All of the information and resources provided on this page are intended for use by volunteer attorneys representing appellate clients through the Pro Bono Project of Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada.
Sample Forms & Orders
- Order Assigning Case to Appellate Pro Bono Program
- Order Setting Briefing Schedule
- Pro Bono Client Retainer
Frequently Asked Questions
The Nevada Pro Bono Appellate Program assigns counsel on a pro bono basis to represent pro se litigants in select cases before the Nevada Supreme Court or Nevada Court of Appeals. The Program’s goal is to provide pro bono counsel to pro se parties in civil appeals in which briefing and argument by counsel would benefit appellate review, and assist with the fair and efficient administration of justice.
The Program operates statewide as a partnership between the courts, legal aid providers, and the bar. The supreme court identifies cases for inclusion in the Program and issues an order referring the case to Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada (Legal Aid Center) for evaluation of the party’s eligibility. Legal Aid Center then contacts the party, screens them for legal aid eligibility, and determines if the party is willing to consent to pro bono representation. Legal Aid Center, working with the Appellate Litigation Section of the State Bar of Nevada (State Bar), coordinates the assignment of a volunteer attorney. The pro bono attorney counsels the client, and briefs and argues the case.
Since the Program’s inception in 2013 and January, 2016, pro bono counsel has been appointed on behalf of 80 clients. Several cases have resulted in published opinions. The Program’s success is due to the work of Legal Aid Center and the Appellate Litigation Section of the State Bar, in conjunction with the many attorneys who have volunteered their time and expertise.
View the Program Overview and the following FAQ’s for more information.
Legal Aid Center maintains a list of attorneys who are interested in the Program and wish to be notified when volunteer attorneys are needed for cases assigned to the Program. All Nevada licensed attorneys may participate in the Program. To be added to this list and included in the e-blast circulated to prospective volunteers, email email@example.com. Once you contact Legal Aid Center, you will be added to the email group to which we send email blasts advising of potential cases with a brief description of the cases. By adding your name to the e-blast list, you are neither required to take a case nor guaranteed an assignment. Legal Aid Center tries to be fair and inclusive in assigning volunteers.
Legal Aid Center notifies attorneys by e-blast of pending appeals in need of pro bono counsel. The e-blast contains the case name and docket number along with a brief description of the case and issue(s). The description is not binding on the courts or the parties. The docket sheet is publicly available on the Nevada Supreme Court’s website. An attorney interested in taking the appeal should respond to the e-blast or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Attorneys may also find and select cases on the Available Cases page of the Pro Bono Project website.
- What are the benefits of accepting pro bono appellate representation through the Pro Bono Appellate Program?
1) You will gain valuable experience writing briefs and arguing appeals before the Nevada Supreme Court and Nevada Court of Appeals.
2) You are almost always guaranteed oral argument before the Nevada Supreme Court or Nevada Court of Appeals.
3) Veteran lawyers in the Appellate Litigation Section of the State Bar are available to mentor you and help you prepare for oral argument with a pre-argument moot court.
4) Taking an appeal will satisfy your ethical obligation to do pro bono work, and you may report your hours to the bar and be eligible for awards and recognition.
5) You will have the opportunity to manage your own case, learn about the appellate process, and gain valuable skills to market to potential clients or senior partners.
Yes. The Program is administered by Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, which provides free attorney malpractice coverage. The coverage is primary and extends both to representation and all counsel and advice. Having access to supervisors or mentors with substantive and appellate expertise helps to ensure that volunteer attorneys are competent to handle the appeal.
Experienced mentors may be assigned to any pro bono attorney upon request. Mentors with appellate expertise, and mentors with specific subject matter expertise are available to assist. Legal Aid Center and the Appellate Litigation Section work with the volunteer attorney at the outset of the representation to ensure he or she has sufficient guidance and/or supervision to competently handle the appeal.
When oral argument is scheduled, a coordinator from the Appellate Litigation Section will contact the pro bono counsel to determine if he or she would like to participate in a moot court argument with 2-3 volunteer lawyers.
