Pro Bono: Make 2019 your year to volunteer; service needed in all areas

Help to improve justice for the most vulnerable Northeast Florida residents.

  • By
  • | 5:10 a.m. January 3, 2019
Kathy Para
Kathy Para
  • The Bar Bulletin
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By Kathy Para, JBA Pro Bono Committee Chair

Imagine the impact we could make if every attorney took just one pro bono case a year and volunteered for one clinic. Those simple contributions could significantly improve access to justice for the most vulnerable Northeast Florida residents.

You can offer your legal expertise by contacting 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 include assisting using your area of expertise such as special education, probate, guardianship, appeals or immigration.

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 law firm established in 1935 by the Jacksonville Bar Association that specializes in providing civil legal assistance to low-income residents.

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

Requests for services are at critical levels. Volunteer 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 educational webinar support are provided.

Review cases online at by typing your county in the general search line.

When you read through the summaries, find a case you’d like to consider and click “Interested?” You’ll be sending an email to a case placement manager who will provide additional information.

Cases posted are from JALA, TRLS, the Northeast Florida Medical Legal Partnership and the Veterans Legal Collaborative.

Clinics and outreach opportunities are organized and implemented through collaboration of JALA, TRLS, the JBA, Florida Coastal School of Law and other voluntary Bar associations and community agencies.

Opportunities include events such as Advance Directives for Seniors, Citizenship Day, Lawyers in Libraries, Ask-A-Lawyer, Guardian Advocacy Pro Bono Project, Brief Counsel and Advice at the VA Clinic and family law group information clinics in Clay, Duval and Nassau counties.

Contact [email protected] for more information about available training and civil pro bono opportunities. 

Judicial appointment panels

The JBA is the point of contact for dependency court and civil circuit court appointment of pro bono attorneys.

Attorneys interested in assisting a child in a dependency matter and receiving pro bono appointment from the dependency bench may contact Nikki Hawkins at [email protected].

Attorneys interested in assisting an indigent client in a civil matter and receiving pro bono appointments from the civil bench are encouraged to contact kathy.para@

Missing Link Inc.

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

Contact Cindy Houston 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 that an environmental, economic, social or educational legal issue may exist, that person can make a referral to NFMLP for a legal diagnosis.

A staff attorney interviews the patient and evaluates whether he or she could benefit from legal assistance or another community service.

If legal assistance is recommended, the next step is pro bono placement. Volunteer attorneys receive case summaries and full case information prior to acceptance of the case.

Support includes training and professional liability insurance.

For more information, contact [email protected].

Office of Public Defender

Attorneys are needed to volunteer as special assistant public defenders representing clients in misdemeanor cases in criminal court. Training and support is provided.

Volunteers help a low-income client seek justice, allowing staff attorneys more time to focus on the cases they already handle.

For more information, contact Gary Beard at [email protected].

For information about volunteer opportunities in the 4th Judicial Circuit, contact [email protected] or call (904) 356-8371, ext. 363.