HOW THE VLP SUPPORTS ITS VOLUNTEERS
Financial Support for Volunteers
Attorney Fees: While the VLP expects you to represent VLP clients on a pro bono or “reduced fee” basis, there are two exceptions:
- A volunteer attorney may collect a fee from the opposing party. If the attorney believes fees are collectable, the attorney and client should enter into a separate representation agreement covering those fees.
- If a volunteer attorney wishes to accept a VLP referral on a contingency basis, the volunteer must notify the VLP. The volunteer attorney and client then enter into a private representation agreement and VLP will close the referral. The volunteer cannot receive VLP reimbursement for expenses nor be covered by the VLP Legal Malpractice Policy.
Reduced Fees: Upon request, the VLP will pay a reduced fee to an active The volunteer may not charge the client; the reduced fee is paid by the VLP. The VLP’s reduced fee rates vary by type of legal matter. Click here to see the reduced fee schedule. To receive your first reduced fee payment, email a W-9 form to the VLP Managing Attorney. Please note, you cannot receive CLE credit for a “reduced fee” case.
Reimbursement for Court Costs and Litigation Expenses
Court Costs and Filing Fees: In most cases, VLP clients are eligible for waiver of court costs, including filing fees. Clients with income at/below 187.5% of the Federal Poverty Level and expenses at/above their income are eligible for Ohio’s mandatory court costs waiver, per R.C. 2323.311(B)(4). To calculate a client’s FPL, visit https://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty-guidelines. To secure a mandatory court costs waiver, file an Affidavit of Indigency. The VLP has samples available. If the Court denies a mandatory waiver, please contact the VLP immediately.
Clients who do not meet the criteria for a mandatory court costs waiver may receive a discretionary waiver. To request a discretionary court costs waiver, file a Fee Waiver/Affidavit of Indigency and Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis.
If the Court denies a discretionary waiver, advise the client of his/her responsibility for costs. If the client cannot pay court costs, contact the VLP. The VLP may pay, subject to possible repayment by the client. Note: The VLP does not ordinarily pay fees to initiate administrative proceedings.
Litigation Expenses: If the client does not have the ability to pay litigation expenses, the VLP may reimburse or advance those expenses on the client’s behalf. Covered expenses may include, subject to prior approval by VLP, deposition or transcript costs, expert fees, and investigations or reports.
Prior to incurring an expense for which you will seek reimbursement, contact the VLP team. The VLP must approve all expenses. Once the VLP approves an expense, you may direct your payment request us. Payment requests must include an itemization of expenses and receipts for any bills already paid.
If a client receives a money award as the result of the VLP case, the client is expected to repay expenses incurred during his/her case. Again, please contact the VLP team in situations where the VLP should consider an exception.
Professional Support for Volunteers
- CLE Credit: Volunteers may receive CLE credit for pro bono Click here for details on earning and requesting credit. To receive credit, you must submit a record of time to the VLP. You cannot receive CLE credit for a “reduced fee” case.
- Meeting Space: Volunteers may contact the VLP to reserve Legal Aid conference rooms to meet with their clients.
- Malpractice Insurance: The VLP’s Legal Malpractice Policy covers all volunteers while they work on a case referred by the VLP. If you completed a case and wish to perform additional work for the same client, please notify VLP. We can assign the additional work to you. Otherwise, our policy will not cover your subsequent work for that client.
- Subject Matter Support: In most cases, the VLP can connect you to an experienced Legal Aid attorney with expertise in the area of law at issue. Please contact the VLP or the Legal Aid attorney for substantive back up support.
- Training: The VLP offers periodic training to volunteers and an annual CLE which is free for our active volunteers.
Volunteer Lawyers for the Poor Foundation