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VIP's offices are closed, and staff are working remotely. Click here for more information on our response to COVID-19.
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VIP in Action Published April 13, 2020

Remote Pro Bono Opportunities

Although the city’s courts and administrative offices are closed, legal challenges still threaten the critical needs of Philadelphia’s low-income residents, families, small businesses, and nonprofits.

Our goal is to say “yes!” to 100% of eligible clients seeking our help. Even before the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, we had to turn away nearly 4 in 10 clients for lack of a volunteer.

Now, more than ever, our clients need the expertise of VIP’s volunteer attorneys. Below are some concrete ways you can partner in our efforts and say “yes!” to helping a client remotely, right now.

Probate

Help clients preserve their family homes, build intergenerational family wealth, and contribute to neighborhood and community stability.

Expectations and commitment: Volunteers will confirm the family tree, open an estate at the Register of Wills, transfer title to the client, and file an inheritance tax return. These matters are a great fit for volunteers seeking an impactful transactional opportunity they can handle at their own pace.

Remote work notes: Volunteers are urgently needed to begin working on probate matters. Considering the current economic circumstances, it is especially important that homeowners have clear title to access needed relief, such as repair grants or loan forgiveness. Volunteers can handle the majority of the case remotely, and complete the matter when relevant departments reopen. VIP’s online resource library has a complete timeline on how to handle a probate case under social isolation measures. The Tangled Title Fund is still operational and has relaxed some guidelines; see this post for details.

Ready to say “yes!” to a probate case? Click here for available cases.

Wills and Advance Planning

Provide clients with the peace of mind, and legal security, that their affairs will be handled consistent with their wishes.

Expectations and commitment: Volunteers will interview and counsel their clients, create the needed documents (e.g., will, living will, financial power of attorney) using templates from VIP, and ensure proper execution by clients. These matters, which take just a few hours, are a good fit for attorneys interested in practicing legal drafting.

Remote work notes: Volunteers can meet with clients over the phone or through video conferencing to discuss clients’ options and wishes, then draft documents. We encourage volunteers to wait for VIP’s office to reopen to fully execute documents (note that advance healthcare directives can be fully executed by clients remotely without a notary). Other urgent matters will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Ready to say “yes!” to an estate planning case? Click here for available cases.

 

Small Business and Nonprofit Cases

Help businesses and organizations troubleshoot a variety of transactional legal matters.

Expectations and commitment: Volunteers will assist with legal matters involving document filings (incorporation, taxes, or intellectual property), drafting (contracts, employment policies, bylaws, or operating agreements), document review (commercial leases; existing policies, contracts, agreements, waivers, or insurance), and advice (choice of entity, property acquisition, or options for legal recourse).

Remote work notes: Volunteers are encouraged to meet their clients over the phone or through video conferencing.

Ready to say “yes!” to a small business or nonprofit case? Click here for available cases.

Deed Transfer

Help clients secure legal ownership of their homes, a critical step in ensuring housing stability.

Expectations and commitment: Volunteers will interview the client, draft a deed and transfer tax forms using provided templates, and help the current owner properly execute it. These matters are a good fit for those seeking experience with legal drafting and a short-term, but impactful, pro bono opportunity.

Remote work notes: Volunteers can meet with clients over the phone or through video conferencing to discuss case details, then draft documents. We encourage volunteers to wait for VIP’s office to reopen to execute documents. Urgent matters will be considered on a case-by-case basis. VIP will resume recording deeds when City offices re-open. The Tangled Title Fund is still operational and has relaxed some guidelines; see this post for details.

Ready to say “yes!” to a deed transfer case? Click here for available cases.