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Ask a Lawyer Program Policy and Procedures

Page history last edited by Joan Bellistri 1 year, 3 months ago

approved by the Local Pro Bono Committee, February 29, 2012 and amended 9/23/2015   - please see Procedures for Remote Lawyer in the Library for current procedures for remote program.


Program Policy


Volunteer Requirements


Volunteers must be admitted to the Maryland Bar and in good standing on the Client Security Trust Fund list.

MVLS provides malpractice insurance for all volunteer attorneys and credits attorneys with pro bono hours for participating in the Lawyer in the Library Program.




A "binder" of referrals will be made available for the volunteer attorneys via the wiki (@http://aacpll.pbworks.com/w/page/70839805/referrals2)  


The program exists to provide free legal advice and should not be considered as a means of finding new clients for volunteer attorneys.


Low income clients in need of representation should be referred to MVLS, if appropriate, or to the resources listed on the Referrals page.  MVLS provides qualifying information at their website: http://mvlslaw.org/get-legal-help/.  More details on MVLS Guidelines are here: MVLS Guidelines.pdf  Clients who want to hire an attorney should be referred to the AABA Lawyers Referral Service.  (Please note: Clients should not be told to visit the AABA offices for referrals.  The AABA LRS is a phone based service.)


Program Procedures


Ask a Lawyer in the Library: Step-by-Step Procedures


Client Sign Up - 


There is no sign-up until 15 minutes before the program start time.  At that time,  clients can put their names in the "basket."  At the program start time, names are pulled from the basket and meeting slots with the attorney are assigned in the order in which the names are drawn and recorded on the sign-in sheet.  (However, if someone wants to put their name in earlier, they can, but it must be made clear that it will have no bearing on when they see the attorney.)


The date, the name of the attorney and the attorney's start and end times should be recorded on  the top of the sheet.  A brief list with descriptions of the client issues should be made at the bottom of the sheet or on a separate sheet.  Clients should be asked what brings them to the program as they sign-up by putting their name in the basket.  If it is a family or criminal matter they should be referred to the Family Self Help Center or the Office of the Public Defender.





As clients sign in, i.e., put their names in the basket, they will be given the Agreement for Limited Legal Adviceand the MVLS  Intake Form.  These forms should be returned to the information desk for review. It is important that household size and monthly income, in addition to the personal contact information, be filled in.  If it is not, the client cannot see the attorney. We will keep the forms until the lottery.


Limited Advice Agreement


With the agreement, they should be given a brief description of its contents and instructed to read and sign before meeting with the attorney.  They will be also instructed to have the attorney sign the agreement as well and to bring the signed copy to the information desk at the end of the session so that a copy can be made for the client.  One copy is kept on file in the law library.  Copies will be made for the volunteer attorney upon request. (Two copies of the agreement should be used if there is no access to a copy machine.)


MVLS  Intake Form


Each client will be given an Intake form with the Agreement for Limited Legal Advice. The intake form should be filled out and will be given to the attorney.  It should be returned to the information desk with the Agreement for Limited Legal Advice at the end of the session.  The attorney should have filled out the bottom of the Intake Sheet.




Attorney Volunteers and Schedule


Reminders should be sent via email to the scheduled volunteer or volunteer firm on Monday.


If a firm cannot send someone on scheduled day the library should be notified as soon as possible so that a replacement attorney can be found.


Volunteers should stay in the library until the scheduled end of the program. 


Statistics and Records


The number of clients, hours the attorney volunteered and whether this was the first time that the attorney volunteered should be entered in the spreadsheet @J:\Library\AACPLL SRL & Self help\stats pro bono and on the wiki page Ask a Lawyer Pro Bono Stats.  If it is the first time an attorney had volunteered, a "1" should be entered in the "ATTY" column.


     NA REMOTE - Forms -  After the program, both forms will be scanned to the Librarians email and then emailed to MVLS.T he sign up sheet and signed agreements are stapled together and filed in the program notebook.   


Program Marketing/Advertising


Court website http://www.circuitcourt.org/component/content/article/113 


Law Library brochure (upload and link)


Flyers/Posters in Law Library, Court Departments, Public Libraries (insert contact, #'s etc.)


Newspaper notices periodically to the Capital and Anne Arundel Sun (insert contact information)


Wiki use


All volunteer attorneys are encouraged to add helpful information to the wiki (or request that it be added).


Instructions for adding to the wiki:


Add to or edit a page:
use “edit” tab at the top of the page

Create a page:  http://usermanual.pbworks.com/w/page/11632059/Creating%20Pages

Import a document to become a page:

More information in the PBWorks Manual:



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