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New Volunteer Orientation Welcome to VLN. This 20 minute presentation will give you a brief overview of VLN and ways you can provide dignity, hope and.

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Presentation on theme: "New Volunteer Orientation Welcome to VLN. This 20 minute presentation will give you a brief overview of VLN and ways you can provide dignity, hope and."— Presentation transcript:

1 New Volunteer Orientation Welcome to VLN. This 20 minute presentation will give you a brief overview of VLN and ways you can provide dignity, hope and justice to those in need. BEGIN

2 Welcome “With your admission to the bar, you joined a limited and privileged group of professionals who alone can provide access to the courts and the protection of the law. At VLN, you are joining a legal team 1,000+ attorneys strong. You will protect the basic human needs of struggling individuals and families in our community. People like Terri, who was in a car crash and whose insurer did not honor her claim until a lawyer called. Thank you for your interest in helping others. We look forward to working with you.” Suzanne G. Pontinen Executive Director Next

3  Volunteer Lawyers Network protects the basic human needs of those in poverty by connecting them with trained volunteer attorneys.  We bring hope, dignity, and justice to those who often go without. Click here to watch a short video about VLN Click here to watch a short video about VLN Next

4 The Difference You can Make Last year, VLN volunteers:  Obtained security deposits that had been withheld without cause.  Prevented default judgments on bogus lawsuits.  Enforced legal contracts.  Obtained overdue wages.  Prevented mortgage foreclosures based on illegal practices.  Protected clients from abuse and lack of financial security.  Stopped improper garnishments.  And more.... Next

5 Client Story Next

6 Client Story Next

7 New Volunteer Orientation Question 1  What type of issues do VLN attorneys NOT help low income clients with? A: Not being paid wages due. B: Personal Injury lawsuits. C: Obtaining custody of children or grandchildren. D: Mortgage foreclosures based on illegal practices. E: Abusive spouses and lack of safety and financial security.

8 New Volunteer Orientation Q1 Incorrect  Our volunteer lawyers assist in the areas of housing, real estate, family law, civil law, debtor’s rights, bankruptcy, and other issues common to people in poverty.  Click here for a full list of our legal services. here Try Again

9 New Volunteer Orientation Q1 Correct  VLN lawyers provide legal services in a most types of civil issues, such as housing, bankruptcy, family, debt collection, etc.  Issues that we do not do include personal injury, criminal matters, worker's compensation, legal or medical malpractice, or any other fee-generating issues.  Click here for a full list of our legal services. here Next

10 Client Needs  Three quarters of the legal needs of the disadvantaged remain unaddressed in Minnesota.  ¾ - is after VLN’s and Legal Aid’s work. Still so much to do.  Low-Income families have roughly 1.1 legal issues per year.  1.1 – any of which can really derail a client’s life. Why do low income clients have so many so many legal issues? Next

11 Unless you can get to court, you cannot access the law’s protections. And bad people bank on it. Those landlords who withhold security deposits or evict tenants who request repairs.. Those employers who withhold wages. Those insurers, who fail to pay claims. Those debt collectors, who ignore garnishment laws. Those roommates who refuse to leave. Any one of which can destabilize a life already on the edge Next

12 Client Story Next

13 New Volunteer Orientation Question 2 What are some reasons those in poverty may have difficulty accessing the protections of the laws? A: People in poverty often do not know they have a legal issue (e.g. Safe Housing). D: All of the above. B: People in poverty often have difficulty getting to court physically, and have difficulty participating in court (for example they do not have the vocabulary). C: Some people (and cultures) may have had experiences which lead them to distrust the courts

14 New Volunteer Orientation Q2 Incorrect  It is important to remember there are a number of reasons those in poverty may have difficulty accessing the protections of the laws. Try Again

15 New Volunteer Orientation Q2 Correct  It is important to remember there are a number of reasons those in poverty may have difficulty accessing the protections of the laws. Next

16 How do you get a client? 1: Our intake specialist screen callers for eligibility (16,000 calls per year). 2:You tell us on which issues you would like to help. 3: Our staff members contact you with specific cases. 4: We keep track of your services. Next

17 Last year, our volunteers changed more than 20,000 lives.

18 New Volunteer Orientation Question 3  True or False: You can get CLE credits for volunteering with VLN if you report to VLN the hours you have worked on a case. A: True.B: False.

