Pro Bono Programs
Pro bono programs advances the bar association's founding purpose "to encourage the delivery of legal services free of charge or at low cost to those members of the general public who cannot afford to pay the normal fee."
For the Public
The Pro Bono programs promote a Free Legal Aid Clinic and assists with the distribution of forms created by the Michigan Supreme Court's State Court Administrative Office (SCAO). Click on the "For the Public" tab and select "Free Legal Aid Clinic" and "Forms."
Pro Bono Opportunities
To volunteer as a pro bono attorney add "pro bono" to your membership directory listing.
Active members who are willing to take referrals for pro bono cases should add "pro bono" to their directory entry. Need-based clients frequently approach local organizations (Legal Services of Northern Michigan, Third Level Crisis Center, Women’s Resource Center) seeking legal representations. These organizations, when they are not able to provide direct legal assistance, would like to be search the Member Directory for counsel who have indicated a willingness to take occasional cases on a pro bono basis. Every attorney has something to contribute, please add "pro bono" to your profile in the membership directory.
For members: Gain experience, expand your practice areas, serve others! Free training is available in some practice areas!
- Mediation at Conflict Resolution Services (CRS): CRS provides free or low-cost mediation services to parties in Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Antrim, Benzie, Wexford and Missaukee counties, for a variety of disputes, both where the parties agree to mediation or where the Court has ordered it. Trained mediators may volunteer with CRS to assist in simple (up to 3 hour) or more complex mediation projects. Local attorneys, who are trained mediators, may contact CRS to join their list of volunteer mediators. Contact Becky Rogan, CRS Director, info@CRSmediationTC.org (231) 941-5835.
- LSNM Internet Representation Project (IRP): The IRP is a website that allows qualified (income-based eligibility) clients to post a question to a private messaging system. The questions are answered by private volunteer attorneys. An IRP client can post at any time, or schedule a real time chat session with an attorney. Both the client and the attorney remain anonymous to insure complete privacy. Contact Ken Penokie, LSNM Executive Director, (906) 786-2303. To view the site go to: http://www.lsnmirp.org/client.php/
- Third Level Crisis Center Free Legal Aid Clinic (FLAC): Click here: https://www.cfsnwmi.org/flac The FLAC provides up to 15 first-come first-served clients the opportunity to receive private, free, confidential legal advice from volunteer attorneys. The Clinic is held every Tuesday beginning at 6:30 p.m. at Third Level Crisis Intervention Center, Inc., 3785 Veterans Drive, Traverse City. The commitment is typically two or three times per year, as FLAC rotates the scheduled attorneys throughout the year.
- Family Law Clinic of Legal Services of Northern Michigan’s (LSNM): On the 3rd Thursday of each month from 6-8 pm. RSVP for clients not required. Volunteer attorneys provide legal assistance to clients in pro per divorces. The Clinic is held at Grace Episcopal Church, 341 Washington Street, Traverse City. The volunteer attorneys provide individual assistance to participants. The program relies on a small force of dedicated family law attorneys. Contact: Mary Kavanaugh-Gahn, LSNM, (231) 941-0771.
- Immigration Law Clinic: Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON): JFON is a project of the Central United Methodist Church that provides legal, educational, and advocacy services to local immigrants. JFON organizes periodic legal clinics, and seeks volunteer attorneys to assist with the clinics. Attorneys who speak a foreign language are welcome, though translators are available. Attorneys need not be specialized in immigration law, as JFON provides training materials and attorney support prior to and during the clinic. Contact: Alline Beutler or Susan Norkowski, a.beutler@JFONWestmichigan.org or s.norkowski@JFONWestmichigan.org, (231) 620-1100, http://jfonwestmichigan.org/.
The SBM Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) currently receives more than 500 calls each week from people looking for lawyers. Many of these are unable to find a match because there are not enough attorneys in some geographic areas or in some practice areas. For more than a year we've been revising and improving LRS. The resulting system produces far better matches for attorneys and consumers alike. We're ready to begin a significant marketing initiative to consumers and we need more lawyers to participate as panel members. In addition to traditional cases, LRS has added Modest Means panels for family law and bankruptcy, and opportunities for attorneys to market Limited Scope practice.
Click here to learn more about LRS
Click here to learn more about joining one or more of our LRS panels
Click here to learn more about Limited Scope practice