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Alabama Pro Bono Legal Information, Resources and Assistances

In Alabama, Pro Bono means that an attorney assists you free of charge. a/k/a Probono Legal Services

Alabama Pro Bono Summary: A Volunteer Lawyers Program (VLP) to provide Pro Bono service is administered by the State Bar Association. The purpose is to provide free legal services to low-income Alabamians in civil matters. The VLP has a full time Director who is an attorney.

Examples of people they assist:

--Elderly couple threatened with eviction from their apartment.
-- Young woman with small children seeking protection from an abusive husband.
-- terminally ill parent trying to prepare for his children's future.
-- many more - these are only examples.

There are over 723,000 persons living below the federal poverty level in Alabama and the number is increasing. With limited staff and budgets, federally funded Legal Services programs cannot handle all the legal problems of these overly-stricken Alabamians. As a result, many poor persons find themselves waiting for, or even without, legal representation in matters crucial to their well-being.

The VLP is funded by the Alabama Law Foundation through an IOLTA grant to provide pro bono legal services in civil, non-fee-generating matters. Our clients include 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.

How the Program Works The process is as follows:

All potential VLP clients are first screened and interviewed for income eligibility by intake professionals, thus assuring that they are indeed eligible for free legal assistance. All referrals to volunteer attorneys are made by the VLP 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. Following a conflicts check and assuming the case is accepted by the volunteer, 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.

Alabama Pro Bono Laws and Rules: None

Alabama Pro Bono Contacts:

Linda L. Lund, Director
Volunteer Lawyers Program
Alabama State Bar
415 Dexter Avenue - Pro Bono Office
Post Office Box 671
Montgomery, Alabama 36101
(334) 269-1515
1-800-354-6154

Additional Information Links:

Mobile VLP Program
Birmingham VLP Program

Awards and Participating Attorneys: The Bar ALP program gives an award each year to firms that assist with Pro Bono matters. The firm of Alford, Clausen & McDonald, LLC was selected by the Alabama State Bar and honored with the Alabama State Bar Pro Bono Award for 2008. This award is given to one law firm in the State in recognition for the contributions made by the firm to provide legal services to those who may be unable to afford a lawyer.

References: Alabama State Bar VLP Project: http://www.alabar.org/members/vlp_more.cfm