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Jax Daily Record Monday, Jan. 5, 201512:00 PM EST

Pro bono spotlight: Let 2015 be the year you volunteer time

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by: Kathy Para

Imagine the impact we could make if every attorney took just one pro bono case a year. That single contribution could 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 Judicial Circuit, you become a voice for a child in dependency court.

Other pro bono opportunities with the program include assisting by using your area of expertise, including special education, probate, guardianship, appeals or immigration. Training is available.

Contact Christine Meyer, supervising program attorney, at [email protected] for more information.

Jacksonville Area Legal Aid and Three Rivers Legal Services

Jacksonville Area Legal Aid is a mid-sized law firm established in 1935 by The Jacksonville Bar Association, which specializes in providing civil legal assistance to low-income people.

Three Rivers Legal Services has its headquarters in Gainesville and also provides civil legal assistance to low-income people in Northeast Florida through its Jacksonville office.

Requests for services are at critical levels.

Pro bono attorneys are urgently needed to represent clients in a single legal matter and to

assist with group information clinics and one-day events. Attorneys can specify the practice areas in which they will assist and review cases prior to acceptance.

Professional liability insurance and CLE webinar support are provided. Review cases online at jaxlegalaid.org and click on “Cases in Need of Placement With Pro Bono Attorneys” or contact Kathy Para at [email protected] for information on training available and all civil pro bono opportunities.

Clinics and outreach opportunities are organized and implemented through collaboration of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, Three Rivers Legal Services, The Jacksonville Bar Association, Florida Coastal School of Law and other voluntary Bar associations and community agencies. Cases posted on the website are from JALA, Three Rivers and the Northeast Florida Medical Legal Partnership.

Civil judicial appointment panels

The Jacksonville Bar Association is serving as the point of contact for dependency court and civil circuit court appointments of pro bono attorneys.

Attorneys interested in assisting a child in a dependency matter and receiving pro bono appointments from the dependency bench, are encouraged to contact Nikki Hawkins at [email protected].

Attorneys interested in helping an indigent client in a civil matter and receiving pro bono appointments from the civil bench are encouraged to contact Para, specifying they would like to be part of the Civil Judicial Appointment Pro Bono Panel, at [email protected].

Missing Link Inc.

Family law attorneys and paralegals are needed to assist victims of domestic violence with preparing pro se divorce documents.

Missing Link meets one evening each month. For more information contact Dana Welker for schedule and location details at [email protected].

Northeast Florida Medical Legal Partnership

When a doctor, nurse, social worker or other member of a medical team suspects an environmental, economic, social or educational legal issue may exist, that person makes a referral to the partnership for a legal diagnosis.

The referrals come from various clinics serving the low-income population. The attorney interviews the referred patient and evaluates whether he/she could benefit from legal assistance or another community service.

If legal assistance is recommended, the case is sent with the partnership for pro bono placement. Pro bono attorneys receive case summaries and full case information prior to acceptance of the case.

Pro bono attorney support includes training and professional liability insurance. For more information, contact Para at [email protected].

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 assistant public defenders 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 Kate Bedell at [email protected].

For more information on opportunities throughout the 4th Judicial Circuit, attorneys are encouraged to contact Para at [email protected] or (904) 356-8371, ext. 363.

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