Legal Aid in Columbus, GA: Making a Difference in the Lives of the Underprivileged

Understanding the Need for Volunteer Attorneys

Volunteer attorneys play a crucial role in the pursuit of justice for all. In Georgia, there are over a million impoverished individuals who cannot afford legal representation. Shockingly, 40% of these households will face new legal challenges every year. These challenges often relate to healthcare, affordable housing, and loss of income. Unfortunately, with only 80 staff attorneys spread across 154 counties, the Georgia Legal Services Program (GLSP) can only meet about 20% of the legal needs of poor Georgians. Furthermore, the majority of lawyers, about 75%, primarily work in metro Atlanta where only 25% of the underserved population resides. This scarcity highlights the pressing need for volunteer attorneys in providing access to justice for the less fortunate.

Joining a Pro Bono Program: Making a Real Impact

If you already engage in occasional pro bono work, we encourage you to consider joining our structured and coordinated pro bono program. Our program follows the ABA Standards for Pro Bono and focuses on identifying the most critical legal needs of the disadvantaged in your area. Joining forces with our larger pro bono community amplifies our impact, empowering us to lift clients out of poverty, not just solve individual cases.

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The Support You Can Expect from GLSP

GLSP is committed to supporting and assisting volunteer attorneys every step of the way. In each of our offices statewide, experienced pro bono coordinators are available to collaborate with you and provide guidance throughout the process. They facilitate communication with clients, discuss any case support needs you may have, and connect you with GLSP attorneys who can offer valuable advice and practice pointers. Our coordinators also monitor the case’s progress, offering sample pleadings, case materials, and information on financial assistance for costs and expenses.

Flexibility in Case Assignments

At GLSP, we respect your area of expertise. You have the freedom to choose the counties or circuits in which you desire to handle cases. Furthermore, we focus solely on civil matters, eliminating the need for you to handle criminal cases.

Balancing Time Commitment and Reward

We understand that your time is valuable. Taking on a pro bono case won’t require a significant time commitment. We meticulously screen clients based on income eligibility and case merits. Additionally, we provide relevant resources, specialty area attorneys, and comprehensive training to support you throughout the process.

Assistance When Needed

Should a case become overwhelming, GLSP is here to support you. We can step in as co-counsel or help identify alternative solutions to ensure the case progresses smoothly.

Financial Support for Out-of-Pocket Expenses

GLSP covers all out-of-pocket expenses incurred during the course of a case, including travel and discovery costs. Before a case begins, we may request an estimate of expenses to better plan and allocate resources.

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Embrace New Experiences

While we encourage you to focus on cases within your practice area, we also encourage stepping outside your comfort zone. If presented with a case outside your specialty, we will provide the necessary assistance, training, materials, and support to ensure a successful representation. Many volunteers have found the experience of trying something new to be incredibly refreshing and rewarding.

Professional Protection with Malpractice Insurance

GLSP provides malpractice insurance protection for each case referred to volunteer attorneys, offering you peace of mind as you serve those in need.

Recognition and Appreciation

Your pro bono service is invaluable and highly esteemed. Every year, at the State Bar’s Annual Meeting, an outstanding volunteer lawyer is formally honored. Additionally, numerous local bar associations hold recognition ceremonies to celebrate local volunteers. The dedicated efforts of pro bono lawyers are also acknowledged annually in the Georgia Bar Journal.

Supporting GLSP: More Ways to Make a Difference

If you are unable to volunteer with GLSP but still wish to support our program, there are various ways to contribute. You can make a monetary donation to the “And Justice for All” State Bar Campaign for GLSP or the Georgia Legal Services Foundation, established as an endowment fund in 1996. Additionally, you can offer in-kind services, participate in panels or public forums discussing pro bono issues, and explore other giving opportunities. To learn more about these options, please contact GLSP’s development department at 404-463-1611.

For more information about our initiatives and services, visit our website: Garrity Traina. Together, we can make a meaningful impact on the lives of those who need it most.

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