Support Access to Justice
Give Time: Pro Bono Opportunities in Washington State
Washington State has an innovative and integrated delivery system which is designed to provide a full range of legal services to the broadest spectrum of clients in need. The legal services providers that make up this delivery system include four main partners:
- Volunteer Attorney Programs (WSBA site)
More than 4,000 attorneys provide free legal services for low-income clients through Washington’s network of 24 Volunteer Attorney Programs. Types of cases commonly handled by attorneys participating in these programs include housing, protection of financial resources, consumer protection and family law.
- Specialized Legal Services Programs (WSBA site)
Specialized legal services programs provide direct representation, referral, advice and education to low-income people with civil legal problems. They depend upon volunteers to work with administrative staff and staff attorneys to ensure a basic level of service provision.
- Columbia Legal Services
101 Yesler, Ste. 600, Seattle, WA 98104
Contact: Gail Jackson
Phone: 206-464-1155 ext 211CLS is a full-service, statewide legal-services program dedicated to ensuring that a full range of legal services is available to all of Washington’s low-income population, in particular, vulnerable and hard-to-serve special-needs populations that face unique barriers to the justice system. CLS focuses on hard-to-reach/hard-to-serve poor people who are unable to use the CLEAR system. Each local office uses volunteer attorneys in a variety of ways. From research and writing to direct representation, there are many ways you can help.
- Northwest Justice Project
401 Second Ave. S., Ste. 407, Seattle, WA 98104
Contact: Joan Kleinberg
Phone: 206-464-1519The federal statewide partner in the Access to Justice Network, NJP provides direct services to low-income clients and serves as a primary point of access for clients through a centralized, statewide referral system called CLEAR (Coordinated Legal Education, Advice and Referral). NJP needs volunteer attorneys to answer and follow up on CLEAR calls, serve as a resource in their given field for CLEAR staff, and provide training to CLEAR staff on specific areas of law.
All of these programs need volunteer attorneys to provide direct representation to low-income clients. Attorneys also are needed to staff advice clinics, lecture to community groups and serve as board members. Whatever time and expertise you can donate to these programs not only fulfills your ethical obligation as an attorney to further equal access to justice, but also rewards you with the personal satisfaction of helping those who otherwise would go unserved.
Please contact one of these programs to learn more about volunteer opportunities. If you are inactive or retired, please contact the Washington State Bar Association to apply for status as an Emeritus Attorney.
A new MCLE rule awards attorneys MCLE credit for representing low income clients pro bono through the volunteer attorney programs. Please inquire about the rule when you join a pro bono panel and accept the referral of a case.
Legal Services in Washington is a model public-private partnership. Providers leverage state, federal and private funding to provide critically-needed legal assistance for thousands of low-income people a year. There are four foundations in Washington that exist primarily for the support of the Washington State Legal Services Provider Network. By giving generously to these foundations and your local volunteer programs, you increase resources for the entire Washington State Access to Justice Network.
- King County Bar Association
KCBF is a charitable and educational foundation which promotes programs that increase legal remedies to the poor, enhance public understanding of the law and increase minority participation in the legal profession.
- LAW Fund
Rebecca Mordini-Bluhm, Executive Director Phone: 206-623-5261
Created by members of the private bar in 1991, LAW Fund seeks to institutionalize private support for civil legal services programs in Washington state by raising funds to preserve and expand civil legal services for low-income persons.
- Legal Foundation of Washington
LFW is dedicated to the provision of equal access to the justice system by funding legal and education programs for low-income persons through the fair and efficient administration of IOLTA and other available funds.
- Pierce County Bar Foundation
Created in 1996, the Foundation’s purpose is to carry on law-related education and charitable activities, with a primary focus on the support of the Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association’s Volunteer Legal Services Program.
There is an enormous need for volunteers to work to increase public awareness about access to justice issues. By increasing awareness, new opportunities and resources for providing legal services emerge. Here are some ways you can help.
- Join the Equal Justice CoalitionThe Equal Justice Coalition is a broad-based bipartisan coalition of more than 100 community leaders and 50 organizations statewide. The Coalition was formed in December 1994 to educate federal and state legislators and the public about the importance of legal services to our community and to advocate for continuing and broadening support for legal services in Washington state. The Coalition needs volunteers to meet with elected officials, join a fax tree, and provide education to the public about access to justice issues.Contact: Erin Hyppa
- Attend the Annual Access to Justice ConferenceThe annual Access to Justice Conferences offer educational workshops, networking opportunities, prominent speakers, and a forum in which to discuss the provision of civil legal services in our state. Mark your calendar for the seventh annual conference, to be held in Yakima on June 7-9, 2002.Contact: Sharlene Steele, WSBA ATJ Programs Liaison
- Serve on an Access to Justice Board CommitteeThe Supreme Court of Washington created the Access to Justice Board in 1994 for the purpose of improving access to justice for low- and middle-income populations. This nine-member volunteer board has several permanent committees working on important access to justice issues.
- Access to Justice Conference Planning
- Access to Justice Technology Bill of Rights
- Courthouse Facilitator
- Editorial Advisory
- Equal Justice Coalition
- Family Law
- Greater Access and Assistance Project (GAAP)
- Impediments to Access to Justice
- Jurisprudence of Access to Justice
- Law-Related Services
- Resource Development
- Unbundled Legal ServicesContact: Joan Fairbanks, WSBA Justice Programs Manager
- Join a WSBA Section or a Section of your local bar association dedicated to public service issues.Becoming involved with the public-service activities of the your state or local bar association is an excellent way to contribute to the Washington State Access to Justice Network.Contact: Toni Doane, WSBA Sections Liaison
Phone: 206-727-8293, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Promote pro bono efforts within your law firm, corporate law department or government agencyThe WSBA Pro Bono and Legal Aid Committee can provide you with model pro bono policies and other assistance.Contact: Joan Fairbanks, WSBA Justice Programs Manager
- Educate the Public About the LawVolunteer for one of the many programs working to educate members of the public about our justice system and their rights and responsibilities under the law. Such opportunities are discussed in a recent Bar News article by Judge Marlin Appelwick and Judith Billings, co-chairs of the Council on Public Legal Education.