Pro Bono Options To Fit Your Needs

By Skye David

Over the past several months, the Pro Bono Committee of the Government and Public Sector Section has been working with the NCBA Pro Bono Committee to establish pro bono projects for the Government and Public Sector Section, with a variety of options to fit each member’s needs and availability. As a committee, we have established four projects to offer the Section members to consider:

Drivers License Restoration Government & Public Sector Attorney Pro Bono Event

3-6:30 p.m., Thursday, June 6
State Employees Association, 1621 Midtown Place, Raleigh 27609
The Event: Under North Carolina law, people who fail to appear in court to resolve a traffic ticket or fail to pay traffic or criminal court debt is subjected to an indefinite suspension of their drivers license, regardless of whether it is their first ticket or first time failing to resolve a ticket.

The inability to pay traffic fees and court costs and the license suspension that results can have dire consequences for drivers and their families. This is particularly true for North Carolinians who are already economically vulnerable and those who live in rural areas without reliable public transportation. Having a suspended or revoked driver’s license can mean missed job opportunities, using expensive ride services such as Uber or Lyft to get to and from a low wage job, relying on others for rides, and reduced access to medical care. Those that continue to drive without a license risk a criminal record and even incarceration.

One in six adults in North Carolina are in this situation. The Driver’s License Restoration Project provides relief to people with these license suspensions through in-person clinics and through District Attorney-led remittance of court fines and fees.

There is a significant need for pro bono attorney volunteers willing to draft advice letters to clients with license suspensions. Attorneys will learn to read driving records and will identify the cause(s) of the client’s license suspension. Attorneys will create advice letters using the template provided. Training and malpractice insurance will be provided.

All advice letters will be reviewed, signed and sent by a supervising attorney.

Training and Mentoring: Is provided.

Malpractice insurance: Is provided.

Contact: Leigh at leigh@ncprobono.org

Immigrant Children’s Legal Program 

The U.S. Border Patrol has reported that over 91,000 unaccompanied immigrant children have been apprehended after crossing the U.S. border since late 2014. These children – primarily from Central and South America, but also from China and Africa – are often fleeing domestic abuse, parental neglect, abandonment, trafficking, and/or gang violence. Without adequate legal representation, many of these children are unable to make effective claims for asylum, trafficking protection, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, or other immigration benefits for which they may be eligible. USCRI’s goal is to ensure that these children receive the proper immigration services they deserve.

How Volunteering as a Pro Bono Attorney Makes a Difference

  • By representing one of the thousands of immigrant children who need representation, ICLP’s volunteer attorneys help children all over the United States achieve stability.
  • Fewer than 50% of children are represented in immigration court
  • Up to 70% of unaccompanied children potentially qualify for statuses that exempt them from deportation
  • Children with legal representation are nearly 9 times more likely to win their case
  • USCRI works with pro bono attorneys willing to represent unaccompanied children facing deportation. USCRI welcomes attorneys with all types of legal expertise. No immigration experience required. Spanish language skills are not necessary.

Training and Mentoring: Provided.

Malpractice insurance: Not provided.

Contact: Sylvia at sylvia@ncprobono.org

Guardian ad Litem Appellate Pro Bono Program

The GAL program relies on pro bono attorneys to represent the best interests of children in juvenile appeals. The appeals generally arise from abuse, neglect, and termination of parental rights cases.

The pro bono attorney settles the record on appeal and files an appellee’s brief. Based on the timelines set out in the Rules of Appellate Procedure for juvenile appeals, the program is able to predict the time window when a pro bono attorney will be writing the brief at the time a case is assigned. Although NC appellate courts are in Raleigh, juvenile cases generally do not have oral arguments, and the parties can file briefs electronically or by mail.

Active NC license is required. The time commitment is approximately 15 hours per brief.

Training and Mentoring: provided.

Malpractice insurance: Not provided.

Contact: Sylvia at sylvia@ncprobono.org

NC Free Legal Answers

NC Free Legal Answers (nc.freelegalanswers.org) is a free, online service for qualifying low-income individuals in North Carolina who need brief legal advice and information on non-criminal matters. Attorneys register to create an account, then can log in to nc.freelegalanswers.org from a computer or smart phone to browse, sort, and filter through the queue of civil questions posted by financially eligible users, and anonymously, confidentially, and privately respond to the posted questions. Attorneys can respond immediately or take up to 3 days to respond to a question, before it pops back into the queue for someone else to take.

Question categories include: Family/Divorce/Custody, Housing, Debts & Purchases, Work, Workers Compensation, Wills/Inheritance, Benefits, Health Care, Medicaid/Medicare/Affordable Care Act, Natural Disaster, Personal Injury, Expungement, Special Education, School Discipline, Immigration, Civil/Constitutional Rights, Emancipation & Delinquency, Military/Veteran and Other. Volunteers can select the exact questions that they would like to respond to and can respond to as many or as few questions as their schedules allow. Representation is limited to answering the questions through the portal (see Attorney Agreement and FAQ’s).

The program is administered in North Carolina by the North Carolina Bar Foundation.

Malpractice insurance: Provided.

Contact: Nihad at nmansour@ncbar.org.

Whether you are only able to participate in a short one-day project or a longer term project, our options are varied for all GPS Section members. If you have any questions about the specific details of any project, contact the person listed on the project or Sylvia Novinsky at sylvia@ncprobono.org