or call 617-423-0648. Please provide the receptionist with your name, the client’s name, the room size needed, the date and time of the appointment, the approximate length of time required, and a number at which you can be reached.

Ongoing Support and Mentoring
VLP staff attorneys are available to consult with you on your pro bono cases. If this is your first case in a subject area, we will pair you with a mentor who is an experienced volunteer attorney and member of Senior Partners for Justice. If you would like a mentor and have not been assigned one, please contact Pro Bono Manager Miranda Black at 857-320-6446 or by email to mblack@vlpnet.org. If you have expertise in an area and are interested in serving as a mentor, please contact Senior Partners for Justice Manager Barbara Siegel at bsiegel@vlpnet.org or 857-320-6447. 

 

Email Groups
We have email discussion groups or listservs available in many subject areas. They are a good way to get advice and sample practice materials about your pro bono cases from other attorneys. You must be registered as a volunteer and logged in to  join our listserv.

 

Monthly Mentoring Roundtable 
A roundtable is a peer-to-peer mentoring forum. It is an opportunity for volunteer attorneys to meet over lunch to talk about cases, dealing with clients, ethical issues, and the practice of law generally. You will learn from each other as you discuss issues that come up in your pro bono cases or practices. 

 

Family Law/Guardianship 
First Wednesday of the month at the Court Service Center at the Brooke Courthouse, 1 to 2 p.m., right after the Family Law Clinic. 

Fees and Costs
Whenever possible, attorneys should file an Affidavit of Indigency for the client to get filing fees and court costs waived or paid for by the Commonwealth  (Affidavit of Indigency). VLP has limited funds to assist with litigation costs that are not otherwise covered. Please contact VLP to discuss your particular situation or needs.

Some routine costs are inherent in legal representation, e.g. copying, stationery, postage, etc.  Panel attorneys may use the copier and postage meter in VLP’s office. VLP is unable to reimburse attorneys for mileage or parking.

 

Case Management
VLP will check in with both you and the client periodically during the case to ensure that you are getting any support you need and that the matter is progressing satisfactorily. At the time of case closure, VLP will send a form to you requesting basic information about the case disposition.

VLP has a range of pro bono cases, from very basic to complex. We provide trainings and have experienced staff and volunteer attorneys who can mentor you in your pro bono cases.

To view available cases on our VLP Portal –You must have registered (submit the Join VLP form) and log-in with your credentials.