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- 2012 - December - 31st -

Pro Bono Spotlight: How to volunteer

by Kathy Para, The JBA Pro Bono Committee Chairwoman

(Note: By request, this is a reprint of the Dec. 24 Pro Bono Spotlight)

Imagine the impact we could make if every attorney took just one pro bono case a year. That single contribution could drastically reduce the enormous backlog of pro bono cases and significantly improve access to justice for all Florida residents.

Offer your legal expertise to one low-income client by contacting one of these legal services organizations:

Guardian ad Litem: When you volunteer with the Guardian ad Litem Program for the 4th Circuit, you become a voice for a child in dependency court. Other pro bono opportunities include assisting the program using your area of expertise in the fields of special education, probate, guardianship, appeals or immigration. Training is available. Contact Christine Meyer, Esq, supervising program attorney, at christine.meyer@gal.fl.gov, for more information on pro bono opportunities.

Jacksonville Area Legal Aid: Jacksonville Area Legal Aid is a midsize law firm specializing in providing civil legal assistance to low-income people. Requests for services are at critical levels. Pro bono attorneys are urgently needed to represent clients in a single legal matter. Attorneys specify practice areas and review cases prior to acceptance. Professional Liability insurance and CLE webinar support is provided. Review cases online at jaxlegalaid.org and click on "Cases in Need of Placement with Pro Bono Attorneys" or contact Kathy Para, Esq., at kathy.para@jaxlegalaid.org, for more information on training available and all pro bono opportunities. Cases posted on the website are from JALA, Three Rivers Legal Services and the Northeast Florida Medical Legal Partnership.

Missing Links: Family law attorneys and paralegals are needed to assist victims of domestic violence prepare pro se divorce documents. Missing Links meets once a month in the evening. For more information, contact co-founder, Marla Buchanan at MBuchanan@rtlaw.com for schedule and location details.

Northeast Florida Medical Legal Partnership (NFMLP): When a doctor, nurse, social worker or other member of a medical team suspects that an environmental, economic, social or educational legal issue may exist, that person makes a referral to the Northeast Florida Medical Legal Partnership for a legal diagnosis. The referrals come from clinics serving the low-income population. The partnership attorney interviews the referred patient and evaluates whether he or she could benefit from legal assistance or another community service. If legal assistance is recommended the case is placed with the partnership for pro bono placement. Pro bono attorneys receive case summaries and full case information before acceptance of the case. Pro bono attorney support includes training and professional liability insurance. For more information contact Kathy Para at kathy.para@jaxlegalaid.org.

Office of Public Defender: Pro bono attorneys are needed to serve as Special Assistant Public Defenders representing clients in misdemeanor cases in criminal court. Training and support is provided. Special assistants help a low-income client seek justice allowing staff attorneys more time to focus on the thousands of cases they already handle. For more information contact Cynthia Hunold, County Court Unit director, at cch@pd4duval.coj.net.

For more information on opportunities throughout the 4th Circuit, attorneys are encouraged to call Kathy Para, chairwoman of The JBA Pro Bono Committee, at kathy.para@jaxlegalaid.org, 356-8371 ext. 363.

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