Individual/Family

HOW do I apply for a volunteer lawyer from Philadelphia VIP for myself or my family?

A: For families or individuals, the first step is to go to a direct legal services agency for intake, as VIP takes individual and family clients by referral only and does not do direct intake. Two direct legal services agencies who partner with Philadelphia VIP to refer clients are Philadelphia Legal Assistance and Community Legal Services. Most of our referrals come from these two agencies.

To find a listing of the Legal Service agencies in Philadelphia visit PALawHELP.org section or view or click HERE to view our Philadelphia Civil Legal Aid Guide.

WHAT happens after I go through an intake – am I automatically referred to VIP?
A: The intake agency will assess if you qualify for free legal aid and will try to help you directly if they can. If they cannot, or if your legal problem is one that Philadelphia VIP volunteers can often help with, the intake agency will send an official referral with your file to Philadelphia VIP.
WHAT happens after I am referred to Philadelphia VIP?
A: Philadelphia VIP staff will review your referral to see if we are able to assist with your problem, make sure there is no conflict of interest with another client, and then see if a volunteer is available to take your case. If your case is accepted by Philadelphia VIP, that means VIP will start trying to find you a volunteer attorney. If we are able to find a volunteer who is able to help you, we will match you with that volunteer and you will have a pro bono lawyer for that legal problem. If we are unable to find a volunteer attorney, we will let you know and you will have to go forward without volunteer counsel.
WHAT if Philadelphia VIP can’t find a volunteer attorney for my legal problem?

A: Philadelphia VIP tries hard to recruit as many volunteers as possible to help with as many critical civil legal needs as people might face. There are, unfortunately, far more people who seek free legal help than there are volunteers ready at any given time to take a case, particularly in certain areas where there is an extremely high need for lawyer assistance, like divorce. If we can’t find you a volunteer attorney, you may refer to “self-help” resources linked on this page at PALawHELP.org or on the websites of Community Legal Services or Philadelphia Legal Assistance.

CAN Philadelphia VIP help me directly if a volunteer lawyer match isn’t possible?
A: We are unable to represent clients directly. Philadelphia VIP’s role is to match folks with volunteer lawyers, and that’s the critical service we provide to help hundreds of clients per year. We focus exclusively on leveraging the power of a large private legal community to help folks in need of free legal service. Other agencies represent clients directly, while we are dedicated to the crucial need of recruiting volunteers to take clients pro bono.
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