Join your colleagues in signing onto the Central Valley Pro Bono Challenge
Currently, over 4.3 million Californians are unable to access legal services, and it is estimated that 200,000 of these persons reside in Fresno County. These numbers represent families with young children, persons with disabilities, veterans, victims of domestic violence and elder abuse, seniors, immigrants and other low-income individuals. The demand for services from CCLS' client community surpasses the capacity of the staff and other resources of CCLS. Recognizing the growing severity of the unmet legal needs of the poor and disadvantaged in the central valley communities,we ask you to join with other attorneys and firms in Fresno County in providing the legal aid community with pro bono legal services by signing on to the Central Valley Pro Bono Outreach Project.
Central Valley Pro Bono
CentralValleyProBono.org is a joint project of Central California Legal Services (CCLS), OneJustice, and Pro Bono Net. Through this site, CCLS supports attorneys, law firms, and law students who donate their time and/or resources in providing legal assistance to low-income seniors, individuals, and families.
Individual attorneys and law firms can provide invaluable pro bono assistance to our clients every day through legal clinics and limited scope and direct representation on individual cases and actions involving major litigation.
About this site
CentralValleyProBono.org offers many resources through which volunteers can locate and connect with pro bono opportunities
The About section contains more information on the details of the challenge and links to pledge forms you can also join the site by clicking on any links titled "Click here to sign onto the challenge"
The Calendar section features upcoming events clinics and trainings especially designed for pro bono attorneys and students; you can search the calendar by date or geographical location.
The Volunteer Opportunities section describes the different volunteer opportunities available as well as the advantages and benefits that come with volunteering including recognition and training opportunities.
The Volunteer Resources section highlights the different resources support available for volunteers.
VLSP Pro Bono Volunteers Make a Difference
Pro bono attorneys working through the Voluntary Legal Services Program (VLSP) of Central California Legal Services Inc. (CCLS) are making a difference in the lives of low income persons in the Central San Joaquin Valley.
There is a growing “justice gap” in America between those who can afford to pay for legal services and low-income populations that cannot afford access to attorneys or the courts. In our own community, which as has some of the highest concentrations of poverty in the nation, there is an urgent need for legal services for vulnerable low-income populations such as the homeless veterans, seniors, victims of domestic violence, and the working poor.
Studies by the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) reveal that nationally there is, at best, one legal aid attorney for every 6,415 low-income persons. (In the general population there is one attorney delivering legal services for every 429 persons, or fourteen times more.) The result is that nationally, about 50 percent of low-income persons who request legal aid services are turned away for lack of program resources.
In Fresno, veterans and active military receive free civil legal services from pro bono attorneys and other volunteers through two legal clinics. The annual VLSP Stand Down Legal Clinic was held on September 16, 2015 at the VFW Post 8900 in Fresno. Volunteer Stand Down attorneys provided free legal consultations to veterans on many areas of law, including housing matters, estate planning, consumer debt, family law, and public benefits. In addition, pro bono attorneys also help veterans at new monthly legal clinic held on the third Wednesday of each month from 2:30-4:30 p.m. at the Fresno Vets Center, which has rotating legal topics including estate planning, workers’ rights, and expungement of criminal records. The monthly veterans’ clinic is conducted in partnership with the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center, OneJustice, Fresno Vets Center, and VLSP. Fresno City College Paralegal Studies Program volunteer interns also assist veterans at both legal clinics.
Project First Step is a collaborative program between Fresno County Women Lawyers, the Marjaree Mason Center, and VLSP to recruit, train, and support pro bono attorneys who represent domestic violence victims in court. Training for new volunteer attorneys, on how to represent domestic violence victims to obtain a permanent protection order, was held on October 16, 2015. McCormick Barstow LLP graciously hosted the training, providing free lunch and MCLE. Special recognition to Fresno Superior Court Presiding Family Law Judge Hon. D. Tyler Tharpe, and the Hon. Glenda Allen-Hill, for their participation in the training and support of Project First Step.
San Joaquin College of Law conducts an annual Senior Law Day event to educate seniors in the community about number of legal issues of importance to them. This year’s event was held on October 17, 2015 at the law school campus. Each year, VLSP hosts a Senior Law Day Legal Clinic where pro bono attorneys and SJCL law students assist seniors in the preparation of statutory wills, power of attorney, and advanced health care directive documents – all of which are prepared for free.
A Workers’ Rights Clinic is held on the third Tuesday of each month, from 6:30-8:30 p.m., at the CCLS offices in Fresno, Merced and Visalia. Volunteer attorneys provide free legal information and self-help options to workers about employment law and wage claim issues. Volunteer attorneys in Fresno have the ability to help rural workers in the Merced and Visalia CCLS offices via video conferencing, without the having to travel. The Workers’ Rights Clinic is a collaboration between the law firm Lang, Richert & Patch, the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center, the Mexican Consulate in Fresno, and VLSP.
VLSP thanks all of the volunteer attorneys, law students, and others who provide pro bono legal services, and/or financially support the delivery of free legal services, through their time, talent, and resources. Without your help, the “justice gap” in our community would be even greater – it is through your generosity that more of those who are the most vulnerable receive legal help, and hope.
For more information about VLSP and upcoming volunteer opportunities please contact Paul Carter Mullen, VLSP Supervising Attorney at (559) 570-1224 or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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