Volunteer Lawyers Program – VLP
Due to limited resources, DNA turns away nearly 3,000 people a year who ask for our help. As an attorney, you are uniquely qualified to assist people in poverty who experience substantially more legal problems than anyone else in our community – problems often resulting from poverty itself.
Each year, at least 100 volunteer attorneys take a pro bono case in Arizona and New Mexico, through DNA’s VLP.
Join DNA’s Volunteer Lawyers Program and help someone today. You choose how to be involved. Click here to see attorney volunteer opportunities. Volunteer receive benefits like malpractice coverage, access to Westlaw, secretarial support, travel expenses to defray litigation costs, and free or reduced fee CLE.
To join VLP or learn more about the program, contact:
Barbara Benavidez, VLP Coordinator
(928) 774-0653, ext. 4817
Kevin Kiser, VLP Coordinator
ASK – Attorneys Sharing Knowledge: “Mentor” DNA litigators by answering questions over the phone or by email. Unlike attorneys at private law firms, DNA litigators get courtroom experience right from the start. Volunteer some time to answer questions about particular subject areas, such as a real estate issues in a divorce case. We practice in Arizona and New Mexico, plus in tribal court in Navajo, Hopi, Havasupai, Hualapai and Jicarilla Apache.
Accept cases for representation: Accepting a case can mean only a consultation with a client, or it can mean representing the client in court or an administrative proceeding. Let us know what and how much you’re willing to do, and we’ll help you manage it. VLP staff is available for secretarial services, including drafting pleadings and communicating with the client. Also, costs such as your travel, service of process, and deposition costs can be paid by the VLP program.
Self-Help Clinics: Volunteer 2-8 hours interviewing clients individually, and help them complete their self-help packets for divorce, custody, paternity, child support, name change etc. Expect minimal follow up (answering questions about service of process and default process) through VLP staff.
New Client Intake: Volunteer up to 4 hours of your time to interview new DNA clients, give them advice or conduct a brief service, such as making a telephone call or writing a demand letter. You’ll be expected to keep intake and advice notes, and to make a recommendation about handling the case. The only follow up will be reviewing an advice letter drafted by VLP staff based on your notes.
Monthly Self-Help Divorce Clinic: Volunteer 4 hours of your time to help individuals, classroom-style, to complete their pro se divorce packets, answer questions, complete child support worksheets, and review their completed packets. Expect minimal follow-up to also review some completed packets after the clinic, advise clients about service of process, and review default documents, through VLP staff.
Provide representation pro bono on issues such as consumer fraud, debt collection, family law, Social Security benefits, personal bankruptcy, IRS tax controversies, guardianship of incapacitated adults, home ownership and tenant’s rights.
Present at “How to Represent Yourself in Court:” A volunteer lawyer and a judge present this bimonthly seminar, which is free and open to the public. Topics include jurisdiction, how to get a case started in the courts, the process of a case, and how a trial is conducted.
Community Education Presentations: Volunteer attorneys have made presentations to youth at The Alternatives Center concerning criminal rights, at high schools concerning consumer issues, to seniors concerning estate planning, and to HIV+ folks on estate planning, property and custody issues. If you can think it up, we’ll publicize it, and reproduce hand-outs.
CLE presentations: Volunteer to make a CLE presentation at the County Bar monthly meetings, at a State Bar CLE, at the Navajo Nation Bar Association annual conference, at a DNA litigators’ training or a statewide legal aid training, or teach a topic at the Navajo Nation Bar Review course. DNA provides logistical support, like copying handouts for you.
Join the DNA Board of Directors: Members are appointed, after an application process, by the state or local bar associations.
Write a newspaper article about a particular area of law: In the past, we’ve had volunteer attorneys write columns on “What to do if you’re in an auto accident,” and “Wills.” The articles are edited by VLP staff to a 7th grade reading level, and to be applicable specifically to low income clients. You may have already written such an article, and we’d love to use it!
Lend us your new litigators for 6 months! You pay them, and we’ll train them in how to interview new clients, write advice letters and demand letters, keep time slips, manage caseloads, prepare pleadings of all kinds, argue motions in court, and represent clients through trial or administrative hearings. You get a trained litigator, and we help 100-200 clients in those 6 months.
Be a Guardian Ad Litem: Volunteer to be appointed as a Guardian ad Litem on court cases. There are free trainings available on how to be a GAL, child abuse & neglect, and on domestic violence.