All of the information and resources provided on this page are intended for use by volunteer attorneys representing bankruptcy clients through the Pro Bono Project of Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada. If you are a volunteer attorney and have questions regarding these materials, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sample Pleadings and Forms
*Additional bankruptcy forms can be found on the United States Bankruptcy Court District of Nevada website.
Legal Aid Center Client Forms
- Pro Bono Client Guidelines
- Pro Bono Client Guidelines (Spanish)
- Pro Bono Client Guidelines – Bankruptcy Litigation
- Pro Bono Client Guidelines – Bankruptcy Litigation (Spanish)
- Pro Bono Client Retainer
- Pro Bono Client Retainer (Spanish)
Frequently Asked Questions
Clients must attend our free Bankruptcy legal information class (a joint project with the William S. Boyd School of Law) as the first step in applying for a pro bono attorney to file a Chapter 7 case. At the end of the class, attendees are given the application packet for pro bono services. At the intake, clients are screened for income eligibility and must provide the documents that will be needed to file the case and provide to the trustee, including bank statements, tax returns, and judgments.
When the applicants have completed the intake process and provided all of the required documents, their case will be reviewed by Legal Aid Center’s attorneys. If approved for placement, the Pro Bono Project locates a volunteer attorney to assist the client and provides the attorney with the client’s package of documents.
We make every effort to make the experience of representing a pro bono client as easy as possible for the volunteer attorneys. The clients have an understanding of bankruptcy and have been thoroughly screened; any issues identified are noted for the pro bono attorney. Once attorneys accept a pro bono case, the Pro Bono Project will email the attorney the client file including an Intake Questionnaire, Photo ID, Social Security Card, Income Verification, Itemized List of Debt, Bank Statements, Credit Counseling Certificate, Credit Reports, Tax Returns/Tax Transcripts, Divorce Decree, and Judgments
Attorneys who take pro bono Chapter 7 cases are included on our Bankruptcy Attorney Referral List, which we provide to applicants who are over our income guidelines. The Attorney Referral List indicates whether the attorney speaks Spanish or handles Chapter 13 cases, as we have people who attend the class who are interested in filing a Chapter 13, which we do not place pro bono.
We ask that attorneys interested in taking a pro bono Chapter 7 case have an ECF account with the Bankruptcy Court and be able to file electronically.
Unrepresented litigants in need of representation in a previously filed Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case are referred to the Pro Bono Project by the Court, Trustees, Bankruptcy Facilitator, and the U.S. Trustee’s office. The litigant’s case is screened to determine the assistance best suited for the client’s situation. In some cases, the clients will be provided with counsel and advice or brief service by one of Legal Aid Center’s staff attorneys. In other cases, the clients need assistance with revision/completion of schedules or adversary proceedings and will be referred for pro bono counsel.
Tip 1: Conduct your first client meeting.
Your first meeting with the client is very important. You should meet face-to-face and conduct your own interview, even if the referring program has already done one. The interview provides an excellent opportunity for building trust and rapport with your client; helps uncover details and information that may not initially have been available; and, since the client may not have the same level of involvement as a paying client, it’s also an opportunity for the client to feel more personally invested in his or her case. You must also set clear expectations and make sure your client understands your respective duties. You can do this by going over the retainer agreement that the legal service program provides all its volunteer attorneys. This interview is also a good time to address the issue of punctuality in regard to appointments and court dates, and to make sure you have thorough contact information, including alternate phone numbers, emergency contacts, etc.
Tip 2: Understand your client’s circumstances.
Clients may have difficulty balancing their employment, child care and financial hardships with the tasks involved in filing for bankruptcy. It is therefore important to think ahead and be as flexible as possible. For example, ask clients about the best times to reach them, as well as their work schedules, so that court appearances can be set during their days off. This will lessen the impact on their employment. Financial hardship may also contribute to communication and scheduling issues. Consider providing your clients with a stack of self-addressed, stamped envelopes. If you need documents from clients, give them advance notice so they can bring the relevant documents to a scheduled meeting for you to copy. Ask clients if they plan to bring their children to an
appointment or court appearance due to lack of child care resources. This way, you can be prepared for the children’s presence. Depending on the degree of the client’s sophistication, imparting legal information may be challenging and more time-consuming. Therefore, it is important to be both patient and firm while counseling your client. Try to explain concepts clearly without too much “legalese” and without condescension.
Tip 3: Notify the court.
Most judges will allow pro bono attorneys to have their cases heard first. Consequently, always make sure to notify the courtroom staff that you are representing your client pro bono; that way you and your clients can avoid waiting unnecessarily for the case to be called.
Tip 4: Finish your case.
When you finish your pro bono case, you should send the client a disengagement letter, make sure the client has the relevant court documents and notify the Pro Bono Project as to the outcome and hours performed on the case via the online final disposition form. This information is critical for legal aid programs, which rely on the data for their much-needed funding.
View our general Volunteer FAQ for more information on representing clients through the Pro Bono Project.
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