Nov. 18, 2020 – So, you want to volunteer and give back. You want to make a difference.
You are not alone. Lawyers have specialized skills and an exclusive license to help people resolve their legal issues.
With a rise in legal issues stemming from the pandemic – unemployment benefits, unlawful evictions, and domestic violence, to name a few – the need for pro bono work has never been greater.
But finding the right way or the right opportunity to put your talents to work as a volunteer can be a challenge.
The Opportunity Portal
The State Bar of Wisconsin now has a new solution that can help: the new State Bar of Wisconsin Pro Bono Portal, powered by Paladin. The portal opens Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020.
In partnership with the legal tech innovators at Paladin, the State Bar is committed to making it easier to find the volunteer work you want to do.
“Lawyers want to help, and pro bono programs all over the state need volunteers. At a time when so many of us are working remotely, it’s that much harder to meet and connect with groups that are looking for volunteers,” said Jeff Brown, State Bar pro bono manager. “This is a natural solution to help make it easier for the two to connect with one another.”
Through this new portal, we are also making it easier for legal services organizations around the state to share their pro bono opportunities with both lawyers and law students.
What you will see (starting Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020) is an easy-to-use online, centralized portal where our participating legal services organizations can post their pro bono opportunities.
You can browse and sort the listed opportunities to find ones that fit your skills, interests, and level of commitment. Connecting with a listed opportunity is as simple as clicking a link and then filling out a short form that generates an email to the organization that posted the matter. From there, the volunteers and the organization can connect with one another directly.
The State Bar coordinates the portal, and provides free access to participating pro bono programs to post their volunteer opportunities. There is also no cost to lawyers or law firms to participate by viewing or responding to these pro bono opportunities.
“The State Bar’s goal is to improve access to justice in Wisconsin. Achieving this goal depends in part on supporting and expanding our members’ volunteer efforts. While we can’t remove all the barriers to access to justice alone, we are an essential part of the solution,” said Brown. “Paladin’s software helps us make it easier for lawyer to find the right pro bono opportunity. It’s going to become an increasingly important piece of our pro bono infrastructure in Wisconsin.”
Benefits of the Pro Bono Portal
Efficiency – Having one place where you can go to browse through available pro bono opportunities is simpler than having multiple organizations calling and emailing you. This portal is a one-stop-shop for pro bono.
Reach – Using the website will give you a broader insight into the full range of volunteer opportunities that are available.
Impact – Participating legal services organizations all serve low-income and vulnerable populations. You can be confident that your volunteer service is making a difference for someone in need.
Filtering – It’s easy to find the right opportunities based on your preferences, skills, and availability.
Commitment – You can easily find an opportunity that matches your availability.
Launching Nov. 19
Check out the Pro Bono Opportunity Portal Website at wisbar.org/probonoportal on or after Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020, to navigate this brand new platform. No training time necessary – the site makes it easy to track the latest pro bono needs around the state.
Programs seeking be listed the portal should contact Jeff Brown. “Twelve programs are already signed up, and more will be added soon,” he said.
Questions? Contact Jeff Brown, State Bar pro bono manager, via email.
50 or More Pro Bono Hours in 2020? Certify for Pro Bono Honor Society
If you donate 50 or more hours of qualifying pro bono legal services to benefit low-income Wisconsin residents in 2020, you qualify as a member of the Wisconsin Pro Bono Honor Society – certify your service by Feb. 28, 2021.
The Wisconsin Pro Bono Honor Society, created by the Access to Justice Commission with support from the State Bar of Wisconsin, recognizes Wisconsin lawyers who volunteer at least 50 hours of their time annually to help expand access to justice for low-income Wisconsin residents.
Lawyers may self-certify that they qualify for Pro Bono Honor Society status based on their service in 2020. In addition, others who have knowledge of the attorney’s pro bono work – such as law firms, pro bono programs, legal aid organizations, and judges – may submit a certification for an attorney.
To certify service, use the online form on the Pro Bono Honor Society webpage.