What is the best way to recruit and utilize corporate in house counsel? Government attorneys?
Corporate and government lawyers are a source of volunteers which is greatly underutilized. It might be worth the time to check with larger corporations to see whether they have a policy on pro bono work. Many may and if so, there may be a contact within the corporation that you can deal with to place pro bono cases.
Many corporate/governmant lawyers are prohibited from taking cases, so they don’t do pro bono work at all. This doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be recruited for pro bono work, we just need to provide them with opportunities that would not be prohibited by their employers. Some ideas:
1. Courthouse pro bono projects – e.g. assist victims of domestic violence get their protective orders.
2. Community Outreach Projects – sponsor a legal clinic in conjunction with a community agency activity, such as a medical clinic for low-income persons. Many are held after regular working hours.
3. Telephone advice.
4. Assist with fundraising.
5. Mediate disputes.
6. Speak to senior or veterans groups.
7. Write or edit community education or volunteer lawyer materials.
The sky is the limit here. If there is a particular community need, perhaps these lawyers could help fill the need in some way. If a courthouse project is contemplated, it is best to start with the judges. Let them identify the project which might assist them the most. This way you would have full support from the judges, which is very important for the success of your project.
Another concern for many attorneys is the lack of professional liability insurance. If your legal aid or pro bono program offers coverage for volunteer attorneys, that certainly would be a plus! Make sure they are aware of this important benefit.
I think the greatest benefit that we offer the attorneys though, is having the opportunity get away from their regular work and enable them to use their legal skills to provide assistance to those who are less fortunate. Pro bono service is a very rewarding experience!
Cindy, great comment and I use some of those same ideas. In addition, we at CLP offer general legal advice clinics and currently have several government attorneys on our volunteer panel. This gives our attorneys the opportunity to assist our clients a few hours a month.
Really helpful….look ahead to visiting again.
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