19 New Volunteer Orientation Q3 Correct  You can get up to 6 CLE credits per cycle (one credit for three hours of pro bono work) for volunteering with VLN as long as you report to VLN the hours you have worked on a case. Next

20 New Volunteer Orientation Q3 Incorrect Try Again

21 VLN Support for your work. “I want to help but....” Click on each link to see how VLN supports your work! I don’t know poverty law. I don’t know poverty law. I don’t have an office or insurance. I don’t have the time ! I don’t have the time ! Next

22 New Volunteer Orientation Question 4  VLN Staff provide which of the following services to volunteers? A: Screening prospective clients for income and issue eligibility. B: Link clients with attorneys in the areas in which the attorneys wish to volunteer. C: Provide malpractice coverage for VLN clients and cases. D: All of the above.

23 New Volunteer Orientation Q4 Sorry! Correct answer is “D – All of the above.”  VLN will provide you with numerous services and resources including:  Comprehensive resources, manuals, and forms.  Volunteer Mentor Attorneys.  Office space to meet with clients.  Malpractice insurance for any VLN Client. (including clinics). Visit for a complete list of resources.www.volunteerlawyersnetwork.org Try Again

24 New Volunteer Orientation Q4 Correct  VLN will provide you with numerous services and resources including:  Comprehensive resources, manuals, and forms.  Volunteer Mentor Attorneys.  Office space to meet with clients.  Malpractice insurance for any VLN Client. (including clinics). Visit for a complete list of resources.www.volunteerlawyersnetwork.org Next

25 Ways to volunteer  Full Representation Volunteer Attorney. Full Representation Volunteer Attorney.  Assisted Pro Se One-on One Workshop Volunteer Attorney. Assisted Pro Se One-on One Workshop Volunteer Attorney.  Legal Advice Clinic Volunteer Attorney (Walk-in Clinic). Legal Advice Clinic Volunteer Attorney (Walk-in Clinic).  Mentor Attorney. Mentor Attorney.  Case/Issue Screening Attorney. Case/Issue Screening Attorney.  Phone Advice Attorney. Phone Advice Attorney. Below are job descriptions for the most common volunteer attorney positions. Click on each one to learn more. Next

26 What we ask of you.  Comply with the rules of professional conduct.  Provide competent representation (including learning any areas of law new to you).  Review the representation agreement with your client to ensure you agree on your services, then return a signed copy to VLN.)  Keep in touch. (We’ll ask you periodically for updates.)  Learn enough about poverty and your client’s life to maximize his or her chances for success in the courtroom. Next Back

27 In what areas are YOU interested in volunteering? Greatest NeedOther Need Bankruptcy Custody Divorces Spanish Legal Services Immigration Admin Civil/Consumer Criminal Expungement Housing Employment / UC Real Estate “Stop Contact” Letters Next Some new volunteers find it difficult to decide where to first volunteer. One way to decide is to pick which area of law you’d like to focus in, and then which level of service. Click on each area to learn more.

28 Bankruptcy Level of Service  Full Representation (8-20 hours)  Phone advice* (1-2 Hours per shift)  Review cases for merit* (10-30 minutes per case)  In-person legal advice* (2 hours per shift)  Mentor Attorney* (2-10 hours) Please note that services with an asterisk (*) are best provided by an attorney experienced in that area of law. Back

29 Administrative Level of Service  Full Representation (8-20 hours)  Phone advice* (1-2 Hours per shift)  Review cases for merit* (10-30 minutes per case)  Mentor Attorney* (2-10 hours) Please note that services with an asterisk (*) are best provided by an attorney experienced in that area of law. Back

30 Civil/Consumer Level of Service  Full Representation (8-20 hours)  Brief services (e.g., negotiated settlement, phone advocacy) (1-4 hours per case)  One-on-one Consumer Protection Workshop ( 1 hour per client)  Review cases for merit* (10-30 minutes per case)  In-person legal advice* (2 hours per shift)  Mentor Attorney* (2-10 hours) Back Please note that services with an asterisk (*) are best provided by an attorney experienced in that area of law.

