Opportunities for Pro Bono Service During the Pandemic
Tennessee is a leader in promoting access to justice and there are countless opportunities for pro bono service across the state. Though social distancing limits our ability to meet in person, there are still ways to volunteer to support low-income and vulnerable Tennesseans in need of civil legal assistance.
We are sharing some options for finding your pro bono passion and always welcome hearing more about legal assistance opportunities you know about. Below are some of the local and statewide projects and providers just waiting to connect with you, with updated notes about how to connect and serve during this pandemic.
Remote Legal Clinics (Phone or Video)
For those looking for a traditional pro bono clinic experience, legal aid organizations, bar associations, law schools and the Tennessee Access to Justice Commission support standing legal clinics throughout the year. Some clinics are open for a variety of civil legal issues, while others focus on a particular area of law or client population. While in-person clinics may be on hold, many organizations have shifted to phone or video-based events.
Most legal aid organizations have updated their websites with information related to resources and responses for COVID-19. More information is available on the organizations' websites, listed below.
TN Free Legal Answers
For some attorneys, a better option is volunteering remotely and responding to client questions via email. Fortunately, Tennessee Free Legal Answers provides a way for attorneys to review, select and research legal questions posed by low-income clients. These questions are screened and categorized, making it simple to find and answer questions in a variety of areas.
The website Help4TN.org and a toll-free telephone hotline at 888-HELP4TN or (888) 395-9297 offer information and access to referrals and legal advice for Tennesseans in need.
Nonprofit Leadership & Community Education
Many lawyers serve the community through leadership roles with a nonprofit organization or bar association or by providing public education and outreach on legal topics. The TBA and local bars, as well as legal and community service organizations, develop educational materials, deliver presentations and frequently have openings on their boards and other governing and leadership groups. With so many resources shifting to online and remote responses, there is still a need to develop materials and presentations and support outreach to get information out to those in need.
Legal Service Organizations in Tennessee
There are more than a dozen legal aid organizations in Tennessee. Some organizations are statewide while others are geographically focused; many address a variety of civil legal issues and others concentrate on a particular issue or client population.
Many groups have updated their websites with specific services and pro bono opportunities during the pandemic.
More information about these and other pro bono opportunities is available on the TBA website at www.tba.org/Pro_Bono
Legal Service Corporation (LSC) Regional Organizations
• Volunteer Lawyers & Professionals for the Arts (The Arts & Business Council)
Contact the TBA Access to Justice Committee
Please stay in touch with the TBA Access to Justice Committee with updates about pro bono projects and as you have questions or need more information about any of the projects and organizations discussed here. Contact TBA ATJ Director Liz Todaro at firstname.lastname@example.org.