Pro bono work is a priority for the Montgomery County Bar Association (MCBA). The MCBA’s Volunteer Lawyer Program (VLP) works to meet the needs of low-income Alabamians with the active participation of its members. Lawyers donate their time to ensure the underserved have equal access to justice.
Access to justice for the poor became the main focus for the Alabama State Bar in 2009, under the leadership of then Bar President and Beasley Allen lawyer Tom Methvin. It is estimated that about 25 percent of Alabama’s population, or about 1 million people, live in poverty.
As lawyers, we have a unique opportunity to provide a critical service to the poor in our community – legal representation. At a time of great crisis in their lives, we can offer people the help they need through pro bono legal services. Pro bono service is a privilege, and it is a critical part of our professional duties.
In 2009 the Montgomery County Bar Association formed a Pro Bono Committee, tasked with increasing participation in the Alabama State Bar Volunteer Lawyer Program (VLP). The MCBA established and operates a monthly Pro Bono Clinic to provide free legal counseling to clients who qualify. This program is still going strong, held on the first Tuesday of each month from 3-5 p.m. at the Head Start Educational Building. Local lawyers provide free legal advice to those who cannot afford legal fees. Legal counseling is provided on civil matters including Divorce/Custody/Visitation; Debts/Bankruptcy/Foreclosure; Landlord/Tenant Issues; and Domestic Violence issues.
In 2012, the Montgomery Volunteer Lawyer Program (MVLP) established the Montgomery County Bar Foundation with a grant from the Alabama Civil Justice Foundation (ACJF). The purpose of the grant is to support the continued growth and expansion of Volunteer Lawyer Programs that are enabling pro bono services by lawyers to effectively function as part of the state’s efforts to ensure civil legal aid for the poor.
This year, Montgomery Bar Foundation President Tim Gallagher helped lead an initiative to establish a new District Court Help Desk that will serve Montgomery County residents in civil matters. The Help Desk launched in December. It is designed to assist self-represented litigants who are appearing in District Court. The Help Desk provides advice and assistance with completing forms, motions and other legal matters related to these cases. The Help Desk is available the second Monday of each month, set up in Courtroom 2A in the Phelps-Price Justice Center from 8:30-11:30 a.m. Lawyers are asked to volunteer as little as one hour of their time to staff the Help Desk.
The MVLP is steadily growing, increasing the number of individuals served by the program. In 2014 the MVLP opened 332 cases, an incredible 93 percent increase from 2013! If you would like to get involved with the MVLP, contact Mike Martin, Executive Director, at 334-265-0222.
Pro bono work is very important in Alabama, where only 16 percent of people who live in poverty and are in need of civil legal service are able to obtain legal services, and in a state where there are very limited funds for civil legal aid. According to numbers supplied by the ACJF, in 2013 4,100 Alabama lawyers donated more than 12,000 hours in free legal services. Most of the pro bono work done throughout the state is done through the Volunteer Lawyer Programs.
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.