Services We Provide
The Pro Bono Project works with pro bono lawyers in many different civil legal service areas to meet the needs of the clients in the six parishes we serve.
The Project specifically works in key areas of the law on an ongoing basis. We add services in response to an increasing need in the community, especially in the event of a disaster. The civil legal service areas for which we currently provide pro bono services are:
Consumer Rights and Contracts
In these challenging economic times, more and more people seek relief from mounting debt and the unrelenting, hostile practices of debt collectors. Many turn to The Pro Bono Project to find out what rights they have and what remedies are available to protect themselves from prededatory creditors.
The Project’s volunteer attorneys help clients with:
- Consumer protection issues
- Interpretation of contracts and defense when creditors threaten suit
- Managing debt
- Chapter 7 personal bankruptcies
This program is funded in part by a grant from the American College of Bankruptcy and its Foundation.
Family Safety and Stability
Family dynamics can be complex and challenging. The Project is there to help families achieve the best legal resolution.
Volunteer lawyers provide legal help for:
- Uncontested divorces
- Uncontested child custody matters
- Modification of child support obligations based on changed circumstances
- Intra-family adoptions, in which the adopting adult is related to the child within certain degrees
- Tutorships for minors
- Interdictions for adults
- Name changes for both adults and children
- Child In Need of Care
Employment and Wage Issues
The Project has been instrumental in protecting the rights of workers.
The same unscrupulous contractors who fleeced countless homeowners also let their workers go unpaid for weeks and months.
Many employees were non-English speakers who often did not understand the nature of the work they had agreed to perform or what they were being paid. When they complained, they often were turned over to the Immigration Service, a ruse that freed unscrupulous employers from having to pay back wages.
Whenever a worker’s rights are violated, regardless of the industry, The Pro Bono Project provides help in pursuing back wages owed.
In 2008 The Pro Bono Project was awarded the prestigious Frances Perkins Public Service Award by the ABA's Section of Labor and Employment Law for its Employment and Wage Claim program.
Nonprofit Governance Assistance
Nonprofit growth and development is an area our volunteer attorneys love working in. Many of our volunteers work in commercial practices where this skill-set is an advantage. If you are seeking to develop a nonprofit or you need your nonprofit by-laws updated, please complete an intake form. The Pro Bono Project volunteers are here to help!
Many people do not have the necessary legal documents to manage their affairs when they are incapacitated or pass away. Lack of planning may lead to problems for those left behind, especially in relation to the transferance of real property.
To help clients plan for the future, our volunteers:
- Work on title issues related to inheriting property
- Draft wills for the disposition of property after death
- Develop living wills, which specify how much medical intervention the client desires if he/she is close to death
- Draft a health care power of attorney enabling a person to choose someone to make medical decisions on his/her behalf
- Provide general or specific powers of attorney to appoint someone to manage all or some of a client’s affairs
Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Isaac brought severe damage to homes throughout the metropolitan area. Unfortunately, they also brought unscrupulous contractors and others seeking to take advantage of those suffering in the wake of the storm’s wrath.
These fly-by-night business owners often took hurricane victims’ insurance or Road Home money and then either refused to complete the work or performed it so badly that it had to be redone.
Many residents also became victims of heartless landlords who took their rent and provided sub-standard apartments and services.
The Project works with clients to:
- File lawsuits against unscrupulous housing contractors either to make them complete the work properly or to return insurance or Road Home funds collected for incomplete or shoddy work
- Protect tenants’ rights against unfair housing practices by landlords
- Complete succession paperwork to provide clear title to real estate for collection of insurance or Road Home funds
In addition, because of the special problems of homeowners in Orleans Parish, The Pro Bono Project, in partnership with several other organizations, received a special grant from the Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF) to help Orleans Parish homeowners with more complex problems related to:
- Title issues, including liens and judgments against the property
- Tutorships and interdictions to manage the property of minors and incompetents
- Transfer of property ownership to those who want to maintain and repair the property and continue living in Orleans Parish.
Some civil law cases defy easy categorization. The Pro Bono Project and its volunteer lawyers are there to help with matters as diverse as:
- Assisting with pension issues
- Reviewing real estate transactions
- Obtaining new birth certificates
- Non-profit incorporations
- Tax questions
- Tort defense
In fact, The Pro Bono Project can offer support with almost any civil non-fee generating type of case in which our volunteers have the expertise and the interest.
As residents of Louisiana continue to rebuild after the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Isaac, disputes with dishonest or incompetent contractors, many not licensed to do business, have continued to increase. Many of these claims are for breach of contract, negligence and fraud. The Project assists clients in finding a volunteer who can advocate for them during the construction process to see that their contractual rights are observed, or can bring suit to recover damages for shoddy or unfinished work.