31 Divorce Level of Service  Full Representation (8-70 hours)  Phone advice* (1-2 Hours per shift)  Review cases for merit* (10-30 minutes per case)  In-person legal advice* (2 hours per shift)  Mentor Attorney* (2-10 hours) Please note that services with an asterisk (*) are best provided by an attorney experienced in that area of law. Back

32 Criminal Expungement Level of Service  Full Representation (8-10 hours)  Phone advice* (30 minutes per case)  Review cases for merit* (10-30 minutes per case)  Mentor Attorney* (2-10 hours) Please note that services with an asterisk (*) are best provided by an attorney experienced in that area of law. Back

33 Housing Level of Service  Full Representation (8-50 hours)  Phone advice* (1-2 hours per shift)  In-person legal advice* (3.5 hours per shift) Please note that services with an asterisk (*) are best provided by an attorney experienced in that area of law. Back

34 Real Estate Level of Service  Full Representation (8-70 hours)  Phone advice* (1-2 hours per shift)  In-person legal advice* (2 hours per shift) Please note that services with an asterisk (*) are best provided by an attorney experienced in that area of law. Back

35 Employment Level of Service  Full Representation (8-20 hours)  Phone advice* (1-2 Hours per shift)  Review cases for merit* (10-30 minutes per case)  In-person legal advice* (2 hours per shift)  Mentor Attorney* (2-10 hours) Please note that services with an asterisk (*) are best provided by an attorney experienced in that area of law. Back

36 Spanish Legal Service Program  VLN’s Spanish Legal Services Program provides legal advice or in-person brief services to Spanish speaking clients.  We provide a coordinated legal “first responder” system so Spanish-speaking individuals receive legal help quickly and efficiently-without being bounced from provider to provider.  Our clients’ largest needs include Consumer, Employment, Family, Immigration, and Landlord/Tenant.  Click Here for more information. Here Back

37 Full Representation Volunteer Attorney Responsibilities to Client:  Contact the client as soon as possible after receiving contact information but no later than within two weeks of accepting the case, unless the timing of the case requires immediate contact.  Keep the client informed about the status of the case.  Complete the case, unless there are reasons to withdraw pursuant to the representation / retainer agreement. Responsibilities to VLN:  Complete and return to VLN the VLN Representation Agreement specifying the issues on which you will be providing services. Ensure the client has checked whether or not he/she is a U.S. citizen.  Track hours volunteered on the case.  Complete VLN Case Closing Form at the end of the representation.  Include a copy of a final decision or settlement agreement, if any. For a full description of your responsibilities view the VLN handbook. Back

38 Assisted Pro Se One-on-One Workshop Volunteer Attorney Areas of Law:  Civil (Answers, Garnishment Exemption Forms, Discovery).  Criminal Expungement. Responsibilities to client:  Review the case and complete court forms as appropriate (sometimes with the assistance of a law student or paralegal).  Review and follow VLN’s descriptions re: how to fulfill attorney ethical obligations in limited scope service cases. Responsibilities to VLN:  Complete client acknowledgement form and return to VLN. Let staff know if you would like to assist the client beyond the confines of the workshop. For a full description of your responsibilities view the VLN handbook. Back

39 Legal Advice Clinic Volunteer Attorney (Walk-in Clinic) Areas of law:  Bankruptcy, Civil, Family, Housing. Responsibilities to Clients:  Provide written information to client concerning their legal problems, e.g., generic legal fact sheets whenever possible.  Provide a brief service where possible, including making phone calls, writing letters, getting information from agencies, assisting in filling out forms, and other limited tasks which may help solve the client’s legal problem. Responsibilities to VLN:  Complete both sides of a Clinic Data Sheet for each client you see and return it to your clinic assistant.  When completing the Clinic Data Sheet, be accurate and complete in describing the services you provided the client. For a full description of your responsibilities view the VLN handbook. Back

40 Mentor Attorney Areas of law:  Bankruptcy, Debtor Creditor, Civil, Family. Responsibilities to Mentee Attorney:  Make sure there is no conflict of interest on your part with the client.  Return phone calls to the mentee within a reasonable time.  Answer specific questions related to the client’s issue.  Note: You are NOT required to give an overview of the law; the mentee is expected to do basic research and reading of the issue. Responsibilities to VLN:  Report the hours you spent on the case to VLN.  Inform VLN if you have any difficulties. For a full description of your responsibilities view the VLN handbook. Back

