The Wayne County Bar Association’s Volunteer Lawyer Program
“The Wayne County Bar Association’s Pro Bono Policy arises out of two core values: our profession’s calling to help other people, and basic human kindness. The members of our Association have agreed to provide pro bono (volunteer) legal service to those in our community who do not have the financial resources necessary to hire a lawyer: those who have been allowed by the Court to proceed in forma pauperis without having to pay court costs, and those who have been determined by North Penn Legal Services as being eligible to receive free legal services.” ~ From the WCBA Pro Bono Mission Statement, adopted June 10, 2017. To see the full Statement (downloadable version), click [HERE]
The Wayne County Bar Association (the professional association of lawyers who work in Wayne County) helps find free lawyers for people who live in Wayne County and who don’t bring home enough money to pay for a lawyer. Under rules set by the federal government, this is for people who live by themselves and make less than $12,060 a year — more for families (for example, $24,600 a year for a family of 4). You can check the federal rules [HERE].
If you do not qualify for a free lawyer, look at the list of lawyers on this website.
If you have a legal problem and you cannot pay a lawyer, please call 1-877-953-4250 Monday-Friday 9:00 am-11:30 am or Monday-Thursday 1:30-4:00 pm. That is North Penn Legal Services which has free lawyers paid for by taxes. They will ask you questions about how much money you make to see if you qualify for a free lawyer. You can also fill out their form by clicking [HERE]. If you qualify, they will give you a free lawyer or they will ask us to try to find one for you.
If you have questions, you can also [email us]. Someone should get back to you in a day or so.
Our full Pro Bono Policy and Plan, which we adopted on November 22, 2017, is [HERE].
We believe – and probably see more clearly than most – that it is essential to the whole community’s well-being that every person knows they can be protected by the law.
For every low- or no-income person who is able to receive free legal services from North Penn Legal Services, two are turned away, and two more give up before even trying to get help.
In a society where law defines our most important relationships, this is a very big problem. It is made all the worse by the immutable facts of Wayne County: a “flat” economy with very few large employers and high unemployment; rural; very large distances to travel; and a very small bar association, primarily solo practitioners, many of whose members do not practice in Honesdale, or in the areas of law of greatest unmet need.
Help is not on its way from Harrisburg, or Washington. Our entire community, not just our lawyers, needs to work together to reduce the “justice gap” if we are to come anywhere near meeting our national pledge of promising “justice for all.”
For our part, every member of the Wayne County Bar Association will be asked to take on two new low-income clients or otherwise donate twenty hours of legal service each year – this in addition to what we already do as volunteers in our communities. Beyond that, our Bar Association will contribute $20,000 each year to pay lawyers who are willing to deeply discount their standard hourly rates to help families where the unmet need for legal assistance is greatest: disputes over children (custody) and domestic violence (abuse).
To increase access to justice, we will work very closely with our two partners: North Penn Legal Services (NPLS) and the Judges, court officials and staff of the Twenty-Second Judial District. We will look for ways to accept from NPLS responsibility for more cases in areas of law where our lawyers know they are competent, leaving NPLS able to take more clients in areas where expertise in poverty law is needed. We will work with court staff to rewrite legal forms to make them more understandable, to utilize computer-generated forms whenever possible, and to schedule hearings to make it easier for volunteer lawyers to participate. And we will work with the Judges to make sure that when one side has a lawyer, inability to pay won’t stop the other side from having a lawyer, too.
We make these commitments – as individual attorneys, and as a professional association – with the explicit expectation that businesses, foundations, local governments, and community leaders will also do their part, matching our money and our volunteer efforts. Together, but only together, we can ensure that the law will be there to protect and help the least among us when they need it most.