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Creative Solutions to Your Pro Bono Clients’ Problems : 

Creative Solutions to Your Pro Bono Clients’ Problems Kathlyn G. Perez and Erin E. Pelleteri Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC 201 St. Charles Ave., Suite 3600 New Orleans, Louisiana 70170 504.566.5200 February 8, 2011

The Need for Pro Bono Representation : 

The Need for Pro Bono Representation According to an American Bar Association study, at least 40% of low and moderate-income households experience a legal problem each year. Yet studies show that the collective civil legal aid effort is meeting only about 20% of the legal needs of low-income people.

Reservations to Taking Pro Bono Cases : 

Reservations to Taking Pro Bono Cases Time Commitment Case is Outside Your Area(s) of Expertise Unsure of what your client is expecting Want it to be a meaningful use of your time

Slide 4: 

“Problems cannot be solved by thinking within the framework that problems were created.” Albert Einstein

Unique Qualities of Lawyers : 

Unique Qualities of Lawyers Lawyers are trained to identify, understand and resolve problems: Advanced Education Knowledge of the law and the court system Resources (your firm, network of attorneys, HELP, Solace) Trained to think strategically Trained to negotiate and think creatively Credibility in the community

Lawyers Wear Many Hats : 

Lawyers Wear Many Hats Advocate Counselor Social Worker Neutral Party Therapist Information Gatherer

Tips for Making Your Pro Bono Representation Successful : 

Tips for Making Your Pro Bono Representation Successful Do not accept multiple pro bono clients at one time. Define the scope of work before accepting the case and make clear that you do not represent them for any and all issues. Make clear that you only represent them for the specified scope through an engagement letter. Let them know that they should not refer other people to you without your permission.

What Does Your Client Really Want? : 

What Does Your Client Really Want? Pro bono clientsfrequently have personalissues that can be resolvedwithout the need to go tocourt. Also, there are instanceswhere the law is not on yourclients’ side and comingup with a creative solutioncan help your client getwhat they want.

The Pitfalls of Litigation : 

The Pitfalls of Litigation Litigation is not always the best solution, especially in the pro- bono context. Costly Time consuming Can take an emotional toll on an already vulnerable client Can be personally embarrassing The solutions fashioned by the Courts are often unsatisfactory.

Steps to DetermineWhat You Can Do For Your Client : 

Steps to DetermineWhat You Can Do For Your Client State your ground rules up front, just as you would with any paying client. Conduct a client interview Ask what the client is looking for in your representation Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their case Provide an informal budget (of time and money) Evaluate your time constraints realistically

Conducting a Meaningful Client Interview : 

Conducting a Meaningful Client Interview Meet with the client face to face – consider meeting somewhere other than your office (coffee shop, Pro Bono Project offices, McDonald’s). Set aside enough time to really prepare and meet with the client. Come with documents that need to be signed (engagement letter, PBP card, etc.) Figure out best way to communicate with client moving forward. Start thinking creatively from the beginning – including how you phrase your questions. Consider additional things you might be able to easily do for your client that even they might not have thought about.

Processing the Client Interview : 

Processing the Client Interview Identify the problem: Is there more that one problem? Is it part of a larger problem? What should be addressed first? What interests are involved? Is it a long term or short term problem? Who does it harm? What are our objectives? Whose help do we need to identify the problem? Understand the Problem: Who is responsible for the problem? How could it have been prevented? Who/what are the obstacles? What other facts are needed? What are the issues of law? Analyze the Problem: Should it be fixed? If so, how? Through what process? Who/what should be involved in the process? How should it begin and concluded? Solve the Problem: What is the best solution? What are the trade offs? Who/what benefits? What must be done to implement?

Thinking Outside the Box : 

Thinking Outside the Box General advices Letter Writing Phone Calls Advocacy Navigate the System Use of common legal forms, such as affidavits. Collaborative negotiation

Collaborative Negotiation : 

Collaborative Negotiation Setting the ground rules Separate the people from the problem Separate positions from interests Create options for mutual gain Look for appropriate criteria or standards

Options for Mutual Gain : 

Options for Mutual Gain Avoid premature judgment Do not look for a single solution Do not assume a “fixed pie” Separate creating options from deciding between them, eliminate only options that will not work Keep options broad Search for mutual goals Look for ways of making the decision easy

Implementing the Agreement : 

Implementing the Agreement Get both parties to agree how they will implement the agreement. (Who does what by when?) Formalize the agreement in writing and include time to check back to see if agreement is working If the agreement does not work, get parties to agree to meet at least once more to try to come up with a solution. Have at least a verbal acknowledgement by all parties that they assisted with coming up with the agreement and that they are going to abide by it.

Discuss. :