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The Value of Even Limited Pro Bono Work

August 19, 2008

Recently, I had the opportunity to take part in a rather worthwhile pro bono program in the Philadelphia Volunteers for the Indigent Program Foreclosure Rescue Effort (FREE).  As many people know, the mortgage foreclosure crisis has affected many homeowners throughout the nation, threatening the loss of many homes due to the inability to pay mortgages.  Given the current dire situation, V.I.P. teamed up with the Court of Common Pleas and the Philadelphia Bar Association to create a mortgage foreclosure diversion program.  In this program, involving owner-occupied residential properties, cases are scheduled for a conciliation conference before a real property can be sold at a sheriff sale.  At the conciliation conference, the judge pro temp explores whether it is possible to reach an amicable resolution before the sale.  V.I.P. assigns attorneys to assist endangered homeowners through the process.  I assisted V.I.P. as an “on call” attorney at the conciliation conferences, which meant aiding those who showed up at the conference unrepresented and financially eligible for legal assistance. 

Many folks are open to the idea of pro bono work but do not want to get too involved with certain cases for fear of lacking enough time.  V.I.P. and other legal assistance organizations, however, often offer many opportunities to assist with finite time commitments (for as little as just a few hours).  For those fearing too significant a burden, you should check with these organizations and inquire about matters involving limited time commitments.  For young lawyers especially, performing this type of work is good practice and training in representing clients.  Additionally, in many cases such as the FREE program, you can be involved in a timely and extremely worthy endeavor.

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