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As the Pro Bono Coordinator for the Vermont Bar Association, I have the rewarding task of promoting pro bono service among our colleagues.  Rule 6.1 of the Vermont Rules of Professional Conduct exhorts each of us to devote at least 50 hours of our professional time each year to the representation of indigent or low income clients.  While it is a struggle to build pro bono time into a busy practice, the rewards personally and to our system of justice are well worth the effort.    

 

I urge you to volunteer with one or more of these established programs:

Vermont Volunteer Lawyer Project has been in existence for over 25 years.  It matches volunteer attorneys with low-income clients in every county in Vermont.  To sign up or to request more information, contact Angele Court, VVLP Coordinator, at 800-639-8857 X 118, or e-mail her at acourt@lawlinevt.org. 

Bennington County Legal Assistance Project is a low-bono project providing a small stipend for attorneys representing low income clients in foreclosure, collections and landlord/tenant cases in Bennington County. Training videos/DVDs are available.  For more information, contact me at the VBA at 223-2020, or email me at mashcroft@vtbar.org 

Caledonia County Legal Clinicis offered one Friday afternoon each month at the Courthouse in St. Johnsbury.  Attorney volunteers are needed to visit with clients on a variety of issues for 20 minutes each.  For more information or to volunteer, call the court at 748-6600. 

Chittenden County Small Claims Clinic is held on the first Tuesday of each month in the District and Family Court building on Cherry Street in Burlington.  Attorneys who volunteer meet with clients to review their case and prepare them for the upcoming hearing. We do not provide legal advice. To volunteer or receive more information, contact Jeffrey Messina, Esq. at jmessina@bpflegal.com; or Ed Fitzpatrick, Esq. at efitzpatrick@bpflegal.com of Bergeron, Paradis & Fitzpatrick, LLP or call 879-6304 to speak with Jeff or Ed.

Environmental Court Pro Bono Project links attorneys with an interest and/or experience in environmental law with low income clients in Vermont Environmental Court.  For more information, please contact me at the above number, of email me at mashcroft@vtbar.org. 

Lamoille County Legal Clinic is held on the 4th Wednesday of the month at the Courthouse in Hyde Park.  Volunteer lawyers meet with pro se litigants in brief advice sessions.  To volunteer for this clinic, contact Mark Kolter, Esq., at 253-7165 or at mkolter@dstkwlaw.com. 

Military Family Law Project assists deploying Vermont service members and their families in family law issues in Vermont courts.  A free training video is available from the VBA.  For more information, or to volunteer, call me at the VBA at 223-2020 or email me at mashcroft@vtbar.org. 

Rutland Pilot Project links Rutland County attorneys with low income clients in foreclosures, evictions and collections cases in the civil division of Vermont Superior Court,  in involuntary guardianships in probate division, and child support contempt matters in family division.  Participating attorneys are paid a reduced fee with grant funds from the Vermont Bar Foundation, and receive CLE credits by viewing training videos.  For more information, contact me at the VBA at 223-2020, or e-mail me at mashcroft@vtbar.org. 

St. Johnsbury Community Justice Center offers a free monthly evening legal clinic, and is looking for volunteer attorneys.  Each attorney spends about 30 minutes per client, and works from 6-8PM.  For more information or to volunteer, call Dinah Yessne at (802) 748-2977, or e-mail her at dinah@stjcjc.org. 

Washington County Legal Clinic operates two Friday afternoons a month at the Washington Family Court in Barre.  Volunteer attorneys see 3-6 clients for 15 minute consultations each.   Although the clinic is in Family Court, clients with all types of legal questions are served.  For more information or to volunteer, please call Linda Wright at the Family Court at 479-4205. 

Windsor Family Clinic is held two Friday afternoon of each month at the Windsor Family Courthouse in White River Junction.  Each volunteer attorney is assigned 2 clients for a half hour session each.  For more information about the clinic, or to volunteer, please call Case Manager Charles Hacker at (802) 295-8865. 

The Vermont Bar Foundation has recently funded new low bono projects in Windham, Windsor and Orange County.  Check with your county bar president about upcoming trainings, and sign up for these projects. 

 

Pro bono opportunities exist in every county in Vermont.  Consider volunteering in your local probate or family division, where the pro bono need is especially great.  Contact mashcroft@vtbar.org with ideas about your own pro bono project.

 

Thank you for volunteering.  Mary Ashcroft, Pro Bono Coordinator.