What is the Volunteer Lawyers Project?
The Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP) provides high-quality legal services to low-income citizens in seven southwest Ohio counties: Brown, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Hamilton, Highland, and Warren. The VLP recruits private attorneys to handle at least two pro bono cases each year. Cases handled by Volunteer Lawyers are common to a general civil practice and may require anything from one hour of work to full-scale representation.
Established in 1982 through a joint effort of the Cincinnati Bar Association and the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati, the VLP was created in response to the steadily growing gap between the number of requests for services from low-income citizens and Legal Aid Society’s limited capacity to provide these services. Today, the Volunteer Lawyers Project serves as pro bono arm of, and is co-sponsored by, the Cincinnati and Butler, Clermont, Clinton, and Warren County Bar Associations.
While the largest percentage of VLP cases involves family law issues, the VLP refers cases across the spectrum of civil legal matters, including housing, estate, consumer, and immigration-related problems. The sign up sheet, sets forth all of the legal areas in which VLP lawyers are involved. If you are interested in volunteering with the VLP, please download the form and return to the VLP office.
VLP clients are identified by the Legal Aid Society through its intake process. The Pro Bono Coordinator refers clients and provides background information to Volunteer Lawyers. The VLP supplies backup support from experienced Legal Aid attorneys and paralegals, as well as the VLP managing attorney. In addition, the Project provides malpractice insurance at no cost to cover Volunteer Lawyers while they are handling VLP referrals, and also provides funds to cover litigation expenses. Annually, the VLP sponsors CLE seminars – free to participating attorneys – covering a variety of issues.
The VLP allows attorneys to represent low-income persons whose cases have merit, but which might otherwise be lost due to their inability to pay for counsel and the resulting inadequate self-representation. The Volunteer Lawyers Project has made a difference for thousands of low-income clients in southwestern Ohio, and bringing the concept of equal justice for all a bit closer to reality.
The VLP office staff:
Virginia Conlan Whitman, Managing Attorney: email
Rhonda King, Pro Bono Coordinator: email
Ron Rigby, Legal Assistant: email
Daveen Knue, VLP Intern/Public Ally