Vermont attorneys, sign up to be a volunteer for our Pro Bono Program opportunities! Make a difference in someone’s life. If you are an attorney, we need your help now! Below you will find more information about volunteer opportunities.
About Our Pro Bono Opportunities
Legal Services Vermont’s Pro Bono Program is a comprehensive, statewide project to connect our volunteer lawyers with Vermonters in need. As volunteers, each attorney is asked to give some time to help low-income Vermonters, but they give much more. Volunteers give dignity by reaching out and lending a helping hand; they give power to those in fear who face poverty every day; and they give hope where despair is the only reality.
Since the pandemic began, our call volume has increased from approximately 1,000 calls to 2,000 calls per month. Providing assistance to the growing number of pro se litigants is a challenging task. Our pro bono program is integral to our goal of equal access to justice. This is why your help is so desperately needed!
Are you interested in volunteering with us? Check out our Pro Bono Attorney Orientation Packet (PDF file, 564Kb) for answers to frequently asked questions.
In the Summer 2022 issue:
- Why Volunteer? A Statement from Judge Colleen Brown
- Thank you Judge Brown - From Legal Services Vermont
- Volunteer SUCCESS: Habitat for Humanity Case Placement Leads to a New Homeowner in Vermont!
- Rent Escrow Clinic Volunteer Opportunities
- Direct Volunteer Opportunities - Wills & Probate
How to Sign Up to Volunteer
Any interested advocate should first fill out our Volunteer Inquiry Form. After that, you may follow up with Bradley Showman at firstname.lastname@example.org express interest in a specific project. Otherwise, one of our advocates will be in touch with you shortly after you fill out the Volunteer Inquiry Form.
Clinic-Based Pro Bono Opportunities
Rent Escrow Clinics
Legal Services Vermont hosts clinics in several counties to assist unrepresented tenants at rent escrow hearings. You can volunteer at a clinic in the following counties: Addison, Chittenden, Washington and Rutland. This is a great volunteer opportunity to have an immediate impact on an important issue and help prevent homelessness. Below is a schedule of upcoming clinics.
In the afternoon
- September 13
- September 27
- October 11
- October 25
- November 8
- November 22
- December 6
- December 20
- August 10
- September 7
- September 21
- October 19
- November 2
- November 16
- November 30
- December 14
- December 28
- August 22
- September 12
- September 26
- October 10 (formerly Columbus Day, but we are open for business as usual)
- October 24
- November 7
- November 21
- December 5
- December 19
If you are interested in volunteering, please fill out our volunteer inquiry form and contact Bradley Showman, Pro Bono Coordinator, at email@example.com for training information and scheduling. And if you have not already, check out our Rent Escrow Refresher CLE video for free on our YouTube page.
Individual Case Pro Bono Opportunities
Individual Case Referrals
Clients are interviewed to determine what legal issues need to be addressed. Then, we will send periodic emails to attorneys who indicate an interest and expertise in advising on that area of law. Your name and phone number are given to the client only after you have talked to Legal Services Vermont staff and agree to accept the referral.
Bankruptcy Referral List
Legal Services Vermont receives dozens of calls each week from low-income Vermonters with debt hanging over their heads. They call seeking help with a bankruptcy. Often, they have heard from friends that a bankruptcy can solve all their money problems. Since nothing is quite that simple, Legal Services Vermont staff attorneys and paralegals counsel individuals on the law regarding debt collection practices and their rights and responsibilities as debtors. People often want the relief that a bankruptcy can provide. They may not have a full-time job, they may have no attachable property, and they may face steep challenges to keep a roof over their heads and their families fed. These individuals need an attorney to represent them in a simple chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy. We want to be able to refer debtors to attorneys who can help them with bankruptcy for a price that people can afford.
If you would like your name on our referral list, please contact Bradley Showman, Pro Bono Coordinator, at 802-383-2215 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We send this list out to clients so they may hire an attorney to help them with their bankruptcy at a reduced fee.
Social Security Referral List
Legal Services Vermont maintains a list of attorneys who take initial denials for Social Security disability-based benefits cases. Callers are screened for low-income eligibility, but otherwise are left to contact attorneys on the referral list directly.
Probating Estates to Help Preserve Housing
The Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) recently launched the Vermont Homeowner Assistance Program (VHAP) to help homeowners get caught up on mortgage payments. In partnership with VHFA, Vermont Legal Aid launched a Homeowner Legal Assistance Project (HLAP) that helps connect homeowners with mortgage assistance programs.
One major issue for homeowners who are applying for mortgage assistance is that some Vermonters may be living in homes they inherited, but never took through probate. These homeowners risk losing their housing due to delinquent mortgages when the Vermont Homeowner Assistance Program could help get them caught up if they could establish ownership.
This is where your help can make a difference. We are seeking volunteer attorneys with probate experience to help low-income heirs through the probate process to save their primary residences. Adult children and/or spouses of deceased homeowners often risk losing their homes because the bank or mortgage servicer refuses to accept payment or workout mortgage delinquencies with them without sufficient proof of property ownership. With your help, heirs who can prove ownership would then be entitled to assistance through the new the Vermont Homeowner Assistance Program that can help get them current on the mortgage with the assistance of a grant of up to $30,000.
Other Pro Bono Opportunities
Become a Mentor Attorney Through Legal Services Vermont
Becoming a Mentor Attorney is an opportunity for you to help a new attorney or an experienced attorney learn a new area of the law. This allows you to get pro bono credit for teaching what you already know. It helps the project because you are sharing your expertise and helping Legal Services Vermont increase its volunteer panel.
Be a Trainer on a LSV CLE Event
This is another way for you to get pro bono credit and help the project recruit new attorneys. Do you have a special interest in a unique pro bono idea or project? Bradley Showman, Pro Bono Coordinator, will meet with you to discuss what you would like to do to help either on an individual or group basis.
Summer and School-Year Law Student Internships
Legal Services Vermont has a robust internship program that matches interested students with a staff attorney to work on a variety of legal matters. To find out more, check back here soon or contact email@example.com.
What Volunteer Lawyers Get
Pre-Screened Cases and Clinic-Based Opportunities
Legal Services Vermont staff determines financial eligibility for each client before being referred for pro bono service. Clients are interviewed to determine what legal issues need to be addressed. Your name and phone number are given to the client only after you have talked to Legal Services Vermont staff and agree to accept the referral.
Reimbursement of Expenses
Legal Services Vermont will reimburse you for any out-of-pocket expenses from the case such as: long distance phone calls, copying costs, filing fees and mileage. In some cases, other types of expenses can be reimbursed, however you must get pre-approval from the project.
Access To National Law Centers
As a pro bono attorney with us, you receive discounts on valuable materials and events from the National Law Centers. Today our volunteers can access special discounts from the National Consumer Law Center. If you are interested in learning more, please contact the Bradley Showman, Pro Bono Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteers are eligible to receive low-cost or free CLE training. Topics for events include, but are not limited to: foreclosure, eviction defense, public benefits, senior citizen issues and mentoring for new attorneys.