FAQ

What is Pro Bono?

The phrase comes from the Latin “pro bono publico,” which translates to “for the public good.” Pro bono is most often associated with legal work but can be used for any skilled volunteer work.

What cases does the VLP take?

The VLP accepts cases involving civil legal matters. For a complete listing, go to the Services page.

How do I apply?

Applications are taken over the phone. The VLP staff is available Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to take your application and discuss the specifics of your legal matter.

How is the VLP funded?

The VLP is funded by Interest On Lawyer Trust Account (IOLTA), Civil Legal Aid, local grants and donations. The program is not subsidized by federal or state tax dollars. There is never a charge for attorney services; however, some programs have a minimal administrative fee.

Clients are required to pay the court filing fee in bankruptcy cases.

Who qualifies for VLP services?

Generally, your household income must be at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines. You will need to account for income and/or benefits received for all people living in your home regardless of the relationship. Other assets that can be considered for eligibility include checking, savings, 401 (k), annuity, pension or trust accounts.

The VLP may at any time request proof of income, bank account balances or other supporting documentation before providing any services.

Other factors that may influence your eligibility for services are type of legal matter, county where the case is filed or legal merit as determined by an attorney.

Eligibility for the VLP program does not guarantee that your case will be placed with an attorney for
representation. Our ability to place cases is sometimes limited by the availability of volunteers. The VLP is not obligated to place all eligible cases.

Why won't staff answer my legal questions?

The VLP staff members are not attorneys. We are a legal referral service. All the attorneys who donate their time and talents through the VLP are in private practice. Therefore the VLP staff cannot comment on the merits of your case or provide you with your legal options. Depending on the type of legal matter, you may be referred to an attorney for legal advice. Additionally, on Tuesday evenings, you may call the Legal Line to speak with an attorney for a brief consultation.

How long does the VLP process take?

If you have all the necessary information when you call the VLP to apply for services, we can let you know if you are eligible during that call. If we determine that we can place you in one of our programs, we will mail you a client agreement which outlines your responsibilities. Once you return the signed client agreement and any other documentation requested, you will be placed on a waiting list. Depending on the type of matter, the wait can be up to six months.

If you have an emergency, a court hearing or a deadline in 30 days or less, the VLP will not be able to help you.

What happens when my case is referred to an attorney?

If an attorney agrees to consider your matter, the VLP will send you a letter with the attorney’s name and contact information. You must contact the volunteer attorney within 10 days of receiving the letter and identify yourself as a VLP client. If you fail to contact the attorney in a timely manner, your case will be closed.​

Referral to an attorney does not mean that you have been accepted as a client. If the attorney determines that he or she cannot continue with your matter after reviewing all the facts, or that your matter lacks merit, he or she may refer you back to the VLP or close your matter and report the reason to the VLP. If an attorney states your matter lacks merit, you will not be referred to another attorney. If an attorney withdraws for other reasons, the VLP will make every effort to find you another attorney.