Pro-Bono Attorney Program
Pro-Bono means For the Public Good in latin! Given the high demand for our services, we depend on our volunteers to address some of the needs of our clients and the organization as a whole. We welcome volunteers from multiple backgrounds who are willing to share their skills and spend time serving their community. Training and supervision are provided to all volunteers.
Foreclosure (Pre-Litigation) – Advice & Counsel
Our Foreclosure Prevention Unit continues to experience high demand from homeowners and other stakeholders who seek our legal assistance in preventing foreclosure, and we expect that need to continue, if not increase, when courts begin to reopen as COVID subsides. With regard to mortgage foreclosures, while most contact us with litigation pending, roughly 10-15 individuals per month in our seven counties seek LSHV’s assistance in a pre-litigation posture. Clients are in need of competent advice on what steps they can take to avert litigation and how best they can protect their rights should litigation ensue. LSHV staff attorneys will train volunteers on Foreclosure Law. After the training, those interested volunteers will provide pre-litigation advice over the phone to clients.
Unemployment Benefits Assistance
Legal Service providers anticipate increased need for unemployment related matters in light of COVID, including, but not limited to, providing advice to the unemployed client regarding entitlement to benefits, up to and including representing clients at unemployment hearings before the Department of Labor. LSHV staff attorneys can train volunteers on UIB law and representation of clients at hearings and we can provide opportunities to volunteers to assist clients in need of unemployment assistance.
Advanced Directives Assistance
With this program we can train volunteers and subsequently pair them with clients to assist in the preparation and execution of Advanced Directives, such as Living Wills, Health Care Proxys, Powers of Attorney, and simple Wills.
Representation of clients in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy matters is an ongoing need for LSHV. Any experienced bankruptcy practitioners who could directly represent clients in Chapter 7 matters are especially needed and we would welcome any referrals to work with those attorneys in the Pro Bono Unit.
This program would train attorneys and/or paralegals how to assemble, execute and complete an uncontested divorce. After the clinic, LSHV would connect pro se clients with the trained attorneys to assist them in filling out the forms and any ancillary legal documents appropriately. As part of this program, LSHV and/or a volunteer attorney could follow up with the clients assisted in the clinic to determine whether the divorce papers were filed correctly.
Housing – Direct Representation
The need for housing representation is great and will continue to be needed in the wake of COVID-19. In this program, LSHV would train pro bono attorneys on how to represent clients in housing/eviction matters. After the training, LSHV would place landlord-tenant cases directly with the trained volunteers for direct representation. Cases may also include public housing and/or federally subsidized housing terminations, where attorneys would represent clients at termination hearings or attempt to settle the matters prior to having the hearing.
Housing – Advice & Counsel
Attorneys would be given a similar training to the Direct Representation program (above), however, after training cases would be placed with pro bono volunteers to provide legal advice only to clients. The advice would be given by phone from the attorneys’ office with possibly a follow up letter to reiterate the advice given. Given that this is limited scope representation, no formal conflict check is needed. Expansion to advice in other LSHV practice areas is possible, as well.
Child Support – Phone/In Person
A training, in the form of a CLE, will train attorneys on the basics of New York’s child support procedure and substance. LSHV manages and staffs a child support hotline every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. After volunteer attorneys are trained at the CLE, they can assist with providing advice on LSHV’s child support hotline. Access to the hotline can take place at the volunteer’s personal office, or at any one of LSHV’s offices. Further, if desired, LSHV can directly place Child Support Cases with trained attorneys for direct representation in child support matters. LSHV would place victims of domestic violence with those volunteer attorneys who would directly represent clients in child support matters. Full representation cases would require attorneys to be admitted to the New York State bar; however, attorneys admitted outside of New York could staff the hotline.
Pro bono volunteers would assist clients with U-Visa applications. The U-Visa grants temporary status to immigrant victims of certain crimes who have been helpful to law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity, and who have suffered mental or physical abuse as a result of the crime. Primarily LSHV assists domestic violence survivors. Pro Bono assistance would be needed to draft and finalize the U-Visa application, which includes a comprehensive affidavit from the client which details why he/she qualifies for the U-Visa.