Once an attorney accepts a pro bono appeal, Legal Aid Center will email a placement packet to the attorney and inform the client to contact the attorney to set up an appointment. The attorney should meet with the client and file with the supreme court or court of appeals a notice of appearance and Statement of Legal Aid Representation (SOLA), if applicable, within the deadline provided. The court will then order a briefing schedule, including deadlines for ordering transcripts. In most cases, the district court record will already have been transmitted and filed in the supreme court and can be cited to for briefing purposes. (Sample Order)
Once counsel has entered an appearance in the appeal, the district court pleading file is accessible on the Nevada Supreme Court eFlex website. Counsel may obtain transcripts and other record materials free of charge from the district court pursuant to NRS 12.015. Counsel should attach the file-stamped Statement of Legal Aid Representation (SOLA), if applicable, to their transcript request and indicate that transcripts should be prepared at the county’s expense.
Yes. The Nevada Supreme Court and the Nevada Court of Appeals guarantee oral argument in nearly every case included in the Pro Bono Program. This commitment reflects the courts’ strong view that this Program provides a valuable service to the courts and the public. The court will set the length of argument in each case. If one party in the case remains pro se or waives oral argument, the court may not guarantee oral argument in that case.
No. Pro bono counsel may stipulate or move to waive oral argument. Such requests should include a certification that the issue was discussed with the client, and are subject to the court’s approval. If the court believes that oral argument will be of assistance, it may keep it on calendar.
The oral argument location is included in the notice indicating the court’s intent to schedule oral argument. Because of the many scheduling demands on the court, it cannot guarantee that oral argument will be held in the area where the case originated or where it is most convenient to counsel or the parties.
No. The Pro Bono Program does not reimburse attorneys or litigants for travel costs to attend oral argument. If counsel cannot travel to oral argument, he or she is encouraged to notify the court by motion as soon as possible to maximize the court’s ability to accommodate the request, which is not guaranteed.
Yes. Each volunteer attorney should enter into an agreement with the client that clearly states the scope of the representation, including whether or not the representation will extend to petitions for rehearing, reconsideration or a petition for a writ of review or certiorari. Generally, there is no expectation that the volunteer attorney represent the client in other matters, or in district (or administrative) court after remand, though some attorneys choose to do so. (Sample Pro Bono Retainer Agreement)
If you are having a problem with the client or the case you’ve been assigned, please contact Legal Aid Center’s Pro Bono Project staff to notify them of the issue. They will work with you and your client to try and resolve the issue or address any other concerns. If the attorney/client relationship breaks down and cannot be restored, the attorney may request the court’s permission to withdraw. In most situations, clients accepted into the Program will not be provided another pro bono attorney.
For Attorneys Representing Prisoners
Yes. It is wise to visit the client at least once in order to start establishing an attorney-client relationship.
First, check the Department of Corrections website to confirm the location of the client. Then call the warden’s secretary at the institution. You should advise him/her that you want an attorney contact visit. Have your client’s Inmate Number available. Be sure to use the word “contact” or you will be seeing the client behind glass and you might as well be on the telephone. Find out from the secretary what days and times are available and determine whether you need to set a specific time to visit the client. Days and times vary from institution to institution. You should arrive 20-30 minutes prior to the visit.
You can bring in one redwell of documents at most institutions. You cannot give any documents to the client and he/she cannot give any to you. Those exchanges must be done by mail. You can have documents signed and you can go over the documents you have with you.
No. Books must be sent directly from the publisher/distributor. CDs of a hearing, for instance, must be sent from the court.
These rules vary by institution and are not applied consistently. Just ask when you check in. (Some wardens think that this is not appropriate for a legal visit) You are certainly not required to purchase anything for a client but if you want to, you must bring quarters in a plastic bag. You should leave wallets and purses in the car (except for your ID and Bar card).
Generally you should not wear any denim or blue clothing, no open-toed shoes, no sleeveless tops. At least one institution prohibits visitors from wearing orange as well. Women must wear a bra and all visitors must wear underwear.
