Frequently Asked Questions about Pro Bono Service at Pisgah Legal Services

Does Pisgah Legal Services provide malpractice insurance for volunteer attorneys?

Yes, all pro bono casework is covered by Pisgah Legal Services’ malpractice insurance. If you need additional information about our coverage please contact Katie Russell Miller at [email protected].

Do I need to have experience in the areas of law practiced by Pisgah Legal Services to volunteer?

No, experience in particular areas of law is not required. We can provide training, mentoring and other support to our volunteers to prepare them to advise or represent our clients.

What type of training and support do you provide?

Pisgah Legal Services’ staff and experienced volunteer attorneys provide training, mentoring and co-counseling to new volunteers. PLS has an online library of training videos for volunteer attorneys, covering several areas of law. Pisgah Legal can also provide sample pleadings and other documents to our volunteer attorneys. Volunteer attorneys can accompany our staff or experienced volunteer attorneys to court to observe a case.

What makes a client eligible for help from volunteer lawyers?

All Pisgah Legal pro bono clients are screened for income level/assets and the nature of their legal matter. Most MAVL clients have incomes at or below 125% of the federal poverty level; our average client income is between $11,000-$12,000/year.

How are pro bono referrals made?

There are several ways in which pro bono referrals are made, including:

  • Pisgah Legal Services’ staff may contact you by email or phone to ask if you are available to assist with a particular pro bono case. You accept or decline the referral.
  • You can sign up to do our housing or consumer advice line for a particular week. We send you the names of two or three clients to provide advice to by phone that week.
  • You sign up to assist with legal clinics that we publicize through our pro bono network.

What if, during the course of my work with a Pisgah Legal client, it seems that the case is not appropriate for MAVL?

We make every effort to get accurate information from clients about their legal matter and their financial situation. If during the course of your work with a PLS client you get additional information that may indicate they are not eligible or otherwise may not be appropriate for pro bono assistance, please contact Katie Russell Miller at [email protected] or 828.210.3420.

What if my pro bono client has legal issues that I cannot advise or represent on?
In the course of your work with a Pisgah Legal Services client, you may find that they have other legal problems that are beyond the scope of the work you agreed to do with them. Please contact our staff about this as soon as possible. We may be able to assist the client with other issues in-house or refer them to another volunteer for additional assistance.

What if the client does not return my phone calls or does not show up for meetings we have set?

Pisgah Legal Services’ clients may be in crisis and under a great deal of stress due to domestic violence, serious housing problems, denial of health care, and other problems related to living in poverty. Dealing with crisis and a lack of financial resources can sometimes make it difficult for our clients to respond to phone calls or make it to appointments. We recognize that this can cause challenges and frustration for you and your staff. If you have difficulty reaching your pro bono client or face any other challenges with a pro bono referral, please contact us as soon as possible so we can assist.

What if in my private practice I receive a request for assistance from someone I think would be eligible for Pisgah Legal Services’ programs?

If you think someone may be eligible for assistance from Pisgah Legal Services (by a staff or volunteer attorney), please refer them to Katie Russell Miller at [email protected]. Pisgah Legal will do an initial interview with the applicant and determine their eligibility. If you would like to assist the person you’ve referred to us, if they are eligible, please let Katie know. Otherwise, we will assign the case to another attorney.

Each year Pisgah Legal Services and the Buncombe County Bar honor exemplary volunteer attorneys. In 2019 we recognized (L to R): Eleanor Powers, Natalie Gray, Lance Martin, and Alex Gomes.