How to Volunteer

General Volunteers:

COVID-19 Update: Due to growing concerns regarding COVID-19, Houston Volunteer Lawyers is canceling all of the remaining March legal advice clinics. Starting on Friday, March 27, HVL will be conducting legal advice clinics remotely. We are seeking volunteer attorneys to call HVL applicants and provide legal advice and counsel over the phone on Friday afternoons from 2 pm - 5 pm. If you're interested in volunteering, please email probono@hvlp.org.

 

With a current Texas bar license, you can volunteer at one of our legal advice clinics or represent a client pro bono.

To volunteer at a legal advice clinic (no obligation to take a case), register online or e-mail our Pro Bono Coordinator.

To find a pro bono case that is right for you, use our Pro Bono Portal, where you can:

  • Search our live list of cases
  • Sort by law type
  • Immediately download the documents you need
  • Access legal resource materials, including digital forms
  • Contact the staff attorney mentor assigned to your case

Sign up for e-news about upcoming events, available cases, and training opportunities!

 

 

Table of Contents

  1. How to Find a Pro Bono Case
  2. How to Volunteer Without Taking a Case
  3. Virtual Clinic Volunteer Resources
  4. How Do I Access the HVL Pro Bono Portal?
  5. Close a Case Online

How to Find a Pro Bono Case

HVL has a wide variety of pro bono cases available for volunteers.  You can find a case that is right for you in a number of ways:

  1. Online.  HVL is home to a one-of-a-kind online Pro Bono Portal that allows you to see a live list of waiting cases, searchable by law type, client profile, language spoken, case age, and much more.  You can review case summaries for each waiting case, run conflicts checks, accept a case on the spot, download all of the relevant case documents in PDF, and get started. 

  2. Email.  HVL sends weekly e-newsletters to its volunteers with links to available cases. Subscribe here.

  3. Through Another Organization.  Law firms and corporate legal departments that participate in the Houston Bar Association’s Equal Access to Justice Champions Program may count pro bono matters handled through other legal service organizations towards up to one-third of the firm’s Equal Access target.  To count, the work of such organizations must further HVL’s mission to provide free legal services to low-income individuals in the Houston area.  Approved organizations include, but are not limited to:

    • AVDA (Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse)
    • Beacon Law
    • Boatpeople SOS
    • Catholic Charities Cabrini Center
    • Disability Rights Texas
    • Dispute Resolution Center
    • Earl Carl Institute
    • Human Rights First
    • KIND (Kids in Need of Defense)
    • Lone Star Legal Aid
    • Memorial Assistance Ministries
    • Neighborhood Centers
    • Tahirih Justice Center
    • Texas C-Bar
    • Texas Civil Rights Project
    • YMCA International
  4. Attend a Clinic.  One of the best ways to find a pro bono case is to volunteer at a legal advice clinic and choose to help someone you meet. See our upcoming clinics here.

  5. Personal Request.  Contact our Pro Bono Department or any HVL Staff Attorney to find a case for you.

 

How to Volunteer Without Taking a Case

HVL hosts a variety of legal advice clinics throughout the year.  We use clinics to perform intake.  We recruit and depend on volunteer attorneys, firms, and corporations to help staff these clinics.  Clinic volunteers are not obligated to take on a pro bono case, though experience tells us that many volunteers find pro bono cases that they are passionate about through our clinics! 

Intake clinics typically last two to three hours and are held at various community centers and social service agencies throughout the greater Houston area.  Each clinic begins with a brief training, and an HVL staff attorney is always present to help you.  The volunteer attorney’s task is to assess the applicant’s legal issue, provide initial legal advice, and gather and note relevant facts.  Individual interviews typically last between 20 to 30 minutes, with each volunteer seeing between three and five applicants at a clinic.   HVL staff attorneys use the notes taken by volunteers at the clinic to make decisions about whether to accept a case for long-term representation. 

Legal Advice Clinics are an excellent volunteer opportunity for lawyers in all areas and at every experience level. Clinic dates and locations are listed on the HVL website here.  To volunteer for a clinic, advance notice is not required, but please contact our Pro Bono Coordinator to ensure we are not going to be overstaffed. 

 

COVID-19 Update: Due to growing concerns regarding COVID-19, Houston Volunteer Lawyers is canceling all of the remaining March legal advice clinics. Starting on Friday, March 27, HVL will be conducting legal advice clinics remotely. We are seeking volunteer attorneys to call HVL applicants and provide legal advice and counsel over the phone on Friday afternoons from 2 pm - 5 pm. If you're interested in volunteering, please email probono@hvlp.org.

 

How Do I Access the HVL Pro Bono Portal?

HVL has launched a new Volunteer Portal!

The Pro Bono Portal is a wonderful tool that allows you to see a live list of HVL’s waiting cases, sort and filter them by law type, client profile, language, and more, download case documents, and access resources such as mentor contact information, forms, and CLE material. 

This is a new hosted service, so click the link below to sign in. If you had a login on the old Portal, your username and password should be the same. If your old password fails to work, it did not meet the new site's security requirements. 

 

Access the Portal.

 

Register for a New User Account

 

Access the old Portal for read-only information

 

For password help, contact HVL at 713-228-0735 or probono@hvlp.org

 

Training resources:

 

Close a Case Online