Virginia State Bar

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December 15, 2022

Pro Bono Program Spotlight Greater Richmond Bar Foundation

Looking for pro bono opportunities? New to pro bono or a seasoned advocate bridging the justice gap? Look no further than the full array of opportunities hosted by the Greater Richmond Bar Foundation!

One of the most comprehensive programs that GRBF hosts is known as the Triage Project – an important collaboration between Central Virginia Legal Aid Society (CVLAS), GRBF, area Firms in Service, and volunteer attorneys, like you! Triage Project volunteers are force multipliers for CVLAS, taking cases in the highest need practice areas, including: no fault divorces, wills, auto warranty contracts, bankruptcy, protective orders in domestic violence cases, housing repair and security deposit recovery, expungement of unlawful detainers, legal help to non-profits, eviction diversion, and wage claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act. 

This one of a kind program was developed in Virginia by GRBF and CVLAS. GRBF’s Director of Administration and Programs, Shane Harper, explained that “Triage is an effective model and helps address the justice gap in the highest need areas for low income Virginians.” And indeed, it has proved to be highly effective, with over 900 volunteers registered for pro bono cases, it’s no surprise other states, like North Carolina, have looked to this program as a model.

Want to engage in pro bono efforts, but worried an opportunity is not in your practice area? The Triage Project has identified champions in each practice area. These champions lead virtual law firms to recruit and train volunteers, and even serve as mentors to volunteers during pro bono representation.

CVLAS, GRBF, and Triage Project champions also have a variety of resources available to help volunteers. With simple procedural instructions and forms, many opportunities such as wills, no fault divorces and expungement clinics provide opportunities for transactional attorneys – ensuring that any volunteer attorney from any practice area can seamlessly provide competent representation. However, if you want extended representation opportunities to enhance your litigation skills, CVLAS volunteers represent victims of domestic violence to obtain permanent protective orders, tenants in actions against their landlords to obtain necessary repairs and their security deposits and employees denied their wages.

Volunteers are fully covered by malpractice insurance, extended by the GRBF and CVLAS. For those future volunteers that do not live in the central Virginia area, GRBF also has statewide opportunities for service, including the Pro Bono Clearinghouse – a program delivering legal services to Virginia 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. Additionally, GRBF Wills Clinics programs can also occur in a community near you, serving populations such as health care workers, first responders, veterans, and seniors in need.

Ready to get involved? The first step is to register as a GRBF and CVLAS volunteer on the legal aid portal, JusticeServer (www.justiceserver.org). After registration, a program administrator will reach out to you to identify your areas of interest and how to make pro bono service a simple and fulfilling opportunity for you. Registering on JusticeServer also allows you to accept and work cases directly through the portal, as well as receive updates on pro bono opportunities, and it also begins your malpractice coverage.

If you have any questions, both programs invite you to reach out! Please contact Lisa Bennett, CVLAS’s Director of Pro Bono & Triage Programs, at lisa@cvlas.org or Shane Harper, GRBF’s Director of Administration and Programs, at admin@grbf.org.

Pro bono service is an incredible opportunity to give back to your community and make a life-changing difference for a client. Combined with GRBF’s resources and support to help you navigate a pro bono case like a pro, the opportunity you were looking for is right here!