The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It
June 28, 2012

The Wheels on the Bus….

Pro bono clients, especially those in rural areas, often do not have the means to travel to a more populated city or town to receive legal assistance.  Mobile clinics are becoming a popular way to reach out to remote and underserved clients in need of help.  More than ten years ago the Winnebago of Justice was created in California, as a revival of the concept of a bookmobile, to be the nation’s first mobile legal self-help clinic.  Here are a few examples of innovative models of mobile pro bono assistance:

  • Nixon Peabody*† participated in a pro bono project through the “Bus de la Solidarite du Barreau de Paris” which was started in 2003 by the Paris Bar Association.  The project aims to provide low-income people throughout the Paris area with free legal advice.  The bus travels to several disadvantaged areas in Paris looking for clients to help.  Nixon Peabody sends lawyers to volunteer on the bus for three-hour sessions, where they give advice on a variety of legal issues including housing, immigration, and labor.  Lawyers receive thorough training before volunteering for their first time on the bus.
  • In 2007, OneJustice created the Justice Bus®Project by organizing and training California’s urban law students and busing them to rural California to staff free legal clinics in conjunction with rural host partner organizations.  Many summer associates from Paul Hastings LLP*† and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP*†, among others, have participated in the Justice Bus® Project.  Under the supervision of experienced attorneys, law student volunteers conduct intake, draft legal documents, and provide self-help education.  Students at the Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law also staff their own mobile bus clinic. The “Justice Bus” expands the ability to provide pro bono service beyond the Pheonix Metropolitan area.
  • University of Detroit Mercy School of Law created Project SALUTE, a Veteran’s Law Clinic, which is supported by a custom-designed 31 foot Mobile Law Office, built and donated by General Motors Company**.  Since 2008, the program has provided pro bono assistance to more than 800 veterans and trained more than 300 lawyers to serve as pro bono veteran advocates in Michigan.  In addition to serving Michigan, Project SALUTE has helped veterans in more than 13 states across the country.

Do you know of other innovative mobile models providing pro bono assistance?  If so, feel free to drop us a comment below!

* denotes a Signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®
† denotes a Member of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project
** denotes a Signatory to the Corporate Pro Bono ChallengeSM

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