Judges have helped to create their own programs to aid indigent parties in securing pro bono legal assistance.
U.S. District Judge Jim Zainey founded Project H.E.L.P. (the Homeless Experience Legal Project) in New Orleans to provide the homeless with free legal assistance. The program has expanded to over 15 U.S. cities.
Project H.E.L.P. sets up legal clinics in homeless shelters that are staffed by local law firms, practitioners, and law students. Activities include helping people apply for social security/disability benefits, maintaining certified copies of identification documents (since an individual will only be admitted to a homeless shelter with a proper ID), and other legal issues.
Ohio Chief Justice Thomas Moyer and U.S. District Judge Christopher Boyko worked to establish the Foreclosure Legal Assistance Group of Ohio (FLAG-Ohio).
Under the program, low-income homeowners who could not afford a lawyer contacted FLAG-Ohio to be screened for eligibility and obtain general information about the foreclosure process. Homeowners who met the income and other criteria were referred to the legal aid society in their region to be matched with an attorney. Participating lawyers received foreclosure-specific training.
Chief Justice Thomas Moyer wrote to all 37,000 lawyers in Ohio calling for more free legal help for Ohioans about to lose their homes. U.S. District Judge Christopher Boyko called the response "astounding." The most successful pro bono service in the country has involved the judiciary, keeping polite pressure on lawyers, he said.
Mid-Missouri Access to Justice Project
The Mid-Missouri Access to Justice Project, operated by the state court system, provided assistance to low-income individuals attempting to access the courts in civil matters in the 13th Judicial Circuit. Lawyers volunteered to perform a discrete task limited to a one day representation for clients.
Senior Partners for Justice
Founded by Edward M. Ginsburg, Associate Justice for the Masschusetts Probate and Family Court after his retirement from the bench. Senior Partners for Justice operates in cooperation with the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association. Senior Partners for Justice has attracted more than 1,000 lawyers since it began. Projects are located in various courthouses across Massachusetts. Lawyers volunteer to represent clients in consumer, family law, and guardianship cases.
Updated April 2020