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How do I get involved in the Westmoreland County Pro Bono Program?
Contact the Pro Bono coordinator (724-837-5539) or the Westmoreland Bar Association (724-834-6730)
What areas of law are available under the Pro Bono Program?
Family, Protection from Abuse, Debtor/Creditor, Bankruptcy, Landlord/Tenant, Tort Defense, Unemployment Compensation, License Suspension and Wills
How many times will I be called during the year?
You will be contacted at least two times a year.
When will I get identifying information about the client in order to complete a conflicts check with my firm or my office?
Before you decide to take the case you will be given the client's identifying information.
Are attorneys expected to appeal a case if the case is not won?
No. You have the right to limit the scope of your representation and not to take an appeal. However, you should be very clear with your client as to the scope of your planned representation, building into your retainer agreement language that describes what would happen should an appeal be necessary.
What about malpractice insurance?
You are covered by malpractice insurance on Pro Bono cases.
What about custody cases? I don’t want a case for 18 years.
The Pro Bono program does not handle custody issues; we have a separate custody program.
I am just starting my practice and would like to help; are there cases I could get paid for?
We provide services through two other programs, the PAI program and the reduced fee program. Currently the PAI program pays you $50.00/hour and the reduced fee program allows you to bill the client at the rate of $40.00/hr. You must register for each of these programs.
Who pays the court costs for Pro Bono cases?
The client is responsible for paying any court costs involved in the case.
Can I handle the Pro Bono cases from my office or do I have to go to the Pro Bono office?
Sometimes attorneys will have the initial consultation in the Pro Bono office, but it is your choice to either come to Pro Bono or meet with the client in your office.
What are my responsibilities once I have accepted the case?
Once you have accepted the case you must treat this case as you would that of a paying client. You have the responsibility to meet with your client, attend all hearings, and make a sincere effort in your client’s case.
I am a judge. Is there anything I can do?
Yes. The judiciary plays an essential role in the delivery of pro bono services. Judges can help to set a tone within the legal community that pro bono is an expected and valuable contribution from members of the bar. Judges can assist in recruiting, training, and recognizing the achievements of volunteers. Judges can also be important partners in developing new programs by ensuring that scheduling and docketing are done in an efficient way that serves the needs of volunteers, clients, and the courts.
Clients sometimes fail to pay me. Can this be counted toward my Pro Bono participation?
Unfortunately, the only clients that can be counted must be screened first and then complete an intake interview through the Pro Bono office before finding an attorney.
I do plenty of work for organizations in my community. Can this be counted toward my Pro Bono participation?
Community service is always commendable, however, only clients referred from the Pro Bono office are counted in our database. These numbers are essential to the continuance of our program.
Can I get help from other attorneys?
Do I have to travel to other counties?
No. Our Pro Bono attorneys do not travel outside Westmoreland County.