Header5a - RH
Issue: Vol 3 # 3/4   
March/April, 2011     
In This Issue
JFAB 2011 ...
Open the Door ...
Sign Up For A Clinic ...
Help for The Pro Se Litigant ...
JFAB 2011

   It's early, we know!  But, Fall will be here before you know it and so it's time to mark your calendars for the 23rd Annual Justice for All Ball. This year's event will be held on Friday, November 4, 2011, from 8:00 pm to midnight at the Audubon Tea Room.  

   Sponsorships for law firms and area businesses are also available by contacting Rachel Piercey at: JFAB 2011 or 504.581.4043. These packages include with tickets to the Ball and Patron Party, as well as various promotional opportunities.  Those on board by July 15th will be acknowledged in the printed invitation, which is mailed to more than 8,000 individuals locally and nationally.


  We're still working on other details of the event and so watch this space in coming issues of In Brief for more announcements  

Open the Door: Be A Partner for Pro Bono

LA Giving B&W

Please open the door for our clients and volunteers and support The Project by clicking on the Louisiana Giving logo above. 

Become a
Partner for Pro Bono
by checking the
"make this a recurring donation" box on The Project's donation page when you click the above link. Make your Annual Donation over 12 months.

 Help us plan for the future by contacting
Rachel PIercey at 504.581.4043 about the Pro Bono for Life Planned Giving program.

Sign Up For A Clinic

   Spring is a busy time for The Project.  Volunteers are needed to staff several clinics in the metro area.  For more information and exact locations, please download the complete schedule from: SPRING CLINIC SCHEDULE.    
Follow-up Links
JFAB 2010


     Not everyone wants to be represented by an attorney when  going to court -- some choose to represent themselves because they can't afford it and don't qualify for pro bono legal services, others want to have their say in court. But, no matter what the circumstances, even the pro se litigant needs some guidance. That's where the CDC's Self-Help Desk comes in, and once again it's the pro bono volunteer attorneys and law students who help to staff this desk every week.    


     Earlier this year, Adams & Reese hosted the first training for this program. A&R's Ronald Sholes, Esq. headed up that training and on April 8th, the firm will once again host a Self-Help Desk Training, see the details below.


     As many of you know, Chris Ralston, Esq., of Phelps Dunbar, is heading up the 2011 Justice For All Ball.  Along with Chris and his committee, The Project is pleased to announce that Lawrence and Marian GIbbs have agreed to serve as Honorary Co-Chairs for the event. Larry is founder and CEO of GIbbs Construction. The couple are great supporters of the non-profit community and we are especially excited to have them as Honorary Co-Chairs.   

Marquette Student Spring 2011
Spring Break for Marquette at The Project.


     The office has been busy during Winter and Spring breaks with law students from UNC and University of Illinois and most recently, from Marquette and Drake.  We put them to work helping out on family law, succession and Gulf Oil Spill claims.   


    And, speaking of the oil spill, The Project welcomes a new staff member, Jesse George, Esq. who came on board in early March as Oil Spill Case Manager. He'll be working with those needing assistance filing claims with the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, calculating the amount of damages and determining whether to accept a settlement offer or not. Welcome aboard, Jesse! 


      Coming up in April -- The Project's new Facebook page and more!  In the meantime, are you ready for French Quarter Fest, Easter and Jazz Fest?  

Happy celebrations, 


Rachel Piercey 

Executive Director

PS -- Spread the word about The Pro Bono Project by using the new social media buttons and connect this newsletter to your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media page. Thanks!  

Help for The Pro Se Litigant ...

     In Brief recently caught up with the Jonathan Rhodes from the LSBA's Access to Justice Program to talk about the Self-Help Resource Center. A training for this program is scheduled for Friday, April 8th beginning at noon in the Board Room on the 48th Floor at Adams & Reese in One Shell Square. REGISTER HERE.

When did the SHRC start, who started it and why? 


    The number of self-represented litigants in Louisiana creates significant challenges for courts in administering justice and for litigants in their access to justice.

