Idaho Law Foundation: Overview of the Idaho Volunteer Lawyers Program by Jennifer M. Schindele

by Jennifer M. Schindele

The Idaho Volunteer Lawyers Program (“IVLP”) receives over 5,000 requests per year for legal assistance from underserved populations who are facing a civil legal issue and cannot afford an attorney. As our state’s population grows, the ability to provide legal aid becomes more challenging. IVLP has continued to evolve and enhance our program to serve as many Idahoans as possible. This includes expanding advice and counsel clinics (in person and telephone) in addition to recruiting for full representation for those with the greatest need.

For the past five years, IVLP has used the platform Idaho Pro Bono Opportunities (“PBOW”) to connect with potential volunteer attorneys. As our services grew, it was determined that the PBOW platform had limitations preventing easy access to potential volunteers. IVLP has migrated to a different system, which simplifies the process of finding, managing, and tracking pro bono cases.   

Paladin offers a user-friendly interface that connects attorneys with pro bono opportunities tailored to their location, expertise, and interest. In addition, there is no username and password to remember, and it can easily be found on the IVLP website.[i]

Attorneys have unique goals for pro bono work. To support those goals IVLP strives to offer a variety of opportunities with varying degrees of expertise and time required:

Telephone Advice and Counsel Clinics – Attorneys can offer a half hour of advice and counsel from their location around their schedule. The clients in the telephone clinics have completed a full application for service, been financially screened, and have received a legal review determining that they would benefit from brief services. Telephone advice and counsel clinics are scheduled with the attorney by case type and area of expertise and offer statewide services to applicants who are in rural areas, or districts with a limited number of volunteers.

In-Person Advice and Counsel Clinics – These clinics are scheduled from a clinic registration request and are general in nature. While IVLP will generally not schedule anyone with a criminal or fee generating issue, in-person clinics are an opportunity to work with people experiencing a variety of legal issues. Newer attorneys can gain experience in these clinics, while other attorneys may be looking to step outside of their general practice area. In-person clinics are a great way for more experienced attorneys to share their expertise with other volunteers.

Limited Representation – Finding attorneys available to represent a client in their case is not always possible. There are times when some representation is better than none. In this opportunity, the representation is limited in scope so that the attorney can agree to handle just one part of the client’s legal matter. For example, a volunteer could file a limited notice of appearance solely for purposes of a specific motion hearing. While not overly time consuming, this limited representation can help the client overcome hurdles that might otherwise prevent them from continuing the litigation on their own.

Full Representation – Once applicants have gone through a full financial eligibility screening and in-depth interview process (which includes review of documents), they receive a complete legal review. When IVLP is recruiting attorneys to represent someone in court, it has been determined that the person is at risk without it. When you accept a case through IVLP you know your time will be spent helping clients with the greatest need.

Streamline Cases – Many attorneys who have agreed to represent a client pro bono may refer the client to IVLP to take advantage of the benefits of pro bono practice through IVLP such as malpractice insurance or fee waivers. 

Visit and Paladin Pro Bono Opportunities for more information about how you can join the valuable group of volunteer attorneys making the time to make a difference in Idaho. 

Contact Jennifer Schindele at for more information on how IVLP can support your pro bono work.

Jennifer M. Schindele

Jennifer M. Schindele is the Director of the Idaho Volunteer Lawyers Program. Jennifer earned an English degree at the University of Idaho and completed law school at the University of Idaho College of Law. Jennifer enjoys spending time with her family, playing soccer, and exploring Idaho’s outdoors.