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Advocate Resource Center

Oklahoma Lawyers Making Equal Justice for all a Reality

Pro Bono: Shared Experience

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

  • By: Cindy Goble
  • Organization: Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc.

There  is more than one dimension to providing pro bono assistance to someone in need.  It really is a shared experience.  While clearly, pro bono advice or representation is beneficial to the client; have you ever thought "what's in it for me." 

No reason to feel guilty, but do consider the benefits of volunteering to you,  personally and professionally.

  • Ask a colleague:  It is remarkably rewarding to advise or represent a person who otherwise would not have had the benefit of legal advice or representation.  A small amount of your time can help a family maintain a home or income, help someone keep or get a job, prevent an economic crisis for a struggling family. 
     
  • Benefits of volunteering with Legal Aid's Pro Bono Program:
    • professional liability insurance coverage,
    • free continuing legal education courses,
    • discounts on many continuing legal education courses offered through the Oklahoma Bar Association,
    • access to the Advocate Resource Center (www.probono.net/ok)
    • mentoring or consultation with experienced legal aid attorneys,
    • use of our offices to meet clients.


Already representing a low-income client pro bono
It happens.  A future client may come and you might want to take the case pro bono. 
Take advantage of picking your own pro bono case and obtaining the benefits offered through Legal Aid's program. 
If you already represent someone who qualifies for Legal Aid, call the local Legal Aid office and "self-refer" the case. 
Find our offices at  http://www.legalaidok.org


Fees? 
Nothing prohibits you from collecting attorney fees from the adverse party, as long as the fee does not come from the client or from assets the client would have been entitled to receive.


Future referrals?  
Goodwill is generated by pro bono representation. 
Clients are so proud of having their own lawyer that they will likely tell family, friends and acquaintances which can be an excellent source of private pay case referrals in the future.

Can't fit in another case?

  • Participate an afterhours or weekend outreach clinic. 
    The Rules of Professional Conduct, 5 O.S. § Rule 6.5 (OSCN 2009), Appendix 3-A, provide some protection to those who participate in projects sponsored by nonprofit and court-annexed limited legal services programs.  The rule excuses a conflict of interest as long as the attorney is not aware of the conflict and it is a short-term limited legal service without expectation that there will be continuing representation in the matter.
  • Start advice clinic in your church or other organization?
    These clinics have a huge, positive impact such for low-income and senior citizens. 
  • Help write or edit materials for the public online or printed materials.

Pitch in, experience both sides of volunteering!
http://www.probono.net/link.cfm?14327

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