Provided by Prince William County Bar Association
The PWC Bar Association launched an initiative in 2016 to encourage greater participation by its members in pro bono programs. The initiative was inspired by the Virginia Access to Justice Commission’s concern about the decline in funding for legal services across the state. Members of the PWC Bar were encouraged to increase their support of local pro bono efforts to ensure access to justice for all Prince William Citizens, and embraced the challenge that called for every member to support a pro bono program in 2016. Jeanie Wiethop, 2016 President of the PWC Bar, was thrilled with the response. “We are pleased to see 42% of PWC Bar members participating in pro bono activities in 2016, up from 33% in 2015. That’s something to be very proud of!”
Brad Marshall, the current President of the Bar, points out that “attorneys are uniquely qualified to ensure that access to justice exists for everyone, and our members do an outstanding job of supporting programs that were developed to help underserved segments of the population and those in need.” Marshall is continuing the pro bono challenge, expanding it to include volunteer programs, with the goal of 100% participation in 2017.
The PWC Bar supports the following pro bono and volunteer programs:
Modest Means Program: Volunteer attorneys accept prequalified referrals through Legal Services of Northern Virginia or the General District Courts and provide reduced fee legal services.
Domestic Violence Program: Volunteer attorneys accept referrals from ACTS Turning Points Domestic Violence Shelter and provide pro bono representation for protective orders.
Uncontested Divorce Project: Volunteer attorneys provide pro bono representation to prequalified clients seeking uncontested divorces through Legal Services of Northern Virginia.
Landlord Tenant Project: Volunteer attorneys work with Legal Services of Northern Virginia to provide pro bono representation to prequalified clients identified through the Landlord Tenant docket.
Circuit Court Conciliators: Volunteer attorneys agree to act as a conciliator, providing pro bono service resolving discovery disputes in PWC Circuit Court on a rotating schedule.
J&DR Conciliators: Volunteer attorneys agree to act as a conciliator, providing pro bono service resolving custody, visitation & support disputes in PWC Juvenile & Domestic Relations District Court on a rotating schedule.
Wills for Veterans/Wills for Heroes: Volunteer attorneys agree to provide pro bono service drafting living wills, power of attorney, and advanced medical directives for veterans and first responders.
Virginia.FreeLegalAnswers.org: On-line portal where volunteer attorneys provide answers to civil litigation questions posed by low income Virginia residents. Users visit online at virginia.freelegalanswers.org.
“So You’re 18”: Volunteer attorneys are trained to give law related presentations to area high schools seniors on how legal rights, restrictions and responsibilities change upon turning 18.
Senior Citizens Project: Volunteer attorneys visit area senior centers to give presentations on legal issues of interest to older citizens.
Beat the Odds Banquet and Awards Ceremony: Volunteer attorneys work with area juvenile intervention agencies and programs to identify at-risk youth who have achieved academic and social progress, and reward them with scholarships and educational incentives to encourage their continued success.
Middle School Court Tours: Volunteer attorneys and judges give tours of the PWC Judicial Center to middle school students and lead them through a mock trial, with the hopes of inspiring the students to consider law or law enforcement as a career.
Character Counts! Essay Contest: Volunteer attorneys and judges read and judge essays written by area middle school students with the goal of encouraging the development of positive character attributes.
National Young Readers Day: Volunteer attorneys visit area elementary schools and read to children to encourage a love of reading.
Breakfast at SERVE: Volunteer attorneys cook and serve breakfast once a month at the local homeless shelter.
For more information about these and other programs sponsored by the PWC Bar, visit them online at pwcba.org.