Volunteer Opportunities

Do you want to volunteer to provide pro bono legal assistance? No matter your practice or practice setting, there are opportunities for you. Through the resources linked below, you will find the program, the case, the issue, the client and the location best suited for your needs and interests.

General Opportunities

No matter where you live or work, there is a pro bono program that will be of interest to you and that needs your help. Visit The National Pro Bono Volunteer Opportunities Guide.

  • Your state or local bar association has a pro bono committee or program that needs your assistance, and you can find more by clicking here
  • There are legal aid and legal services providers in your community that have pro bono and other programs that will be of interest to you and enable you to serve the poor in your community. 
  • The American Bar Association supports a plethora of pro bono programs.
  • The American Bar Association's Volunteer Legal Project ("VLP") was created in 1986 to assist the ABA's lawyer staff in fulfilling their professional obligation to perform pro bono service. Over the years, lawyers have provided legal services to numerous indigent clients in matters involving bankruptcy, divorce, custody, adoptions, guardianships, public benefits, wills and other matters. If you are a lawyer employed by the ABA and wish to participate in this program, email Marissa LaVette.
  • If you are a paralegal, or if you know a paralegal, who wants to volunteer to do pro bono, read this information about pro bono participation. 

Targeted Client Populations

  • The ABA’s Immigrant Child Advocacy Network (ICAN) connects pro bono attorneys with the tens of thousands of unaccompanied immigrant minor children in America who are scheduled for legal proceedings and have no right to appointed counsel or other adult representing the child’s interests.  Without legal help, these children are unsuccessful in pressing their rights in over 90% of cases; with the help of a lawyer, these children prevail most of the time. 
  • People, businesses and organizations affected by hurricanes and other disasters need legal assistance. You can help by volunteering here.
  • The Military Pro Bono Project, unlike legal service programs that assist veterans, is uniquely focused on provision of pro bono services to active-duty service members, many of whom remain deployed to areas of conflict.

International Opportunities

  • The ABA Justice Defenders Program
    pro bono legal assistance (remote legal work, in country litigation and strategic advice, trial observation missions) to human rights defenders and lawyers anywhere in the world who are subject to retaliation for their human rights advocacy and/or having problems undertaking human rights litigation.
  • The ABA-UNDP International Legal Resource Center (ILRC) was created in 1999 to enhance access to legal expertise for technical assistance and other development projects. The ILRC 1) identifies legal specialists for short- and long-term assignments implemented under the purview of UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) worldwide; 2) conducts legal research and analysis on a wide variety of topics; 3) facilitates the review of domestic legislation vis-à-vis international standards and best practices; 4) serves as a repository for legal information; and 5) provides other services upon request. The ability of the ILRC to draw upon pro bono contributions from legal specialists helps reduce the overall cost of technical assistance projects.
  • Advocates for International Development (A4ID) works with development organisations and developing countries to facilitate the provision of pro bono legal advice and assistance from leading lawyers, law firms and chambers in the areas of international trade, debt and development.
  • The Center for Justice & Accountability (CJA) is an international human rights organization dedicated to ending torture and other severe human rights abuses around the world and advancing the rights of survivors to seek truth, justice and redress.
  • The Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice works with NGOs, universities, bar associations and law firms to support access to justice.
  • Human Rights Internet (HRI) is dedicated to the empowerment of human rights activists and organizations, and to the education of governmental and intergovernmental agencies and officials and other actors in the public and private sphere, on human rights issues and the role of civil society.
  • The International Bar Association Pro Bono web site is intended to act as a communications tool for pro bono practitioners all over the world and to enhance pro bono matters internationally.
  • International Federation of Family Associations of Missing Persons from Armed Conflicts (IFFAMPAC) is dedicated to helping families around the world whose family members have gone missing due to armed conflict.
  • The International Senior Lawyers Project provides volunteer legal services by highly skilled and experienced attorneys to advance democracy and the rule of law, protect human rights and promote equitable economic development worldwide. Through the pro bono work of retired and active practitioners, ISLP helps governments and citizens develop and implement legal reforms, assists programs that advance the social and economic well-being of people in developing countries, and builds the capacity of local organizations and professionals to meet the needs of their communities.
  • LawWorks is the operating name of the Solicitors Pro Bono Group (SPBG)(United Kingdom) a small, national charity whose aim is to enable and encourage lawyers to provide free legal help to individuals and community groups in need.
  • Lawyers Without Borders
    Organization of volunteer lawyers committed to pro bono work for Rule of Law initiatives, Human Rights work and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). For more information, view an interview with Christina M. Storm, Founder and Director of Lawyers Without Borders, Inc. and Attorney Jerry Shestack, trial attorney and world leader in the international human rights movement on pro bono volunteer work in the international arena.
  • The Mental Disability Advocacy Center (MDAC) Mental Disability Advocacy Center (MDAC) is an international non-governmental organization based in Budapest that promotes and protects the human rights of people with mental health problems and intellectual disabilities across central and eastern Europe and central Asia. MDAC works to improve the quality of life for people with mental disabilities through litigation, research and international advocacy. MDAC has participatory status at the Council of Europe and is a cooperating organization of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights
  • New Tactics in Human Rights advances human rights internationally.
  • The National Pro Bono Centre site is designed to develop a virtual community of those involved in pro bono work in the United Kingdom.
  • PSJD, NALP's Public Service Law Network Worldwide, is a network of 150 law schools and more than 12,000 law-related public interest organizations in the US and around the world. Through its online database, PSJD provides a comprehensive clearinghouse of public interest organizations and opportunities for lawyers and law students. Users can perform customized searches of public interest opportunities around the world, ranging from short-term volunteer and paid internships to full-time jobs, fellowships and pro bono opportunities.
  • The Rule of Law Resource Center is a community resource provided by LexisNexis as a pro bono initiative for attorneys working on Rule of Law or Human Rights issues.
  • Thomson Reuters Foundation TrustLaw currently has a focus on good governance and fighting corruption. Through its TrustLaw Connect resource attorneys and law firms can find NGOs and other entities with international legal needs.