41 Case/Issue Screening Attorney Areas of law:  Administrative, Civil, Family. Responsibilities to Clients:  Take the time to thoroughly understand the strengths and weaknesses of the client’s case.  Provide VLN staff with your honest evaluation.  (If applicable) Provide legal advice to the client in cases in which there is not sufficient merit to assign a full representation volunteer. Responsibilities to VLN:  Please complete the screening within one week of receiving the client’s information, so that VLN staff may timely complete the next appropriate step. For a full description of your responsibilities view the VLN handbook. Back

42 Phone Advice Attorney Areas of law:  Bankruptcy, Civil, Debtor/Creditor, Employment, General. Responsibilities to Client:  Explain the legal proceedings and help the client better understand his or her rights and options.  Discuss the consequences of the legal actions the client may take. Responsibilities to VLN:  Inform VLN when you have called the client and give a brief summary of the nature of your advice. For a full description of your responsibilities view the VLN handbook. Back

43 New Volunteer Orientation Question 5  Who Benefits from your Services? A: Your client, who will have a chance at equal justice that he/she would otherwise not have. D: Our profession, which has a long and honored tradition of service. B: Our community, which benefits when all have a fair chance at housing, jobs, and economic stability. C: Our courts, which can administer justice more efficiently and effectively. E: All of the above.

44 New Volunteer Orientation Q5 Your services benefit:  Your client, who will have a chance at equal justice that he/she would otherwise not have.  Our community, which benefits when all have a fair chance at housing, jobs, and economic stability.  Our courts, which can administer justice more efficiently and effectively.  Our profession, which has a long and honored tradition of service. Next

45 THANK YOU for completing this orientation. Please contact us now to get your first client or clinic shift. Administrative Law Glen ( )Glen Bankruptcy Molly ( )Molly Civil (collections lawsuits, car crashes, garnishments) Glen ( )Glen Criminal Expungement Bill ( )Bill Employment Heidi ( )Heidi Family (including Divorce, Custody and Adoptions) Greg ( )Greg Housing Bill ( )Bill Real Estate Bill ( )Bill “Stop Contact” Letters to Creditors Heidi ( )Heidi The End

46 Support for your work. VLN provides you with  Comprehensive resources, manuals, and forms.  Volunteer mentor attorneys.  VLN resource attorneys. VLN resource attorneys.  Low-Cost CLE’s. Low-Cost CLE’s.  VLC Wiki – Online access to all our resources. VLC Wiki – Online access to all our resources.  Tips of the month. Tips of the month. Back

47 Resource Attorney Support:  If you can’t find the answer to a question, our resource attorneys are happy to help.  If you would like to meet with a resource attorney, please call ( ) in advance to ensure he or she will be available to meet with you. Back

48 Support for your work. VLN provides you with  CLE credits for your Pro Bono Hours. ( up to 6 per cycle).  Administrative Support to get IFP signed, paperwork filed.  Law Students to help to provide brief services brief services and Volunteer Librarians to do research for you. Back

49 Support for your work. VLN provides you with  Malpractice insurance for any VLN Client. (including clinics).  Office space to meet with clients. Back

50 Custody Level of Service  Full Representation (8-70 hours)  Phone advice* (1-2 Hours per shift)  Review cases for merit* (10-30 minutes per case)  In-person legal advice* (2 hours per shift)  Mentor Attorney* (2-10 hours) Please note that services with an asterisk (*) are best provided by an attorney experienced in that area of law. Back

51 People in poverty are more vulnerable to…  Claims of quick cash fixes.  Poor housing and jobs – few choices.  Even fewer choices if criminal record.  Predatory practices – door to door solicitation for loan refinancing, etc.  Difficulty leaving abusive relationships, lack of family stability.  Cycle of default judgments and garnishments – resulting in NSF checks and overdraft fees. Next

52 Avoid common hurdles with VLN Clients.  Clarify Expectations  Attorneys and clients always have implicit expectations of each other, with VLN clients, some of these expectations may not be understood or shared.  Contacting your client  VLN clients may work alternate shifts, be homeless, have a pay-per-minute phone, or fear giving out contact information for safety reasons.  Meeting your client  Clients may have odd work hours, work multiple jobs or night shifts. Clients may not have affordable child care or reliable transportation. Clients may also have disabilities or illness that makes travel difficult.  Communicating with your client  Many of VLN clients find reading a writing difficult. Legalese is an ever-present concern, as is how you present certain topics both in conversation and in writing.  For useful strategies for avoiding these common hurdles view VLN’s September 2010 Tip of the MonthSeptember 2010 Tip of the Month Next


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