Volunteer attorneys with Volunteer Lawyers Program of Southern Arizona Legal Aid, Inc. provide pro bono legal advice and assistance to eligible clients, directly providing access to justice for people who cannot otherwise reach a lawyer, legal advice, or legal assistance. Nearly all of our clients are qualified by income or special vulnerabilities. They often have difficulty obtaining help from a lawyer as a result.
VLP takes an “empowerment” approach of “helping clients help themselves.” Volunteers assist clients to navigate, with the volunteer’s expert assistance, through their own legal matters. This approach builds confidence and competence in self-represented litigants, affords them justice, and can make the court processes smoother. So many southern Arizonans represent themselves in court. Together, we can help them do that more effectively and successfully.
Overview: VLP is currently offering nearly all of its regular programs and clinics, having successfully pivoted to online, remote, and virtual delivery of legal services in 2020. Volunteers now serve clients in 14 clinics and programs in four major areas of the law, and can accept clients for full or limited scope representation in many more areas of the law. VLP staff can “host” every virtual advice session and class, allowing the volunteer simply to log in and advise the client, without worrying about technology, troubleshooting, or glitches. SALA covers your malpractice insurance, reimburses certain costs, and provides training and mentors. Your pro bono hours can count towards Arizona CLE hours. Time commitments vary depending on the volunteer’s availability. All scheduling is done online. Law student interns, undergraduate interns, and paralegal student interns round out the “team” assisting the volunteer attorney. Experienced volunteer attorneys are available to mentor and train new volunteers.
Family Law Clinics & Classes: Family law is our busiest area, with four different classes monthly and multiple individual advice clinics weekly. Volunteers can teach Divorce with Children, Divorce without Children, Paternity, or Divorce in Spanish. Volunteer attorneys then advise clients in 1:1 family law English or Spanish clinics, where clients can return on an unlimited basis to work through their own family law cases and questions with the attorney on hand. VLP also serves the Pima County Superior Court Law Library, where our volunteer attorneys advise referred clients virtually in 1:1 clinics in the Family Law Self Service Center two days a week. Annually, hundreds of self represented family law litigants resolve their family law matters through our VLP programs.
Guardianship Clinics & Classes: Volunteers teach a monthly class on minor guardianship in collaboration with our nonprofit community partner, KARE. Volunteers also then advise clients in 1:1 clinics on how to obtain a guardianship. Clients are adults (often grandparents and other kinship providers) caring for a minor for whom they do not have legal rights and needing a formal guardianship for school registration and other important purposes. We also have a regular advice-only adult guardianship clinic for clients and volunteer attorneys.
Bankruptcy Court Project: Each month, volunteer attorneys advise clients referred to VLP by the Federal Bankruptcy Court in Tucson on the advisability of debt reaffirmation and then appear in court to assist clients to reaffirm their debts, if appropriate. Student interns usually assist the volunteer attorneys in this project.
Bankruptcy Advice/Debt Relief: Volunteer attorneys advise clients individually in an advice-only session on the advisability of bankruptcy and how to respond to their concerns about looming debts or collection matters. This clinic is scheduled monthly. Volunteers always have the option of representing a client after the clinic, in a limited or full scope capacity.
Employment Law: Volunteer attorneys advise clients individually in an advice-only session regarding their rights and questions about wrongful termination, employment discrimination, wage and hour claims, job safety claims, and more. This clinic is held twice per month. An employment law overview class is available for clients to take before meeting with the volunteer attorney.
Direct Referrals: Volunteer attorneys can agree to represent clients in many areas of the law, including property disputes, contract disputes, immigration, wills, consumer protection, guardianships for vulnerable adults, and debt advice, in a limited scope or full representation capacity. VLP/SALA provides the retainer agreement and standard referral forms, and supports the client/lawyer relationship as needed. VLP can also provide you with help and consultation from other volunteer attorneys in these cases, if desired.
Rural Clients: VLP/SALA serves nine counties in Southern Arizona including 11 tribal communities. Now that almost all of our services are remote, VLP can serve nearly any rural client in its classes, clinics, and direct referrals to attorneys. Volunteer attorneys can choose to focus their efforts in rural areas or with clients outside of Tucson as a result. More outreach work in rural areas is always welcome.
To volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Susan Daicoff at 520-623-9465×4171, or visit our website at https://www.sazlegalaid.org/volunteer/ and complete the volunteer form.
Thank you for your willingness to help! Let us know if we can answer any questions or assist you in any way.
–Susan Daicoff, Director, Volunteer Lawyers Program Director
For questions or comments about this blog, please contact us at: Connections@sazlegalaid.org