Clinics & Projects
Suffolk Family Law Clinic
Volunteer attorneys are needed to give legal advice and assist with drafting pleadings on a variety of family law topics including divorce, custody, paternity, contempt and modification actions.
Attorneys provide Limited Assistance Representation (LAR) to clients, meaning they are only involved in the case for that day. Not trained in LAR? Watch a training and read required materials.
HOW IT WORKS*
Clients come to the Court Service Center with their guardianship related need. The CSC send clients to us for screening. From there:
- A paralegal or law student screens interested clients for eligibility
- A VLP attorney matches the client with a volunteer attorney.
- The volunteer attorney:
- Provides advice and information
- Drafts pleadings
- Draft modifications
We have forms, files, reference materials and other necessary items for volunteer attorneys.
Our Family Law clinic is currently operating each Wednesday from 9 am until the last client leaves. We do our best to keep this end time around 1 pm, but some cases can run a little over that.
VLP asks that all first-time volunteers sign up under the shadowing section to begin. We want to make sure volunteers have a sense of how the clinic is structured before they start taking cases alone.
The clinic is run over Zoom. Each person who signs into the Zoom will see a message when they enter the waiting room. The Host (a staff member) will let them in shortly.
Volunteers are asked to arrive at 9 am to learn about the cases scheduled for clinic and troubleshoot any technical issues that may occur before clients start arriving at 9:30 am. As clients begin to arrive, volunteers will be paired with a client’s case and possibly other volunteers (in the case of shadowing or low client volume). Once they have come to at least one clinic, the volunteers will be given limited access to our case management system. This will allow continuing volunteers to view documents we have pulled from masscourts and access blank court forms we have uploaded.
The volunteer(s) will be moved into a private breakout room with the client. If it is an advice-only case, the volunteer will have as much time as necessary to speak with the client and provide the necessary advice. Volunteers who are drafting documents will share the blank forms through the screen share function and complete the court forms digitally with the client. The supervising staff attorney should review any forms drafted during clinic before the client leaves the meeting. VLP will take care of mail, emailing, or e-filing the client’s documents. Volunteers will complete an Assistance Provided survey after each case, so there is a record of the services provided to the client and a record of pro-bono hours for each volunteer, should they need that information in the future.
If you have any specific questions about clinic or want any clarification about the above information, please email Pro Bono Manager Emelia Andres at email@example.com
BENEFITS OF VOLUNTEERING
- Limited Assistance Representation means you start and finish with your client on the same day; no greater commitment with court proceedings or legal services needed.
- Mentorship: Our newer attorneys learn from more experienced attorneys, and more seasoned lawyers get the chance to mentor and guide.
- Networking: Meet fellow attorneys in your area of practice and get connected with other legal professionals.
The Volunteer Lawyers Project provides primary malpractice insurance for all pro bono work.
If you don’t have experience in family law cases, we strongly suggest that you attend one of VLP’s free Family Law trainings before volunteering. Please check our calendar for upcoming training dates.