Pro Bono Attorney Program
I. Introduction to Defenders of Children
Founded in 2007, Defenders of Children is a Phoenix-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides free legal and clinical behavioral health services to low-income children and their families throughout Arizona, with an emphasis on promoting healing and access to justice for child survivors of family violence.
Our Legal Department offers a wide range of services, including full representation in court, advice and counsel, legal document preparation, and other brief services. We also provide training to community partners and educational programs to the general public.
II. Purpose of the Pro Bono Program
Given the prevalence of family violence within our communities, Defenders of Children lacks the internal capacity to meet the incredible demand for our services, which is why we developed a Pro Bono Attorney Program (“the Program”).
The purpose of the Program is to expand our reach to children and families whom we would otherwise be unable to serve while providing experienced attorneys with an opportunity to contribute their time and expertise to protecting and promoting the safety of low-income children.
III. Program Services
The legal services provided by attorneys who participate in the Program vary on a case-by-case basis, according to the needs of each client and the preferences and availability of each attorney.
Attorneys may participate in the Program in any of the following ways:
- By taking on a client’s case as one of their own (as if it were any other kind of referral), whether in limited scope or otherwise, but while expressly agreeing not to charge any fees to the client
- By co-counseling with a Defenders of Children attorney;
- By providing a consultation to a client;
- By preparing a legal document for a client;
- By providing any other brief service (demand letter, phone call, legal research, etc.) to a client; and/or
- By taking on an appellate matter.
Substantive areas of the law in which pro bono attorneys can assist clients of Defenders of Children include, but are not limited to, family law, juvenile law, civil rights law, education law, immigration law, health law, public benefits law, landlord/tenant law, employment law, and consumer law.
IV. Program Administration
Although the Program operates with the support of the Arizona Bar Foundation, the Program is managed exclusively by the Legal Department of Defenders of Children.
V. Program Requirements
A. Free Services
Being what Rule 38(d) of the Rules of Supreme Court of Arizona calls an “approved legal services organization,” Defenders of Children cannot charge for our legal services. However, we are entitled to request and recover attorneys’ fees, so long as we use those fees to continue to provide free legal services to low-income clients.
Pursuant to Rule 38(d)(2)(E), any attorneys’ fees sought and obtained by an attorney while the attorney is participating in the Program must be awarded to Defenders of Children. However, an attorney who participates in the Program may seek and obtain an award to recover their costs.
To participate in the Program, an attorney must be an active member in good standing of the State Bar of Arizona (or certified by the Supreme Court of Arizona to provide pro bono legal services pursuant to Rule 38(d)(2)) and remain in compliance with all MCLE reporting requirements.
Any attorney who wishes to participate in the Program must submit a Pro Bono Attorney Program Application (see below).
Upon the Legal Department’s approval of the Application, the Legal Department will coordinate with the attorney regarding next steps.
All attorneys who participate in the Program must complete a brief (one-hour) introduction to trauma-informed lawyering before they assist their first client.
VII. Program Benefits
A. Professional Fulfillment
Attorneys who participate in the Program have the unique opportunity to draw on their skills and experience to help protect low-income kids. Program participants invariably find that the assistance they provide to clients of Defenders of Children is among the most satisfying and rewarding of their entire career.
B. Malpractice Insurance
While participating in the Program and assisting clients of Defenders of Children, attorneys are covered free of charge by professional liability insurance provided by the Arizona Bar Foundation.
C. Public Recognition
An attorney whose Application is approved by the Legal Department and subsequently attests to having completed the mandatory introduction to trauma-informed lawyering is automatically added (unless otherwise requested) to our Pro Bono Attorney Program Roster, which appears on our website as well as in our quarterly newsletter.
Any attorney who actively helps a Defenders of Children client also becomes eligible for additional recognition as the winner one of our annual “Pro Bono Defender of Children” awards.
VIII. Additional Information
For additional information about the Program, please contact David J. Newstone, Esq., Director of Legal Services, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 602.710.1903.