Reentry Projects 

Speaking at the ABA’s Annual Conference on August 12 2013, Attorney General Eric Holder urged pro bono efforts to address the indigent defense crisis, including reentry assistance for those who have served their time.

"And every legal professional, every member of this audience, must answer the ABA’s call to contribute to this cause through pro bono service – and help realize the promise of equal justice for all."

To learn more about how civil legal aid contributes to successful reentry for people leaving jail and returning to society, and federal programs that support legal services for people with criminal records, the U.S. Department of Justice has prepared this document.

List of Reentry Projects for Pro Bono Volunteers

The Attorney General also referred to an ABA Project related to collateral consquences.

 "In recent years, with the Department’s support, the ABA has catalogued tens of thousands of statutes and regulations that impose unwise and counterproductive collateral consequences – with regard to housing or employment, for example – on people who have been convicted of crimes. I have asked state attorneys general and a variety of federal leaders to review their own agencies’ regulations. And today I can announce that I’ve directed all Department of Justice components, going forward, to consider whether any proposed regulation or guidance may impose unnecessary collateral consequences on those seeking to rejoin their communities."

 

Online Volunteering

  • ABA Free Legal Answers is a virtual legal advice clinic. Qualifying users post their civil legal question to their state's website. Users will then be emailed when their question receives a response. Attorney volunteers, who must be authorized to provide pro bono assistance in their state, log in to the website, select questions to answer, and provide legal information and advice. Volunteer attorneys do not answer criminal law questions.
  • The ABA Military Pro Bono Project accepts case referrals from military attorneys on behalf of junior-enlisted, active-duty military personnel facing civil legal issues, and it places these cases with pro bono attorneys where the legal assistance is needed. The Project is also the platform for Operation Stand-By, through which military attorneys may seek attorney-to-attorney guidance.
  • The ABA Immigrant Child Advocacy Network (ICAN) connects pro bono attorneys with the tens of thousands of unaccompanied immigrant minor children in America who are scheduled for legal proceedings and have no right to appointed counsel or other adult representing the child’s interests.  Without legal help, these children are unsuccessful in pressing their rights in over 90% of cases; with the help of a lawyer, these children prevail most of the time.
  • Florida Pro Bono Matters allows lawyers to search through available pro bono matters. When you find the right volunteer opportunity, fill in your information and hit submit. The posting organization will then contact you with more information.

Educational Videos for Volunteer Attorneys

Breaking Poverty Barriers to Equal Justice is a training video for pro bono attorneys, provided by the Lindquist law firm.

For more information on volunteer opportunities, please email the Center for Pro Bono. 

State by State Listings for Volunteer Opportunities