Help during the pandemic and beyond


Practicing Law Institute (PLI) is known to provide a CLE to lawyers, but did you know that volunteering is a big part of the mission of the nonprofit organization? In addition to offering a range of programs designed to help lawyers effectively represent their pro bono clients, PLI offers scholarships and pro bono memberships to support the essential public service work of the legal profession.

Particularly during the pandemic, PLI’s Pro Bono team has worked to raise awareness of the great need for pro bono representation, with training on a variety of topics to make it easy for lawyers to pursue the kind of work that matches their interests.

“The pandemic has only increased the need for pro bono,” says Toby J. Rothschild, Of Counsel to OneJustice and retired general counsel for the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, and frequent speaker at ethics programs pro bono from PLI. “The economic collapse created great hardship and legal problems for low-income and disadvantaged people. There will be a huge increase in evictions, debt collection issues, and other legal areas that volunteer lawyers can help resolve. “

As part of its participation in Pro Bono Week, October 24-30, 2021, PLI is offering three new one-hour briefings of interest to lawyers in legal services firms, corporations and organizations. Visit the PLI website for free access to these programs during Pro Bono Week:

Indirect trauma and resilience: creating a space to take care of yourself and your clients

Vicarious trauma, or secondary trauma, is a risk to legal professionals and others who work with survivors of trauma, including domestic violence. In this briefing, expert practitioners from Sanctuary for Families, Her Justice, and Shobana Powell Consulting will help you understand how to identify secondary trauma and what steps you and your organization can take to address it.

The briefing will help define vicarious trauma and how it intersects with systemic oppression; its impact on you and your customers, colleagues and organization, and how to address it; vicarious resilience; and forms of organizational support.

Your organization is committed against racism, what now ?!

In this hour-long briefing, Kimberly Jones Merchant, Director of the Racial Justice Institute at the Shriver Center on Poverty Law, explains how legal aid and public interest organizations can make their commitment to racial equity a reality.

Current events have highlighted the problem of systemic racism and the need for diversity, equity and inclusion within organizations – even those serving underrepresented communities. While establishing a commitment to fairness and injustice is an important first step, it takes knowledge and effort to put that commitment into daily practice. This briefing discusses a framework for assessing an organization’s readiness to engage in anti-racism practice and provides a basis for developing a successful racial equity plan of action.

Ethical issues in working with pro bono clients in 2021

Some pro bono clients may present ethical issues for lawyers that differ from those presented by clients paying fees or contingency fees. Lawyers sometimes face difficult questions about defining who the client is, communicating with clients, clients with reduced capacity, disputes with paying clients and many more. Representing non-profit organizations can also present difficult ethical issues that most for-profit organizations do not face.

In this hour-long briefing, Toby Rothschild will discuss some of these ethical issues, including those presented by remote practice. “After all my years in legal aid, the justice gap has not disappeared,” says Rothschild. “He only got bigger. Processing pro bono cases is one way lawyers meet this huge need. “

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