Lawyers and Limited License Legal Technicians (LLLTs) in Washington have a professional responsibility to assist in the provision of legal services to those unable to pay and should aspire to render at least 30 hours of pro bono service per year. See Rule of Professional Conduct (RPC) 6.1 and Limited License Legal Technician (LLLT) RPC 6.1.
The WSBA works with Qualified Legal Services Providers (QLSPs) across the state to connect lawyers and LLLTs with clients who need pro bono legal advice and assistance. QLSPs are not-for-profit organizations that provide legal assistance to low-income Washingtonians.
There are over 50 QLSPs, a list of which, by county, can be found at www.wsba.org/connect-serve/volunteer-opportunities/psp/qualified-legal-service-providers.
Pro Bono Washington
Pro Bono Washington (located at www.probonowa.org) is an online resource administered by the WSBA in collaboration with the WSBA Pro Bono and Public Service Committee and organizations in the pro bono community. The purpose of the portal is to connect legal professionals to pro bono opportunities throughout the state that match their interests, expertise, and availability. Pro Bono Washington partners with more than 80 volunteer legal providers that offer legal services to low- and moderate-income individuals in our community to link legal professionals to clients in need of their services. The site has undergone some exciting new changes, and more are in the works, including a calendar that will share upcoming events. Keep an eye out for more information in the months ahead!
Volunteer Lawyer Programs
Volunteer lawyer programs are local nonprofits that serve low-income people with civil, not criminal, legal problems. They rely on unpaid volunteer attorneys to provide anything from one-time legal advice to full pro bono representation. While some areas, like eviction defense, have received extra funding during the pandemic, there is a particularly huge need for volunteers in the areas of family law and support for domestic violence survivors.
A typical volunteer commitment would be providing one-time consultations at a frequency of your choosing. Most programs are operating at full capacity during the pandemic, and most advice is still provided remotely via phone or video conference, which makes it even easier to volunteer! If you want to know more about volunteer opportunities at a volunteer lawyer program, contact your local program (often run by your local county bar association) or Washington Pro Bono Council Manager Michael Terasaki at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Earn CLE Credits
In addition to making a valuable difference in their communities, many legal professionals utilize pro bono work as a professional development opportunity: to learn new substantive areas of law, work with different client communities, and deepen their legal skills. Although these opportunities are enriching on their own, by volunteering with a QLSP, you have the added benefit of earning unlimited “other” MCLE credits for your pro bono work. A win-win situation!
Free Public Service Education CLEs
The WSBA maintains a portfolio of free Public Service Education CLEs available to staff and pro bono volunteers of QLSPs. Authenticated volunteers can access over 20 CLEs with topics ranging from “Working with Survivors of Domestic Violence” to “The Alpha-Bravo-Charlies of Working with Vets.”
Pro Bono Publico Honor Roll
Every year, the WSBA generates a list of WSBA members who have submitted over 50 hours of pro bono work during the reporting period. These members receive both a commendation letter and a certificate recognizing their commitment to volunteerism. The Washington Supreme Court Pro Bono Publico Honor Roll also recognizes these stewards of justice. Find the 2020 list here.
To learn more, contact PublicService@wsba.org.