Thursday, February 4, 2010

Why We Don't Do Much Pro Bono Work

We have been getting a lot of phone calls lately from people who found us on the web. Many of them have read our blogs. Unfortunately, we can't help everyone, but we do our best to refer out to good attorneys those cases that we can't help for various reasons. Sometimes the case may be outside Tarrant County or the subject matter may be something that we don't handle. Like most attorneys, we have developed a specific niche that we try to focus our work in, but we know many attorneys in this area and have created a long list of specialities and attorneys who handle them. We are pleased to give referrals that should benefit the clients and save them time.

One type of call that we have gotten a lot of lately is people asking if we do "Pro Bono" work. That's a Latin phrase (naturally -- we're lawyers) that is a shortened version that translates into "for the good of the public". The concept is that attorneys should try to provide free or low cost legal services to the truly needy.

Our position on Pro Bono is that we believe in it and we do handle such cases at no charge, but we don't take on cases as Pro Bono cases if the clients call us directly. We work with a number of organizations that contact us occasionally with a prospective client who has a legal need but lacks funds. Depending on our workload and whether we are handling other Pro Bono cases at the time, we decide whether to take on another no-attorney-fee case.

We cannot afford to work very many cases for free, so we carefully evaluate cases that are referred to us. We do not accept cases for Pro Bono if the prospective client contacts us directly and we cannot even take on every case referred to us by the organizations we work with. We do our best to help those in need, but we have expenses and need to pay bills just like everyone else. For those we can't assist, we hope the information from our web site and blogs will be helpful.

To summarize our Pro Bono policy: we believe in it, and we take referrals from a number of organizations, but we don't take on cases for no fees if the prospective client contacts us directly.

If you need an attorney, but cannot afford to pay for one, you can check with organizations where you live, you can contact different attorneys or check with your local bar association to try to find attorneys who will work Pro Bono. Most attorneys will take on some Pro Bono cases, but they have to limit that type of work since they still have to make a living. Sometimes court personnel can give you a lead on where to find help. As a last resort, there are more and more resources on line that you can turn to. Whatever you do, don't decide to do nothing. Keep talking with people and you will likely find something or someone to help you.

Revised on Feb. 28, 2010.

1 comment:

Claudia Rice said...

We work with a number of organizations

What organizations? I've been to Legal Aid, Texas Wesleyan, and 3 others. Though I qualify, no one has the staff to help me, or else I don't qualify simply because I'm not being abused. My ex-husband is suing for custody of our son. He has an attorney. I am desperate. So please tell me what organizations other than Legal Aid I can talk to.