The Pro Bono Project enables Legal Counsel for the Elderly to provide comprehensive legal services to low-income, older people by recruiting attorneys who willingly contribute their valuable time to pro bono work. The Pro Bono Project handles approximately 600 cases annually. These cases come to the Pro Bono Project through LCE's Legal Hotline, LCE in-house staff attorneys and the Active Intake Project.
Scores of underserved seniors would be denied access to free legal services without the help of our dedicated pro bono attorneys. We count on our volunteer attorneys in the community to help us reach those in need.
Legal Counsel for the Elderly (LCE) first created the Pro Bono Project in 1977 under a grant from the Legal Services Corporation. LCE no longer relies on the Legal Services Corporation. AARP now sponsors LCE and also receives significant funding from the District of Columbia Office on Aging (DCOA).
The Pro Bono Project handles a multitude of civil legal issues affecting older D.C. residents with limited means, such as ensuring that seniors receive public benefits (Social Security, Medicaid, food stamps, etc.) or by preventing eviction or foreclosure of their homes through negotiation or court litigation.
LCE attorneys and staff first screen all cases to help ensure that they have legal merit and are well developed. Then, the Pro Bono Project refers these cases to private sector and government attorneys who have agreed to handle them on a pro bono basis. Our volunteers and staff periodically monitor these cases until closure.
We almost always have a waiting list of seniors seeking wills and health care and financial powers of attorney. The Pro Bono Project provides all volunteer attorneys who accept wills and advance directives with resources, including model forms for wills and powers of attorney, instruction and interview sheets, as well as a will execution checklist. These matters generally take much less time to complete than other types of cases that the Pro Bono Project handles.
Benefits for Pro Bono Attorneys
By giving back to clients in need, you will obtain considerable personal and professional benefits. You will receive a well-developed case and have the opportunity to work directly with a low-income senior in the District of Columbia to improve his or her quality of life. Our pro bono attorneys consistently report that they find their pro bono work to be immensely rewarding — and often among their crowning professional achievements.
You will benefit professionally by having direct client interaction, refining your client interview, negotiation and litigation skills, and deepening your knowledge of areas of law. These advocacy skills that you may gain through your pro bono work will be useful throughout your legal career.
Helping others who could not otherwise receive access to equal justice is a strong value and tradition in the legal profession. The District of Columbia’s Rules of Professional Conduct strongly encourage attorneys to perform a designated number of pro bono hours each year. Legal Counsel for the Elderly's pro bono work will count toward those recommended hours.
Moreover, LCE's Pro Bono Project's work will count toward the prestigious "Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll," which recognizes individual private and government attorneys who have provided at least 50 hours pro bono work – or 100 hours or more for higher recognition – within the calendar year.