Your letters to your client should have “Attorney-Client Correspondence-Privileged” written clearly on the envelope and your name with Attorney at Law and Firm Name should be in the return address. Correspondence marked in this manner should be signed by an attorney and not by a non-attorney staff member. Do not include anything other than case-related documents in the envelope.
Access to phones for the client is unpredictable and inconsistent. In other words, you may set a time for a phone call from the client, but he/she may not be able to access a phone at that time. You cannot call into an inmate at the institution. Usually the client will be calling you collect and the prison telephone contractors charge exorbitant rates for collect calls from prisons. If the client is over-using collect calls, it is reasonable to limit the number of calls and the length. Third party calls are prohibited so if it sounds as if the client is calling a third party and patching you in, not only is confidentiality lost (although the phone call is probably being monitored anyway) but it is a rule violation.
There will be a guard nearby in the visiting room. In fact, if there is no attorney visiting room, you may ask to be moved far enough away from the guard and other visitors in order to have a private conversation. Your client will be grateful for your assistance and incidents between inmates and attorneys are virtually non-existent.
View our general Volunteer FAQ for more information on representing clients through the Pro Bono Project.
In the legal field, the term pro bono refers to legal work that is performed voluntarily and free of charge. A lawyer may take on a case for free because he or she believes the case has merit or is important, or simply to help the court and the individual. The phrase “pro bono” comes from the Latin term pro bono publico, which means for the public good. When a lawyer works pro bono, he or she is said to be working for the public good.
Appeals are evaluated and selected by supreme court staff for their suitability for the Pro Bono Program. These cases have been pre-screened by a staff attorney based on a determination that briefing and argument by counsel would benefit appellate review and assist with the fair and efficient administration of justice.
Appeals are referred to the Pro Bono Program because court staff has determined that pro bono representation may assist the party and the court in resolving the appeal.
No. Legal Aid Center, in collaboration with the Appellate Litigation Section of the State Bar, coordinates assignment of pro bono attorneys to pro se litigants. You must cooperate with the pro bono attorney assigned to your case. You are not required to participate in the Program.
- Does my income need to be under a certain limit to qualify for participation in the Pro Bono Program?
Yes. To be eligible for participation in the Program, your income must conform to certain financial guidelines established for the Program. Legal Aid Center will need you to provide documentation to verify your income eligibility. If, however, the district court has already determined that you are indigent and has allowed you to proceed in forma pauperis, further financial screening will not be necessary.
No. Pro bono attorneys are performing a service on a pro bono basis and do not charge fees for the services provided. However, if there are litigation costs that cannot be waived, the client may be responsible for those costs.
You may request that your case be considered for the Program, and the court will evaluate your case pursuant to the established guidelines. Likewise, if you do not wish your case to be considered for the Program, you may so inform the court.
If you are having an issue with the lawyer assigned to your case, you may contact Legal Aid Center’s Pro Bono Project staff at email@example.com or 702-386-1444 to discuss the matter. They will work with you and your pro bono attorney in order to resolve the issue and improve your working relationship. If the attorney/client relationship breaks down and cannot be restored, your attorney may request to withdraw from the case or you may choose to terminate their representation. In most situations, clients accepted into the Program will not be provided another pro bono attorney.
The pro bono attorney assigned to your case is not expected to represent you in district (or administrative) court after remand (or in any other matter). If your case is remanded and your pro bono attorney cannot represent you, you may apply for help by contacting Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada. Your case will be evaluated based on income eligibility, the merits of your case and Legal Aid Center’s priorities and existing resources. If your case is in Northern Nevada, you should contact your local legal aid provider.
- Five Reasons to do Pro Bono Appeals by Dan Polsenberg
- Pro Bono: An Appealing Opportunity by Seth Floyd
- The Pro Bono Appellate Program Needs You by Rachelle Resnick
- A Success Story From Nevada’s Pro Bono Appellate Program by Tracy DiFillippo
- Taking Pro Bono to the Next Level by Anne Traum