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Top Pro Bono Needs in Virginia
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A survey by the VBA Pro Bono Council

In January 2016, the VBA Pro Bono Council’s Committee on Unmet Needs asked executive directors and program leaders of 37 nonprofit legal providers in Virginia to take part in a survey. The survey sought to identify Virginia’s top needs, by type of case, for pro bono assistance from the private bar.

Eight local direct-service legal aid programs and 10 other nonprofit legal providers responded. They indicated that they had placed 5,202 cases in 2015, but could have placed 9,300 with more pro bono volunteers. This gap of 4,100 cases does not describe the total additional pro bono need in Virginia, just the number of additional cases that could have been placed by the current providers using current staff.

Some providers serve hundreds of clients with pro bono volunteers each year and would like to serve hundreds more, while some small providers serve dozens and would like to serve dozens more.

Top 10 Statewide Pro Bono Needs

These case types received the most provider votes for “strong need.”

  1. Private landlord/tenant
  2. Divorce/separation/annulment
  3. Custody/visitation
  4. Wills/estates
  5. Advance directives/powers of attorney
  6. Bankruptcy/debtor relief
  7. Adult guardianship/conservator
  8. Domestic abuse
  9. Collections (including repossession/garnishment)
  10. Support

Survey respondents rated the relative time needed to handle a matter and the complexity for each case type. Of the top 10 needs, the time needed is low in all but these three categories: Divorce and Support were rated medium and Custody was rated high. The complexity level was rated as low in all but one category. Bankruptcy was rated medium in complexity.

View the complete list of Statewide Needs [PDF]

Program Needs

The committee also reported the Strongest Pro Bono Needs [PDF] by providers that participated in the survey, including contact information and additional comments.

The full report on the survey results is compiled in the Top Pro Bono Needs in Virginia, 2016 [PDF].

Read Full Report

The lists are starting points for understanding of the types of legal problems most often faced by low-income Virginians for which providers need help from the private bar.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities and get involved, please contact the providers directly, and visit the VBA Pro Bono Council, and the VSB Pro Bono resources page.

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