Why volunteer?

Attorneys cite various reasons for their personal commitment to pro bono service. Attorneys do pro bono because they are committed to preserving the core principles of our justice system and they realize that unrepresented people often are not afforded the opportunity to fully realize these ideals. Attorneys alone have the privilege of legal training and responsibility to preserve the core principles of our justice system through pro bono legal service, because nobody else can.

Pro bono service enriches communities, empowers people out of poverty, and provides the personal satisfaction that comes from helping someone in need. Pro bono attorneys have the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of clients who have nowhere else to turn for assistance. Even the most simple pro bono experience can make a real impact. For example, writing a will for a terminally ill client provides peace of mind and stability at a family’s most vulnerable moment.

Pro bono service also provides attorneys with opportunities for professional development. New and experienced attorneys alike seek out pro bono opportunities that allow them to utilize their skills to make an impact in today’s world. Pro bono helps attorneys develop and hone legal skills through a referral system that provides ongoing support and assistance and free CLE training.

How can I get started?

Review our projects and opportunities listed on this site and complete our volunteer application.  A staff member from SEOLS will follow up with you soon.

Attorneys interested in handling cases or providing pro bono legal advice must be active and in good standing with the Supreme Court of Ohio.  we have additional options for law students, paralegals, and other community members.

What support does SEOLS provide to volunteers?

  • Primary malpractice insurance coverage on cases referred through our program
  • Mentors – we can pair you with staff attorneys to assist you in subject matters in which you need additional expertise
  • CLE credit for volunteer hours  – Attorneys and paralegals can receive up to six hours of CLE credit for their pro bono service
  • Free training – we provide access to live training for CLE credit

How can I help?

Case referrals – we can send you case referrals for pro bono representation in the following areas: wills and advanced directives for seniors, protection orders for victims of domestic violence, evictions, credit card debt collection, Chapter 7 bankruptcies, federal income tax controversies, unemployment compensation appeals, and simple divorces.

Brief advice clinics – SEOLS partners with a number of communities to offer brief advice clinics.  These clinics offer participants a chance to meet one-on-one with attorneys and obtain do-it-yourself forms, if appropriate.  See the events calendar to find your next local clinic.  Don’t see your county?  Contact us to explore options for creating a clinic in your community.

Mentoring – offer your expertise to mentor SEOLS staff attorneys outside of our routine practice or to mentor other volunteers

In-house volunteers – SEOLS welcomes volunteer attorneys  who are willing to support the work of our offices by committing to a regular schedule during business hours for at least two months.  This is an excellent opportunity for new lawyers to gain skills under the supervision of an experienced attorney while working part-time elsewhere or searching for paid employment.  Retired attorneys are also encouraged to consider taking on a volunteer project.

Reduced fee panel – commit to take simple divorces or Chapter 7 bankruptcies at a reduced fee to clients referred by our program.  Each participant is expected to take at least one pro bono case per year, but the number of reduced fee cases attorneys can accept is not limited.

Each year, we create a plan to guide our efforts to involve private attorneys in our services to low income people.  Check out our 2016 Private Attorney Involvement Plan.

Non-Attorney Pro Bono Opportunities 

You do not need a law license to help make a difference in your community. SEOLS is always in need of dedicated, committed individuals to assist with court filing, special projects, or other clerical matters. Anyone with the time, dedication, and talent to help SEOLS achieve its mission of improving the lives of and empowering low income southeast Ohio residents and senior citizens is encouraged to complete the volunteer application.

In addition, if you are a law student and would like more information on how you can get involved in pro bono opportunities, please complete the volunteer interest form. Volunteering while in law school is an excellent way to learn practical lawyering skills, network with attorneys, and add to your resume.  Columbus area students may be able to volunteer through our administrative office, located at 1108 City Park Avenue, Columbus, Ohio.

Non-attorneys, please complete this form to get more information about volunteering.