The Robins Kaplan Spotlight, Vol. 5, No. 4, Winter 2021 - Pro Bono Publico–For The Public Good

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The new year is a time to reflect on the year past. After 2020, such reflection is perhaps unlike that of prior years. Given everything going on in the world right now, particularly the isolation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is easy to feel disconnected. Going into 2021, we want to highlight a great way to build connections and involvement: volunteering and pro bono service.

Volunteering and pro bono can be great ways to connect with other people and make a huge difference for an individual and communities. Studies1 have also found that volunteering is good for your health. Many charities and other organizations have developed plans to continue to serve their populations in safe and socially distant ways. Whether you drop off food at a food bank, donate clothing, or prepare meals for delivery to homebound neighbors, there are options for everyone to help others and to feel more connected at the same time.

For attorneys, donating our time and professional skills is also an important way to give back. The ABA’s Model Rule 6.1 urges all lawyers to provide a minimum of 50 hours of pro bono services annually.

We invite you to check out the pro bono opportunities for attorneys below. For non-legal volunteer opportunities, you can visit www.volunteermatch.org, which enables search by virtual or in-person openings.

NATIONAL

ABA MILITARY PRO BONO PROJECT

Help junior enlisted military members in variety of legal areas, including probate, trusts, and estates.
Service Area: Nationwide
To Volunteer, register here: www.militaryprobono.org/join/

CALIFORNIA

AIDS LEGAL REFERRAL PANEL
Help clients living with HIV/AIDS create wills and trusts.
Service Area: San Francisco Bay Area
To Volunteer, apply here: www.alrp.org/join-the-panel/about-the-panel

BET TZEDEK
Help low-income clients draft advance health care directives and wills.
Service Area: Los Angeles
To Volunteer: Contact Cristin Zeisler at czeisler@bettzedek.org or Rachel Ettinger at rettinger@bettzedek.org.

ELDER LAW & ADVOCACY
Help seniors with estate planning and wills.
Service Area: San Diego and Imperial Counties
To Volunteer: Call 858-565-1392 ext. 208.

FLORIDA

FLORIDA RURAL
LEGAL SERVICES
Help seniors with probate, wills, powers of attorney, living wills, and health care surrogate forms.
Service Area: Lee County
To Volunteer, register here: www.frls.org/pro-bono-sign-up-form/

LEGAL AID SERVICE OF COLLIER COUNTY
Help low-income clients draft wills and estates.
Service Area: Collier County
To Volunteer, register here: www.collierlegalaid.org/collier-lawyers-care/

MASSACHUSETTS

BET TZEDEK
Volunteer opportunities for attorneys to work with low-income clients in a variety of areas, including elder law and probate law.
Service Area: Greater Boston
To Volunteer, fill out the volunteer registration form here: www.jfcsboston.org/Our-Services/Community-Services/Center-for-Basic-Needs-Assistance/Bet-Tzedek-Legal-Services

MINNESOTA

MID-MINNESOTA LEGAL AID
Volunteer attorneys draft wills, durable power of attorney documents, and health care directives for senior clients. Attorneys interact with clients via telephone or online virtual meetings.
Service Area: Anoka and Hennepin Counties
To Volunteer: Contact Colleen Daly, Pro Bono Coordinator, at cdaly@mylegalaid.org or 612-746-3765.

SOUTHERN MINNESOTA REGIONAL LEGAL SERVICES
Help low-income clients with a will. Volunteer attorneys receive a packet of information about the client and draft a will using a provided template. Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS) has the client review the will, and if the client has questions, SMRLS will schedule a meeting for the volunteer and client.

SMRLS also uses volunteer attorneys to review these wills and coordinate with the client to have documents witnessed and notarized.
Service Area: Blue Earth, Brown, Carver, Cottonwood, Dakota, Dodge, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, Jackson, Le Sueur, Martin, McLeod, Mower, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Olmsted, Ramsey, Redwood, Rice, Rock, Scott, Sibley, Steele, Wabasha, Waseca, Washington, Watonwan, and Winona Counties
To Volunteer: Contact Emily Bowen, Volunteer Attorney Coordinator, at emily.bowen@smrls.org or 651-222-5863.

JUSTUS HEALTH
Help low-income LGBTQ clients and clients living with HIV create wills, trusts, powers of attorney, health care directives, and other estate tools.
Service Area: Minnesota
To Volunteer: Contact Lynn Mickelson, Senior Attorney, at lynn.mickelson@justushealth.org or 612-373-2428.

NEW YORK

LEGAL SERVICES NYC
Help low-income clients draft wills and advance directives.
Service Area: All NYC: Bronx, Kings (Brooklyn), NY (Manhattan), Queens, Richmond (Staten Island)
To Volunteer: Attorneys associated with a law firm or corporation should contact Adam Heintz, Director of Pro Bono, at aheintz@lsnyc.org; attorneys not associated with a law firm or corporation can volunteer by completing the application here: www.legalservicesnyc.org/get-involved/pro-bono

VOLUNTEERS OF LEGAL SERVICE
Through the Volunteers of Legal Service, pro bono attorneys can work with elderly clients and/or veterans to provide wills, powers of attorney, and other essential life planning documents.
Service Area: All NYC: Bronx, Kings (Brooklyn), NY (Manhattan), Queens, Richmond (Staten Island)
To Volunteer: Contact Sara Effron, Director of Pro Bono and Strategic Initiatives, at seffron@volsprobono.org or 347-521-5703.

NORTH DAKOTA

STATE BAR ASSOCIATION OF NORTH DAKOTA VOLUNTEER LAWYERS PROGRAM
Work with the state bar association to help low-income clients with a variety of legal issues, including life planning documents like powers of attorney, health care directives, and wills.
Service Area: North Dakota
To Volunteer: Contact Carrie Molander at carrie@sband.org or 701-255-1404.

SOUTH DAKOTA

ACCESS TO JUSTICE, INC.
Work with the state bar association to help low-income clients with a variety of legal issues, including wills, powers of attorney,
and health care directives.
Service Area: South Dakota
To Volunteer: Contact Denise Langley at access.to.justice@sdbar.net or 1-855-287-3510.

Now more than ever, building connections and community are important. We hope you will join us in giving back to those around us, whether through the nonprofits above, or in different way close to you. If you want to work with Robins Kaplan’s Wealth Planning and Disputes Group attorneys in any of the above services, or share an opportunity of your own, please reach out. We wish you a happy and safe new year.

 

1 https://www.nationalservice.gov/pdf/07_0506_hbr.pdf

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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