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Frequently Asked Questions About Pro Bono Work
How does a case get to a pro bono attorney?
Potential pro bono clients call the Statewide Legal Services (SLS) Hotline. The caller is screened for financial eligibility (approximately 125% of the federal poverty level or $24,000 for a family of four). After an initial interview by SLS staff, the client is referred to the SLS Pro Bono Unit who in turn attempts to place the case.
When I register to be a pro bono volunteer, am I obligated to take a case?
Volunteers are asked to take one pro bono case per year. Pro bono staff from SLS will call you when there is a client in need. If the timing of that call is not good for you, it is certainly appropriate to pass on that particular case.
What about malpractice insurance?
SLS provides primary malpractice insurance for any pro bono case which we refer.
What kind of substantive support can I expect?
SLS, in conjunction with the Connecticut Bar Association's "Connecticut Pro Bono Network," offers a range of training. Free substantive training is offered to all volunteers. If you need to consult on an individual case, mentors from the CBA or one of the legal services programs are available to assist you. For more information, please call one of the pro bono staff from SLS.
I am not a litigator. Are there any pro bono opportunities for me?
There are a number of pro bono opportunities for attorneys who are not litigators. These include assisting clients at pro se family and security deposit clinics. Attorneys also assist with the SLS Hotline by conducting telephone interviews with clients. Most of these programs are held in the evening hours.
How much time will a pro bono case take?
Attorneys are asked to submit closing reports for all pro bono cases which they accept. Those reports show that the average pro bono case takes 15 hours. Clients are referred to pro bono attorneys for a specific legal problem. We encourage pro bono attorneys to enter into retainer agreements with their pro bono clients. If the client informs you that they have an additional legal matter, you are not required to assist with that case. Please tell the client to call SLS for more information. If you do wish to assist with an additional legal problem, you are also advised to call SLS so that you can get pro bono credit for the second case.
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