To partner with the private bar, emeritus attorneys, law graduates, law students, paralegals, and other professionals to ensure access to justice while providing the highest quality civil legal assistance and representation to eligible clients.
Florida Rural Legal Services, Inc. (FRLS) is a non-profit law firm providing free civil legal assistance to indigent, elderly, and disabled people in thirteen counties in south and central Florida and to farmworkers throughout the entire state. FRLS’ general service area ranges from the more urban Palm Beach County to the rural counties in central Florida. FRLS’ Private Attorney Involvement (PAI) Plan endeavors to establish a uniform pro bono delivery system while allowing FRLS to meet regional needs through legal specialization and maximizing local resources.
FRLS has a strong commitment to working with the private bar, law students, law graduates, paralegals, and other professionals to ensure that as many individuals in need of assistance have the best legal representation possible. To that end, FRLS encourages private attorneys to sign up with our Pro Bono Program (click here to sign up).
The term PAI includes not only private attorneys but also retired attorneys, inactive attorneys, law graduates, law students, paralegals, and other professionals. Florida Bar Rule 4-6.1 suggests as an aspirational goal that each member donate a minimum of 20 hours to the poor or contribute at least $350.00 to a legal aid organization like FRLS.
Frequently Asked Questions
What will I be doing if I sign up to provide pro bono service?
You will provide advice to a client either over the phone or in person. You may decide to accept a case for full representation or provide brief service at a one day clinic (ask-a-lawyer event).
How much time will it take?
For a clinic, the time commitment is one or two hours (depending on your availability). If you take a case, the time commitment depends on the scope of your representation, just like with a paying client.
Are there any one-time opportunities available?
Yes. We frequently have general advice, pro se, and advanced directive clinics.
Where will I work?
You may work at your own office or at our office. Clinics are held at different locations around the community.
Can I learn a new area of law?
Yes. We offer free CLE training for any attorney willing to take a pro bono case. We may also provide a mentor or co-counsel with you on a pro bono case.
I am a member of the bar, but don’t practice as a lawyer. Can I still get involved?
Absolutely! There are many ways to volunteer. Your local pro bono coordinator can speak with you to determine how to best utilize your skills. Also, many clients require relatively simple assistance that you can handle with minimal training or supervision.
I am a retired or inactive attorney from another state. Can I get involved?
Yes! You can provide pro bono services under the Florida Bar Emeritus Rule.
Do you offer CLE credit?
Yes. Free CLEs are available to anyone willing to commit to taking a pro bono case.
By signing up, am I committing to take a case?
No. By signing up you are giving us permission to contact you and ask you to review a pro bono matter. We will NEVER refer a case to you without asking you first. If we ask you to take a case and you are too busy, just say “no” and we will ask another attorney.
When you say “yes” to a pro bono request, you are only agreeing to an initial consultation with the client. We ask that you meet with the client with a specific goal in mind, like representing the client pro bono for a specific issue, but the scope of your relationship with the client will be determined by you after the first meeting.
Will I have to pay for expenses related to my pro bono case or malpractice insurance?
No. FRLS covers your malpractice insurance including deductible. We will also pay certain expenses such as postage, mileage, copies, depositions, transcripts, etc. For any individual costs over $200.00 you will contact your local pro bono coordinator for prior approval.
What happens once I take a pro-bono case?
You will receive an Opening Letter, Case Open Report (this triggers your malpractice coverage), Cost Reimbursement Form, and a Close Case Report. We will request a status update each quarter to determine if the case is ready to be closed. You will close the case when you feel it is appropriate just like with any paying client.
If I agree to take a pro bono case and it becomes too complex, can I withdraw?
Most likely. We will do our best to find a replacement pro bono or in-house attorney in order to allow you to withdraw seamlessly. However, whether you can withdraw in some litigation cases will still depend on an order granting withdrawal from the judge.
Can I ask for attorneys fees?
YES! We encourage you to ask for attorney fees. If fees are awarded, you may keep the fees or choose to donate part or all of your fees to FRLS. If you are able to obtain fees and choose to keep them, we will simply not report the case to our funders as a pro bono case.
I have the occasional client who can’t afford to pay for my services. Can I do that case as part of my pro bono service?
Yes. As long as the client is determined eligible for pro bono services under federal poverty guidelines. You will contact us and we will conduct an intake interview with your client over the telephone. If your client falls within our eligibility guidelines, the case can be processed as a pro bono case through our office. If a determination is made that the client is not eligible for pro bono services, maybe the client should be paying you!
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only.