Harrison Tweed Current Award Winner
The ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants
& The National Legal Aid and Defender Association
Congratulate the Winner of the 2015 Harrison Tweed Award!
The Birmingham Bar Association
The Birmingham Bar Association is honored for the successful efforts of its Birmingham Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program (BBVLP) to refine and reinvigorate its weekly Help Desks held at three area courthouses. Specifically, it streamlined its intake and leveraged technology to better assist clients by using new client database software that adheres to Legal Services Corporation guidelines, but eliminated a number of unnecessary questions. In the past year, more than 1800 clients were assisted through these Help Desks.
Each Help Desk is staffed by volunteer lawyers, who provide counsel and advice and also assist clients in completing legal forms. The BBVLP supports its volunteers by organizing a vast numbers of forms to ensure easy access by the pro bono lawyers staffing the Help Desks. In addition, the BBVLP has established a mentor program. As new volunteers join the program, they are placed with more experienced attorneys so that they can observe and learn before assisting clients of their own.
One of the keys to the success of the Help Desks has been the BBVLP’s collaboration with the courts and judges. Local judges often inform self-represented clients about the BBVLP’s services, and some local courts have special dockets specifically for the BBVLP’s clients.
When more complex cases are identified for which counsel and advice are not sufficient, the BBVLP staff identities a volunteer lawyer from its roster to assist the client with extended representation. This representation may include everything from filing an initial complaint to representation through final judgment.
Through its Courthouse Help Desks, the BBVLP has enabled hundreds of people living in poverty who are in need of legal counsel and advice to obtain it in a convenient location that is easily accessible by public transportation. It is a valuable service that would not be possible without the dedicated service of pro bono lawyers and the encouragement and support of the Birmingham Bar Association.
To view the award winning call for nomination submission of this bar association, click here.