Across the country, lawyers are celebrating National Pro Bono Week (Oct. 20 – 26). Please join the VLP—your bridge between local low-income clients and the private bar—in recognizing the great work of the Southwest Ohio legal community AND the important work that remains ahead.
Celebrate – Every day, local lawyers are doing meaningful pro bono work. In 2018, volunteer lawyers handled 2,164 VLP cases! Recently, attorney Jennifer Gatherwright represented a single mother who was at risk of having her wages collected for an alleged IRS tax debt. Jennifer sorted through a challenging set of facts and helped the client file a Tax Court petition for one year and file for relief s an innocent spouse for another year. As Jennifer explained, “The IRS innocent spouse program is extremely important for low-income divorced working mothers like [this client] because these women are often eligible for large refunds due to the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit.” Jennifer helped the client prevail in both the Tax Court petition and the request for relief, meaning she no longer owes anything to the IRS. In another VLP case, attorney Susan Schreiber, a former Volunteer Lawyer of the Year, represented a survivor of domestic violence in her divorce. Throughout the divorce and related custody proceedings, Susan prioritized her client’s personal safety and the safety of her client’s child. Susan helped guide this working mother and her young child through a tumultuous time. By the end, Susan had helped the client finalize her divorce and maintain custody of her child.
Step Up – National Pro Bono Week highlights what the ABA Model Rules say is every lawyer’s “professional responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay.”
Here are some ways lawyers can answer the call of National Pro Bono Week:
- Register as a volunteer with the VLP! Sign-up on the VLP website
- Invite a friend to volunteer! Send the VLP registration link to a friend and share a good experience you had working on a VLP case
- Take a case! VLP asks its volunteers to take at least 2 cases/year, but there are always more clients waiting for help – Email Elizabeth Zak, VLP Managing Attorney, at email@example.com
- Give some advice! Sign-up for a shift at an upcoming brief advice clinic – Email Elizabeth Zak, VLP Managing Attorney, at firstname.lastname@example.org