Volunteer Programs

We welcome and have volunteer opportunities for attorneys, paralegals, law school interns, and other non-attorney positions.

The Volunteer Legal Services Program (VLSP) recruits and supports the work of volunteer attorneys and law students who provide pro bono legal assistance to low-income individuals and families in Central California. VLSP provides volunteers with legal training, mentoring, case management, free malpractice insurance, and other services to facilitate their delivery of free legal services. Learn more about how you can make a difference and advance justice in our communities – join today!

Volunteer attorneys can have bar dues waived, and free MCLE and malpractice insurance

Eligible attorneys licensed in California can apply to the Pro Bono Practice Program of the State Bar of California to maintain active license status for the delivery of volunteer legal services when they are not engaged in private (for profit) law practice. This is an excellent opportunity for retired attorneys and those on extended family leave to do pro bono work without having to pay bar dues! Free MCLE and malpractice insurance is provided. Contact us to learn more.

Spotlight: George Leavell, Esq.

Why Does an IP Attorney Volunteer at a Free Senior Legal Clinic?

 

It wasn’t because these seniors needed help with their patent applications! I enjoyed the opportunity to help a couple of local seniors address their estate plans at the recent CCLS Senior Legal Clinic in Merced. My two clients had “modest” estates. They had questions. They had concerns. They wanted to make sure their heirs understood what was needed and what they wanted. They were genuinely concerned about what will happen when they pass from this mortal realm. They wanted to make sure their passing caused the least amount of disruption to their family’s lives. But they did not know … what they did not know. They needed a little professional guidance and help.

Sure, their issues were relatively simple and not very challenging, professionally. But… It was FUN to help them! It was GRATIFYING to be able to allay some of their doubts and fears! The BEST part, was the relief and smiles on their faces that “someone” heard their concerns and was willing and able to help them! Giving them a reason to smile is one of the best parts of being an attorney. The knowledge and opportunity to help someone else is a great combination! It is good for your psyche. I challenge you to help make the world just a little better place!

George Leavell is a California intellectual property attorney in Dos Palos, California and the Treasurer of the Merced County Bar Association. Re-printed courtesy of the MCBA Newsletter, March 2017.

Join Us As A Volunteer

You can help as a volunteer attorney. Individual attorneys and law firms provide invaluable pro bono assistance to low-income individuals and families in Central California.

General Civil Representation and Project First Step

We seek licensed California attorneys to represent low-income clients in many types of civil legal matters. Some cases will require only limited scope representation, so you can balance your pro bono commitment with your private practice. Attorneys volunteering with Project First Step provide critical assistance to domestic violence victims and their families.

Mentoring & Co-counseling

CCLS connects seasoned volunteers with passionate new legal aid attorneys, and prospective volunteers with experienced CCLS staff – to create collaborative litigation and advocacy opportunities that achieve impactful results for client communities.

Law Clinics

Volunteers in our law clinics can easily plan their pro bono activities on scheduled dates, times and locations, where they can assist multiple low-income clients in a single clinic session. Volunteers provide legal information, advice, and brief services on these and other important legal topics:

  • Guardianship of Minors
  • Worker’s Rights
  • Veteran Legal Services
  • Senior Estate Planning & Elder Financial Abuse Prevention
  • Tenant Rights & Eviction Defense Assistance

Maximize Your Impact. Volunteer at a Clinic.

Guardianship Clinic (Fresno County)

In partnership with the Fresno County Superior Court, you can help pro per litigants obtain court guardianship of a minor child. The clinics are held on the 1st and 3rd Friday of each month at the B.F. Sisk Courthouse (in the Soley Conference Room at the Self-Help Center); volunteers guide petitioners through orientation, and the guardianship process.

Workers’ Rights Clinic (Fresno-Merced-Visalia)

On the 3rd Tuesday of each month except for December (no clinic), volunteer attorneys and law students provide legal information to low-wage workers on a variety of issues, including: unpaid wages, unemployment insurance, discrimination, wrongful termination, medical leave and more. Prior employment law experience is not required – CCLS provides free MCLE training and supervision. Volunteers can provide services to workers in the Merced and Visalia CCLS offices in person, or by videoconference.

Fresno Vet Center & Stand Down Legal Clinics

Senior Estate Planning Legal Clinic, 3rd Wednesday of each month: Legal advice and preparation of California statutory wills, powers of attorney, and advanced health care directives for senior veterans (excludes trusts and complex estate planning).

Criminal Records Expungement Clinic, 3rd Thursday of each month: Legal information and assistance to obtain clearance of eligible criminal records, including seeking relief under Prop. 47 and 64 (if applicable).

Senior Estate Planning & Elder Financial Abuse Prevention

Seniors and their families benefit from the peace of mind that comes from understanding the basics of estate and end-of-life planning. Volunteers draft simple wills, and powers of attorney and advance health care directives, so seniors can choose a trusted agent to help with their financial and medical decisions. Clinics are held on various dates and times that serve clients (age 60+) throughout the CCLS service area.

Fresno Court Tenant / Landlord Housing Project

In partnership with the Fresno County Superior Court, volunteer attorneys and law students provide self-represented low-income tenants (and eligible landlords) with legal information about the unlawful detainer (eviction) process and how to complete court documents. Clinic sessions are held in the Fresno County Superior Court (B.F. Sisk Courthouse) on most Tuesdays and Thursdays. All legal services, including those provided by volunteers, are supervised by CCLS staff attorneys. Housing law training and free MCLE credit are available.

Pro Bono Attorney Practice Program

Eligible attorneys licensed in California can apply to the Pro Bono Practice Program of the State Bar of California to maintain “active” license status for the delivery of volunteer legal services when they are not engaged in private (for profit) law practice. This is an excellent opportunity for retired attorneys and those of extended family leave to do pro bono work without having to pay bar dues! Free MCLE and malpractice insurance is provided. Contact us today to learn more.

VLSP Legal Clinic & Training

There are many volunteer opportunities for attorneys, law clerks, paralegals, and other professionals, some of which include free training and MCLE credit. Please visit our Events Page for upcoming clinics and training.

The Pro Bono Training Institute provides free online training for legal volunteers.

Q & A

Benefits of Volunteering

What insurance courage do I receive?

You can receive free liability and professional malpractice insurance coverage.

What about MCLE?

You can receive discounted or free access to MCLE accredited training seminars.

Will court reporting fees be reimbursed?

You can receive reimbursement for court reporting fees through the Transcript Reimbursement Fund.

What career advancement opportunities will there be?

You will have the opportunity to network with other professionals. For example, you will get access to mentor attorneys, poverty law experts, and other professional volunteers.

What impact will I have?

You will enjoy the satisfaction of helping low-income individuals and families enhance their lives.

What is my obligation?

You are awarded the opportunity to meet your ethical obligations as an attorney.

Interested in volunteering?

For more information or to get involved, contact Paul Carter Mullen with the form below.

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