Types of Cases the Birmingham Volunteer Lawyers Program Can Help With
- Bankruptcy Consumer (to include utility, credit problems, defense of contract actions, insurance)
- Defense of Tort Claims
- Driver’s License or Tag Suspension/Revocation
- Education/Special Education
- Employment (to include employment discrimination, employee benefits, etc.)
- Family Law (divorce not including the need for temporary orders; category includes alimony, child support, custody, legal separation, and post-divorce proceedings)
- Housing (to include private landlord/tenant, fair housing disputes)
- Powers of Attorney
- Probate (simple wills, small estates & guardianships/conservatorships)
- Real Property (to include deeds, mortgage foreclosures, evictions)
- Social Security Issues/Benefits
Types of Referrals
The Birmingham Volunteer Lawyers Program is funded, by the Alabama State Bar, Alabama Law Foundation, Legal Services Alabama and the Alabama Access to Justice Commission, to provide pro bono legal services in civil, non-fee-generating matters. Our clients are low-income persons who cannot afford an attorney’s fees. They have a wide range of legal problems including, among others, consumer, domestic, housing, and probate matters.
The Birmingham Volunteer Lawyers Program is a panel-model program, meaning the attorneys designate the area(s) of referred cases. We matching the volunteer attorney’s interest/practice area with a client whose need falls within that area of law.
How the Program Works:
- All potential Birmingham Volunteer Lawyers Program clients are screened and interviewed for income eligibility to confirm their eligibility for free legal assistance.
- All referrals to volunteer attorneys are made by the Birmingham Volunteer Lawyers Program Director in Montgomery or local pro bono coordinators (Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile) based upon the area of law involved in the client’s problem. The volunteer attorney is contacted by letter. Copies of intake information are forwarded to the attorney. The client is advised of the referral by letter from the program and is instructed to call the volunteer attorney immediately to schedule an appointment at a mutually convenient time. If the client fails to contact the attorney within 30 days, the case is closed.
- All cases are accepted on a pro bono basis and the volunteer attorney is expected to handle only the one specific legal problem of the client which was referred by the VLP. Cases should be filed in forma pauperis and volunteer attorneys are encouraged to use an affidavit of substantial hardship wherever possible. Otherwise, clients are to assume responsibility for court costs and incidental fees, whenever they are financially able to do so.
- The VLP reporting requirements are simple. You are expected to complete cases referred to you. Three months after referral, the VLP Director or local pro bono coordinator will send you a form to advise the program of the status of the case. You will also be asked to return a case-closing memo at completion advising the VLP of the final disposition of the case and the number of hours of services provided.
- Malpractice insurance coverage can be made available by the program at no cost to volunteer attorneys for pro bono cases handled through the VLP. Contact the VLP at (334) 269-1515 or 1-800-354-6154 for more information or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why Become a Volunteer
The VLP offers you a simple, well-organized mechanism for fulfilling your professional responsibility to make legal counsel available to indigents consistent with a true sense of professionalism and Rule 6.1 of the Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct. Equally important, our volunteer attorneys gain excellent client and courtroom experience since they are fully in charge of their pro bono cases. For more seasoned attorneys, program participation provides an avenue for sharing expertise with newer members of the profession by serving as mentors or co-counsel to VLP attorneys. Most important of all, VLP volunteer attorneys gain great personal satisfaction from helping the less fortunate among us and from making a positive, visible difference in their communities.
Although helping others in trouble is often its own reward, VLP volunteer attorneys also receive recognition for their service through annual awards and certificates of appreciation given by the Alabama State Bar, special events spotlighting community pro bono activities, articles in Alabama State Bar publications and free training seminars for CLE credit.