     In an effort to address these issues, the LSBA Access to Justice Program, in partnership with Clerk of Court Dale Atkins, Orleans Civil District Court (CDC) Division "A" Judge Tiffany Chase, the Louisiana Civil Justice Center, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, and The Pro Bono Project, implemented a Self-Help Resource Center (SHRC) for pro se litigants at the Orleans Civil District Court (CDC) in September 2010. 


How many volunteer lawyers have contributed time and effort to getting it up and running and from where are they coming?


SHRC Training Group 2011
SHRC Training at Adams & Reese in January 2011. Photo by Tommy Santora.

Since the inception of the Self Help Resource Center, volunteer lawyers and law students have dedicated more than 400 hours of service.

     The Pro Bono Project took the lead in coordinating volunteers with attorneys from Adams & Reese, Phelps Dunbar and Jones Walker. Law students from both Tulane and Loyola volunteer, and the Loyola Family Law Clinic runs the desk on Fridays.   


How many people has the SHRC served to date and what types of legal issues are addressed?


     The desk is open on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10am-12pm and 1pm-3pm, and on Fridays from 10am-12pm. The desk has served more than 100 visitors with a range of legal issues.


     The most common issues for which help was sought were domestic issues, including protective orders, domestic violence, custody, visitation, child support and spousal support. While litigants are encouraged to have an attorney represent them, financial limitations prevent many from securing counsel.


     Although 50% of visitors reported being self-represented because they cannot afford an attorney, more than 65% of visitors reported being gainfully employed. This data suggests that the visitors to the SHRC are among the city's working poor, whose financial situation makes it difficult or impossible to afford adequate legal services.


     Importantly, SHRC volunteers do not give legal advice, but assist visitors by providing them with access to legal information and referrals.


     Overall, our data collection indicates that the pilot project was successful in meeting the needs and expectations of self-represented litigants, with 68% of visitors reporting that they were able to find the information they were seeking at the SHRC and 95% of visitors reporting that they were satisfied with the services they received.   


What's the best way for someone to get involved if they are  interested?


     Attorneys should contact The Pro Bono Project to volunteer at: SHRC or 504.581.4043. Law students can sign up for shifts through their school's public interest coordinator.


SHRC: Valuable Experience & More 


     "I think the self-help desk provided an invaluable learning experience for me, says Adams & Reese associate, Katie Wollfarth.


    "It is a good opportunity for a young lawyer to learn how the CDC works, how filing works, and to get to know the judges and their staff from an insider's perspective, rather than from the perspective of a hired advocate.  In addition to that advantage, one gets personal fulfillment by being able to help someone less fortunate with simple legal tasks, which may seem confusing to the average layperson."


     Young attorneys are not the only ones getting valuable experience. Law students are also getting the benefits of working with clients and at the CDC.  As well, they are being trained by private bar attorneys who are volunteering their time to conduct periodic training sessions and who are also on the job at the desk. 


     "We were really busy yesterday afternoon with a name change and three divorces, including one covenant marriage, which was new for me.  I wanted you to know that Mr. Sholes (Ron Sholes, Adams & Reese) was one of the best teachers I've had.  He really took the time to teach and wanted me to take the lead on writing petitions and doing the research.  It was a pleasure working with him," explains Tulane 3L student, Meredith Bambrick.  


     The Self-Help Resource Center is a key component in access to justice, benefitting not only the pro se litigants, who rely on this valuable resource but also for the young attorneys, law students and veteran attorneys to gain hands-on experience, from lasting relationships and do something to give back to the community in which they live.


     For more information or to volunteer for the SHRC, please contact Rachel Piercey at The Project via email or at 504.581.4043.  


Our Mission

The Pro Bono Project's mission is to provide free, quality civil legal services to the poor by engaging volunteer attorneys to render pro bono services.
  The Project serves Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Tammany and Washington Parishes with funding from the Justice For All Ball and other sources.  The Project works in collaboration with other legal and social service providers to improve the quality of life for our clients and our community.