How the Project Works
Thursday, January 26, 2006
- Organization: MVLP
Potential clients are screened by Legal Services to determine income eligibility and legal merit. The Project completes an in-house intake and pairs the client with a volunteer attorney. After the referral is complete, the Project sends written confirmation of the referral to the volunteer lawyer, the client, and the referring Legal Services office.
Upon completion of the case, the lawyer is asked to send the file back to the MVLP along with a case closure form. Reasonable litigation expenses incurred for referred cases are paid by the Project. Expenses include:
- Witness and subpoena costs
- Long distance telephone charges
- Mileage fees
- Filing fees (in cases where the client cannot pay or the case cannot be filed in forma pauperis )
- Depositions via Mississippi Court Reporters Association's Pro Bono Committee
- Legal Support via the Mississippi Association of Legal Assistants' Pro Bono Committee
After the referral, the MVLP director and staff periodically review each case to ensure that the match is mutually beneficial, to update the files on the progress of the case, and to record pro bono hours contributed by the volunteer attorney. Minimum records are to be kept by the lawyers and returned to the Project at the conclusion of each case so that the lawyer will be given credit for his/her contribution and so that the final court decision can be kept with the client's MVLP file. Rule 6.1 of the Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct provides as an aspirational goal, 50 hours of pro bono legal assistance by members of the Bar each year.
To assist with research, the small library of the MVLP and the libraries of the Legal Services Programs are available to the volunteer lawyer. Serving as a clearing house for memorandums, bulletins, and newsletters the MVLP has materials available on a variety of issues. The Project carries professional liability insurance on all MVLP members.Pro Bono takes many forms. In most cases, it involves acceptance of a case for simple litigation. For a great many cases, pro bono service is counseling and advice, brief telephone calls or letters on the client's behalf. Sometimes it involves being a mentor, serving as faculty for a legal education seminar, or spending one hour weekly or monthly at a neighborhood legal clinic. For additional information please click here.