The Firm routinely considers cases for pro bono representation. To be considered for pro bono representation, a potential client must either (1) engage in our ordinary intake process (including the $595 fee for the Legal Needs Analysis), or (2) be referred to the Firm by a non-profit, such as Volunteer Lawyers for Justice, Education Law Center, Legal Services New Jersey, or Disability Rights New Jersey. If you are referred by one of these agencies, the Firm will not charge you for its services at any stage.
The Firm’s standard for accepting a case pro bono is that we believe (after meeting with you) that you are entitled to judgment as a matter of law, regardless of any disagreements about the facts. Examples of such cases are below:
The above are only examples. The Firm will make an independent legal judgment about each individual case. In short, we accept pro bono cases only after deciding that the client’s right to judgment does not depend on the judge’s discretion in deciding which witness to believe.
Settlement of Pro Bono Cases
It’s important for clients to understand the difference between “pro bono” and free. New Jersey Rules of Court define pro bono legal services as those legal services provided without expectation of payment by the client. And, in cases that are eligible for our pro bono representation, we do not expect the client to pay us at all. We expect that we will take the case to a hearing and, if we win, we’ll file a fee application, and if we lose, we will get paid nothing.
But if a pro bono client settles their case, and waives prevailing party fees, as all clients have the right to do, then the client may become liable to the firm for any fees so waived. So a client who agrees to these terms, but does not have the money to pay for a fee waiver demanded by a school district as a condition of settlement, may not be able to settle. What this means is that our legal services are not provided for free. Accepting our services on a pro bono basis, while we reserve the right to prevailing party fees, may make it more difficult to settle your case than if you pay an attorney.
The firm adopted these policies in order to make it possible to accept far more pro bono cases than we ever could if every client had the right to waive our right to payment.