There are several ways to volunteer with CLADC, by: (1) serving at a legal clinic; (2) signing up to be a referral for client cases (attorneys only); (3) signing up for our law student volunteer bank (law students only); or (4) helping us with various non-legal strategic and administrative needs (anyone).
By volunteering with CLADC, legal professionals can help meet their pro bono requirements and law students can gain meaningful real-world legal experience. Prior experience in legal aid is not required; you just need a desire to serve and a willingness to learn. If you do not have a legal background, we can still use your help.
Most of our volunteers serve through one of our three monthly legal aid clinics. At each clinic, legal professionals and law students interview homeless and/or low-income clients to analyze the facts and issues of their case to determine what should be done to resolve their legal problem. After meeting with a client, we may do any of the following, as appropriate:
provide legal advice and/or holistic counseling on site at the legal clinic;
transfer the entire case to a referral attorney or other legal service organization that is better equipped at addressing the issue;
provide pro se (when you represent yourself without an attorney at a proceeding) coaching and follow-up with the client; and/or
work in tandem with a referral attorney.
Typical legal issues that our volunteers encounter may include replacing identification cards or other vital records, obtaining food benefits, locating shelter, understanding public housing options, landlord-tenant issues, SSI/SSD assistance, employment law issues, family law issues, elderly needs, and small claims issues. Volunteers are not expected to have mastered each substantive area of law, but the clinic’s supervising attorney will work to ensure that each client receives competent advice or a useful referral.
CLADC is a Christian organization. As such, we try to deliver quality legal advice while keeping in mind that we are spiritual beings too. Our volunteers pray together to begin our clinics. Additionally, a volunteer may offer to pray for a client, and where appropriate, share his or her Christian faith. A volunteer’s presence and professional service on a Christian basis can be a powerful demonstration of the Gospel. Although the clinic directors and many of our volunteers are Christians, you do not have to be a Christian to volunteer with us or to be a client.
Volunteers typically work in teams consisting of some combination of attorneys, law students, and paralegals. Two people normally make up an intake team with at least one being a DC-licensed attorney. All clinics are supervised by a DC-licensed attorney. Volunteers take interview notes so that attorneys can provide clients with an assessment of their case at the conclusion of their meeting.
Typically, volunteers meet with two to four clients on a clinic day. An interviewing session with a client lasts between 30 minutes to one hour, and our clinics usually last no more than two and a half hours. Follow-up time will vary depending on the case(s) seen by the volunteer. All legal professionals and law students are covered by CLADC’s legal malpractice insurance.
All volunteers are expected to present themselves in a professional manner at all times when working with our clients. Please click here for additional volunteer FAQs.
If you are an attorney and would like to join our referral network, please let us know. We often meet with clients who require additional follow-up legal support, or due to limited resources or expertise, we need to refer their cases elsewhere. This is also a great way to serve if you cannot attend our legal clinics. We are particularly looking for referral attorneys who specialize in immigration, criminal representation, civil litigation, family law, tax, probate and estate planning, employment, personal injury and consumer protection.
Many of our law student volunteers have signed up with our Law Student Volunteer Bank, which allows law students to conduct legal research for CLADC client matters, work on CLADC documents, and more. These tasks are performed outside of clinic hours according to the law student’s schedule.
Strategic & Administrative Support
You do not need a legal background to help. We also constantly seek non-attorney volunteers with a heart to serve the poor and needy. If you have skills with communications, marketing, fundraising, event planning or other areas that could be useful for us, please let us know. We could also use help with basic, but important, administrative matters. Our clients also often need holistic care, including access to affordable housing options, job training and placement, and assistance with mental health issues, among other things.
Contact us to volunteer or to learn more.