By Richard A. Mann, 2014 IndyBar Family Law Section Chair
As you are likely aware, over the last 15 months, the IndyBar has been placing family law cases that are conflicted out of the Indianapolis Legal Aid Society, with IndyBar Family Law attorney members. To date, we’ve placed over 120 cases regarding divorce, custody, support, parenting time, paternity and a few involving minor guardianship, typically involving grandparents.
We need your help. As our volunteer pool diminishes, with such a great volume of cases placed, we ask that you raise your hand, and answer Oath taken as part of the Rules of Professional Responsibility.
The greatest part of the IndyBar/ILAS conflict referral program, in my mind, is that you only take one case at a time. Caren Chopp is the point person at the Bar; she will call you when she has referrals, give you some details about who the client is and what they are trying to accomplish. Usually you have a few cases to choose from. She sends the litigant your name and it is up to them to contact you.
Key points about this program:
- The cases have been screened for merit and financial qualification.
- Caren will contact you before any assignment is made, and generally will offer you a choice of matters and give you adverse party names. This will allow you to run a conflict check of your own.
- It is the client’s responsibility to contact you; if they don’t within 10 business days, you are not obligated to represent them.
- Caren will check in with you quarterly on the disposition of your case and can be a resource for you. She will track your hours upon completion.
- The State Courts and Supreme Court will be made aware of your donation of time.
- You retain the right to withdraw from the case just as you would if this were a private case.
- You also retain the right to file for a motion to withdraw if the client shows signs of an ability to pay fees.
At the recent State of the Judiciary, Justice Dickerson reported that more than 60% of domestic cases involve unrepresented litigants. As you know, this is detrimental to the Court system and inhibits the access to equal justice, as the facts are likely not well-presented, documents not filed and extra time is consumed by this type of litigant. Furthermore, we all find it better to work on cases that have lawyers on them. I know the judges prefer the parties being represented so they receive the information in proper form so that they make a better reasoned decision.
This is an ideal opportunity to do rewarding pro bono service and a hands-on way to make a difference in your community. To vounteer, contact Caren Chopp at email@example.com.