Pro Bono Net would like to recognize the thousands of volunteer lawyers who make a huge difference for those in need and the incredibly important work of pro bono volunteers in building our capacity to meet the vast unmet need for civil legal services.
This year, National Pro Bono Week’s theme is “Rising to Meet the Challenge: Pro Bono Responds to COVID-19.” This has been a challenging year. The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the delivery of legal services and pro bono across the country. In the midst of all of the uncertainty, it is important to celebrate the hard work and progress volunteer attorneys and organizations have made during the pandemic in order to respond to COVID-19.
Below are some of the ways Pro Bono Net has been rising to meet the challenge and how we have been responding to COVID-19.
National Pro Bono Opportunities Guide
Pro Bono Net’s National Pro Bono Opportunities Guide is a joint project of Pro Bono Net, the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service, and its project the ABA Center for Pro Bono, in collaboration with probono.net network partners across the country. This year, we have continued to update the guide to reflect COVID-19 or remote pro bono opportunities. By visiting the opportunities guide, attorneys can learn more about an organization, opportunities available, and reach out to the organization’s contact about their interest in volunteering.
This Guide, which features detailed profiles of more than 1,000 US organizations offering pro bono opportunities, was viewed nearly 20,000 in 2019, and has been accessed more than 3,000 times since COVID-19 became a pandemic in March. Pro bono does not have to slow down due to the pandemic, to visit the guide and volunteer, go to www.probono.net/network/volunteer/
Remote Legal Support Platform
Pro Bono Net’s Remote Legal Support Platform allows legal services providers, pro bono initiatives, courts and community partners to rapidly build and manage a remote legal support program to increase access to legal assistance for communities in need, regardless of location. By enabling organizations to enroll, manage and link volunteers with remotely located clients for advice, counsel and document preparation, the platform bridges barriers that prevent people from getting help and can dramatically expand the help available. The remote legal support technology was originally created to provide remote services in New York, and since the pandemic, has been adapted in other regions to rapidly build and manage pro bono virtual service programs.
This week, we celebrate attorneys like Legal Information for Families Today (LIFT)’s Family Legal Connection program’s volunteer Jeannine Choi, who are helping people affected by COVID-19. Jeannine shares her experience about her children’s safety during the pandemic. You can watch the video here. Family Legal Connection is one of the remote legal support programs powered by Pro Bono Net’s technology.
LawHelp Interactive (LHI) is Pro Bono Net’s national document assembly program. If you cannot afford an attorney and have to represent yourself in court, filling out legal paperwork correctly can be a confusing and difficult process. LHI helps people create free and accurate court forms simply and easily, an essential step towards resolving a legal problem.
At a moment when there’s widespread interest across the legal sector in technology’s potential to close the justice gap, LawHelp Interactive (LHI) is already serving more than a million people a year. More than 660,000 forms were assembled using LHI in 2019, the highest volume in the platform’s history. Over the past decade, more than 5 million forms have been completed using LHI for issues such as child support and custody, domestic violence, debt collection, foreclosures, evictions, divorce and more. In the wake of the pandemic related court closures and enforced social distancing, an average of 30,000 interactive interviews hosted on LHI are being used by self helpers and their advocates every week.
Immigration Advocates Network’s Pro Bono Resource Center
Immigration Advocates Network (IAN), a program of Pro Bono Net, has a Pro Bono Resource Center that connects pro bono lawyers to a calendar of events, alerts, volunteer guide, and other pro bono members. While we update this Resource Center, pro bono lawyers can join the nonprofit resource center. You do not need membership or a password to access:
- IAN’s new COVID-19 related/remote legal resource page: https://www.immigrationadvocates.org/remotelegal/
- Training calendar: https://www.immigrationadvocates.org/calendar/
- News: https://www.immigrationadvocates.org/news/
- Alerts: https://www.immigrationadvocates.org/nonprofit/alerts/
- Volunteer guide: https://www.immigrationadvocates.org/probono/volunteer/
- Training webinars: to view IAN’s recorded webinars, join the nonprofit resource center. Membership is free for pro bono lawyers and nonprofit staff.
If you go to IAN’s website and scroll to the bottom, you can also sign up for updates and to receive their monthly newsletter. Check back in 2021 for new library content, updated links, and more access to resources, to support your pro bono work.
For more more information about Pro Bono Net, visit our website at: www.probono.net