The Volunteer Lawyers Project is committed to utilizing its resources to support its mission of securing legal representation for low-income clients who cannot otherwise obtain counsel, but funds for costs and expenses are limited. In most cases, VLP clients are eligible for waiver of court costs, including filing fees. A request for a Fee Waiver and Poverty Affidavit should be filed, when appropriate. Samples are available from the VLP here.
The VLP may advance payment of costs and/or other necessary litigation expenses. In all cases, the Volunteer Attorney should determine the client’s ability to pay costs, and advise the client of his or her responsibility for costs if the client is able to pay. The VLP may pay filing fees to initiate a court case, subject to possible repayment by the client. The VLP does not ordinarily pay fees to initiate administrative (e.g. visa) proceedings.
If the client does not have the ability to pay costs or other litigation expenses, the VLP may pay or advance those expenses on the client’s behalf. Covered expenses can include:
- Costs for adoption or custody investigations. The VLP has arrangements for reduced charges for these investigations, so please contact the VLP prior to contracting for this work;
- Medical reports or examinations;
- Expert fees (requires advance approval from the VLP Managing Attorney);
- Reasonable deposition costs;
- Litigation filing fees;
- Costs for filing reasonable and necessary counter-claims;
- Court costs;
- Other reasonable out-of-pocket expenses, not to include office overhead costs.
Once the Volunteer Attorney determines that the costs cannot be waived or paid by the client, a request for payment, providing details, should be sent to VLP Managing Attorney Anne Lucas.
Questions about the reasonableness of a cost or expense can be discussed with Managing Attorney Anne Lucas prior to expending the money.
In situations in which the client receives money as the result of successful representation, the client is expected to repay costs and expenses expended on the client’s behalf.