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 “Moving Forward in a Post-Pandemic World” The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the delivery of legal services and pro bono across the country. It is important to celebrate the hard work and progress volunteer attorneys and organizations have made during the pandemic and will continue to make as we start to move towards a “post-pandemic” world.
Below are some of the ways Pro Bono Net has been responding to COVID-19. These initiatives have been helping advocates as well as those affected legally by the pandemic since COVID-19 first became a threat. Legal issues caused by the pandemic, such as housing issues, unemployment, child support and family law issues, domestic violence, and more, will linger well into a “post-pandemic” world and Pro Bono Net programs will continue to support those affected.
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 organizations offering pro bono opportunities across the United States, has been viewed over 23,000 times since COVID-19 became a pandemic in March 2020. Pro bono does not have to slow down due to the pandemic. To visit the guide and volunteer, visit www.probono.net/network/volunteer/.
Remote Legal Connect Platform
Pro Bono Net’s Remote Legal Connect 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. The Remote Legal Connect technology was originally created to provide remote legal services in New York, and since the pandemic, has been adapted in three additional regions. The program has helped address a surge in legal needs related to COVID-19 pandemic, and continues to enable self-represented litigants to virtually connect with pro bono attorneys for legal advice and document preparation. To learn more, visit www.remotelegalconnect.org.
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 empowers people to create free and accurate court forms simply and easily, an essential step towards resolving a legal problem. LHI forms are created by expert legal aid and partner courts, and LHI serves the forms and provides the infrastructure that creates on average 2000 free documents per day.
As the global COVID-19 pandemic and financial crisis exacerbated inequality and disproportionately affected people of color and low-income communities, it also increased the civil legal needs of millions. By using LawHelp Interactive’s easy-to-use online forms, courts and nonprofits were immediately able to expand access to critical legal documents and empower those who the American legal system leaves to fend for themselves. In 2020, LHI served one million interviews resulting in 710,378 legal documents to help put the power of the law into the hands of the people. Toward the end of September 2021, LHI has already served almost the same amount of forms with three months left to go. LHI usage continues to grow because it is a lifeline for those without access to legal resources in their regions.
Pro Bono Manager
For over 10 years, Pro Bono Manager™ has helped law firms run their pro bono programs more efficiently. Pro Bono Manager is a cloud-hosted SaaS application that securely integrates data from your firm’s personnel, billing, timekeeping, and docketing systems, and conforms to your firm’s brand and identity. Features can be configured to meet your unique pro bono management needs. Our web-based, mobile-responsive tools increase your firm’s capacity to manage pro bono work.
Immigration Advocates Network
Immigration Advocates Network (IAN), a program of Pro Bono Net, welcomes pro bono lawyers to our Nonprofit Resource Center. It features a training calendar, alerts, libraries organized by topics, and more. Membership is free for pro bono lawyers and nonprofit staff. Helpful materials include:
- The Afghanistan Crisis Response resource folder, located within “2021 Practice Alerts” in the IAN Library
- Updated sections of the IAN Library now highlight “getting started” materials: See the VAWA, U Visa, and T Visa folders, and watch for more updates in the months ahead.
- IAN’s Remote Legal Resource page has strategies and tools to help you connect to pro bono clients: https://www.immigrationadvocates.org/remotelegal/
- Training calendar: https://www.immigrationadvocates.org/calendar/
- Alerts: https://www.immigrationadvocates.org/nonprofit/alerts/
- Volunteer opportunities: Ongoing updates to IAN’s Volunteer Guide indicate which organizations have language capacity or provide legal services that help Afghans (i.e. humanitarian parole, special immigrant visas).
- Training webinars: How to Support Pro Bono Work and Partnerships
- Podcasts: Remote Pro Bono Projects and Pro Bono Legal Services During the Pandemic
To view IAN’s library, recorded webinars, and podcasts, join the Nonprofit Resource Center.
To sign up for updates and receive our newsletter, scroll to the bottom of www.immigrationadvocates.org and enter your email address. Check back weekly for new library content, updated links, and more access to resources, to support your pro bono work.
Emergency Response & Recovery
Pro Bono Net continues to support capacity-building efforts for emergency response and recovery related to climate-driven disasters and the pandemic. This year, we partnered with Equal Justice Works, the American Bar Association Disaster Legal Services Program, and Lone Star Legal Aid to co-host a program on strategies attorneys have used in responding to climate-related emergencies during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program, which was part of the first-ever Disaster Resilience Awareness Month, increased visibility about the role of legal aid and pro bono in disaster recovery and resilience efforts.
For more more information about Pro Bono Net’s programs and initiatives, visit our website at: www.probono.net/programs