The 4th Circuit is in need of support from local bankruptcy attorneys and attorneys interested in learning bankruptcy practice.
Jacksonville Area Legal Aid and Three Rivers Legal Services are collaborating with the Jacksonville Bankruptcy Bar Association to respond to the bankruptcy needs of low-income people in Northeast Florida with the new 4th Circuit Pro Bono Bankruptcy Project.
The initiative provides attorneys with opportunities to volunteer by assisting in one or more of the following ways: by accepting a pro bono bankruptcy case and/or by signing up to participate in a new monthly advice resource for pro se filers.
Accept a pro bono bankruptcy case — experienced and inexperienced pro bono attorneys needed
For experienced bankruptcy attorneys, visit jaxlegalaid.org, click the "Cases in Need of Placement with Pro Bono Attorneys" link and look for bankruptcy cases. Attorneys are able to send an email from the specific case description on the website indicating their willingness to review the case further for possible acceptance.
In addition, the Bankruptcy Judicial Appointment Pro Bono Panel needs attorneys available to accept an occasional pro bono appointment initiated by a bankruptcy judge in Florida.
Judges throughout Florida maintain a list of attorneys willing to accept pro bono appointments from the bench. The 4th Circuit is underrepresented on this list. Bankruptcy attorneys should send an email to Kathy Para at [email protected] indicating willingness to be on the panel.
For attorneys who would like to learn bankruptcy law, Pro Bono Bankruptcy Practice Groups are now forming. Fifteen newly licensed attorneys or attorneys who would like to add bankruptcy to their practice areas may be part of the new groups. The groups will offer attorneys the chance to learn about bankruptcy law in a small group. Attorneys will have access to a bankruptcy software product, have the benefit of a "coach" or mentor and will accept at least two pro bono cases on which to work as he or she learns about bankruptcy practice.
Attorneys interested in being part of the new groups should send an email to Kathy Para at [email protected].
Advise pro se filers at reaffirmation hearings
Attorneys sign up to participate once a month or less at the new resource, Bankruptcy Guidance for Pro Se Filers. Jarrett McConnell and Ed Jackson have pioneered this new pro bono resource.
The pro bono attorney is available to answer questions at the courthouse before pro se filers appear before the judge.
Interested pro bono attorneys will volunteer to staff the guidance resource once a month as time permits. The time commitment for a particular day is about an hour.
This new resource will be offered in addition to the monthly Bankruptcy Group Information Clinic held at 5 p.m. the first Thursday of every month at JALA, 126 W. Adams St.
Attorneys who would like to be a pro bono attorney on the staffing rotation for the new bankruptcy guidance resource for pro se filers at the federal courthouse are asked to please send an email indicating their interest to Erica Shaffor at [email protected].
Pro bono involvement is always worth the time and effort because attorneys can network and gain valuable experience while providing invaluable services to our community's most vulnerable citizens.
If you have never participated in pro bono or if you would like to continue to strengthen your commitment to equal access to justice, please consider participating in one or more of the listed projects.
Together, the Jacksonville Bankruptcy Bar Association, JALA and Three Rivers provide support and helpful resources, including malpractice insurance coverage for pro bono cases.
Please direct questions and comments to Kathy Para, The Jacksonville Bar Association Pro Bono Committee chairwoman, at [email protected].