Pro Bono Legal Services

Via Lakeshore’s Private Attorney Involvement unit, a growing number of outstanding lawyers give their time and expertise to help those who otherwise could not afford legal services. We offer varied and flexible pro bono opportunities, training and mentoring when needed, pre-screened clients, office space and malpractice insurance. Our valued volunteer counsel satisfy bar-recommended requirements for pro bono service while having a real impact on individuals, families and community. Join us!

All cases are pre-screened by Lakeshore staff. We provide malpractice coverage for all pro bono work handled though Lakeshore Legal Aid.

Pro Bono Volunteer Opportunities

Explore available opportunities to serve listed below.

Take a family law case: divorce, child custody and paternity matters in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties

Represent low-income clients who are domestic violence survivors, have a disability, or who speak English as a second language. This is a chance to help improve the stability and economic security of clients and their children. This is also an opportunity to learn a new area of law to supplement your practice. We provide mentoring, sample pleadings and templates.

Advise family law clients at the Family Law Assistance Project (FLAP) Clinic in Oakland County

FLAP hosts a clinic every other Wednesday from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Sixth Circuit Court Law Library. Attorneys work directly with clients on family law issues, providing guidance and/or helping them to complete pro se pleadings. Sign up for specific clinics that fit your schedule.

Assist survivors of domestic violence: Personal Protection Order (PPO) Project in Wayne County Circuit Court

There are two different opportunities. In the first, attorneys assist pro se domestic violence survivors to draft an affidavit with details about the domestic violence so they secure a PPO.  Survivors have trouble securing a PPO because they don’t know what to include in their affidavit. Advocates go to the Wayne County Circuit Court on Mondays and Thursdays from 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. Your work will help ensure that survivors who desperately need protection get a PPO. You’ll acquire experience interviewing clients and drafting affidavits.

In the second opportunity, attorneys represent low-income survivors when respondent batterers file motions to terminate the PPO. It is extremely difficult for a pro se survivor to face his or her batterer in court, especially when the batterer is usually represented by counsel. This is a chance to make a significant difference in a survivor’s life. It is also a wonderful opportunity for a “mini-trial” experience with potential direct and cross exams and a brief oral argument. These cases take from 8-10 hours.

Webinar and training materials are available. We can also arrange for you to shadow an experienced attorney.

Staff a community-based clinic: expungement, driver license restoration or identity theft

Attorneys meet with clients to identify the issue (s) and begin the process of resolving the problem. An attorney may:

  • Access and review register of actions, or
  • Call courts to try to resolve outstanding civil infraction tickets fines and fees, or
  • Review a driving record to determine if the client is eligible to apply for reinstatement through an administrative action, or
  • Contact the Department of Treasury, while with the client, to obtain a payment plan for driver’s responsibility fees.

Prior experience with drivers’ license issues is not necessary to effectively assist clients. We email training materials before the clinic and provide training the day of the clinic. An attorney with drivers’ license restoration experience is available to answer questions as you work with clients. You do not need to accept a case.

This is a chance to help low income clients at a 4-hour clinic. Volunteers rate this as one of their most meaningful pro bono experiences. You will develop experience interviewing clients. Attorneys determine if people are legally eligible for an expungement using the Internet Criminal History Access Tool (ICHAT) and information from the client. If so, the attorney prepares a one-page State Court Administrators’ Office (SCAO) pleading.

You do not need prior experience with expungements. We provide mentoring, and you can shadow an experienced attorney before you accept your own case.

An attorney with expungement experience is available to answer questions as you work with clients.  You do not need to accept a case.

Advocate to remove barriers to employment: expunge criminal records and restore drivers’ licenses

Many of our clients do not have drivers’ licenses. Public transportation is often not available or reliable. Employment opportunities for many clients are limited to businesses close to a bus route or within walking distance of their homes.  Employers often decline to hire individuals with suspended or revoked licenses.  Our clients are overwhelmed by the requirements to get their license back.

Direct representation cases include:

  • Advocacy at District Court hearings to negotiate payment plans for fines for civil infraction tickets (about 4 hours), or
  • Negotiations with the Michigan Department of Treasury to pay Driver Responsibility Fees, (about 2 – 3 hours), or
  • Administrative hearings before the Secretary of State’s Drivers’ License Appeal Division for substance abuse driving convictions (about 8-10 hours.) A substance abuse evaluation and proof of abstinence for at least one year is required before a hearing is permitted.

You will be working with clients who are determined to turn their lives around and become employed. This is also a chance to develop your research, negotiation, litigation and creative lawyering skills.

We provide mentoring, and you can shadow an experienced attorney before you accept your own case.

This is an opportunity to have a life-changing impact on a low-income client. Our clients can’t get jobs or housing because of a mistake years ago. Conviction records can be sealed, but only after many years and with evidence of rehabilitation. No one can seal serious felonies.

You will use or develop litigation skills, preparing your client to testify at one hearing and handling a brief oral argument.  The argument involves explaining why the client is legally eligible to seal the record and why the client is now rehabilitated. Cases take between 3 -10 hours depending on your level of experience. We provide mentoring, and you can shadow an experienced attorney before you accept your own case.

Represent tenants in eviction cases in 36th District Court

We appreciate your time and commitment.

Pro Bono Attorneys are vital to the work of Lakeshore Legal Aid and the community we serve. If you would like to volunteer with us, please complete this form and someone will contact you to get involved.