Pro Bono Opportunities
The Volunteer Lawyer Project
The goal of the program is the recruit private, government, and corporate attorneys to donate their time by providing legal assistance to a low-income person.
What is Prairie State Legal Services?
Prairie State Legal Services, Inc. is a not-for-profit law firm that provides civil legal services at no fee to the poor, elderly, and people with disabilities.
Prairie State focuses on helping clients who have legal problems that affect their basic human needs—like housing, basic income, and safety. Some typical cases for us include preventing eviction or mortgage foreclosure, helping victims of domestic violence get orders of protection to help ensure their safety, and helping persons with disabilities get public benefits like medical assistance and Supplemental Security Income.
Who does Prairie State Legal Services Help?
Prairie State focuses on providing legal services to the most vulnerable groups in our society, including the poor, people with disabilities, and people age 60 and over. We screen clients to ensure that they are eligible for services and that their problems fall within Prairie State’s case priorities targeting basic human needs.
In the past year Prairie State has helped over 20,000 clients, benefiting 30,000+ adults and children. The legal aid rendered has dealt with issues such as family law, housing, protection from abuse and exploitation, and protection of social service benefits among many others.
Why donate your time?
You can invest in your community. Every hour spent doing legal aid work benefits many. Legal Aid enables low income people to work towards self sufficiency and that helps reduce the costs to our economy, legal system, and communities while raising a low income person’s ability to contribute to our economy and community in ways they were not able to before.
You can help bridge the gap between funding and need. With the current amount of funding Prairie State Legal Services can only help 1 out of every 25 people in need. By volunteering your time and taking a case you can help bridge that gap and change more people’s lives.
You can build your legal skills. Are you inexperienced in a particular type of law? Prairie State Legal Services can offer you training, mentoring by seasoned legal professionals, and support to help you gain useful experience litigating a type of case that you are unfamiliar with.
You will be protected and supported. All volunteer lawyers are covered under Prairie State Legal Service’s malpractice insurance for the case they volunteer for. If any problems should arise during the case there are skilled attorneys and volunteer coordinators on staff to assist you.
You have the time to donate. Most pro bono cases are very simple and require less than 10 hours of a lawyer's time. All lawyers are busy and are often consumed with filling their billable hours. However, studies show that the busiest lawyers that bill the most hours also do the most pro bono work! There are many ways to integrate pro bono work into your practice and doing so is the gateway to success as a legal professional.
Given the huge benefit that you can provide to your potential clients and community and the joy that you can receive yourself, with the minimal time commitment, the question becomes: how can you afford not to volunteer?