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Birmingham Bar Associations Bulletin Summer 2015

Pro Bono Answering the Call to Service The big story for the Birmingham Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program (BBVLP) in the first quarter of 2015 is not the modest increase in cases closed (five) over the same period last year, but the large increase in quality of service delivered to clients. Attorney Shaun Styers counsels a client at the Civil Help Desk Attorney Sara LaDu at a weekly Help Desk More cases assigned to pro bono attorneys The biggest quality improvement is the amount of cases BBVLP staff attorneys assigned to volunteer attorneys. In the first quarter of this year, 212 clients have pro bono attorneys working on their cases. This is 51 more cases assigned over the same period last year and demonstrates the commitment of the of the Birmingham legal community to pro bono work. Better services provided The second biggest quality improvement is the amount of cases closed at the BBVLP’s three weekly Help Desks that are closed as “limited service” instead of only “counsel and advice.” Beginning in the fourth quarter of 2014, the BBVLP intentionally worked to train Help Desk attorneys so that they could better assist self-represented clients by helping them complete necessary pleadings and file those pleadings on the spot at the courthouse. In the first quarter of this year, two-thirds of all Help Desk cases were closed as limited service and the other third was counsel and advice. Clients must be income eligible The final big quality improvement is the adherence to income-eligibility standards. The BBVLP consciously does not accept any client over income because we want our volunteer attorneys to rest assured that we are not giving away legal services to clients who can afford attorneys. The BBVLP did not accept 60 clients into the program during the first quarter of 2015 because they were over income. First quarter client service numbers show Birmingham attorneys providing better pro bono work Total Clients: 787 Total Cases Closed or Rejected: 575 (five more than last year)  Help Desk Cases Closed: 430  Extended Representation Closed Cases: 49  Clients rejected for being over-income: 60  Clients seen more than once at a help desk: 36 Total Extended Services Cases Currently Assigned to Volunteer Attorneys: 212 (51 more than last year) Birmingham Bar Bulletin/ Summer 2015 37


Birmingham Bar Associations Bulletin Summer 2015
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