Pro Bono Program
In exceptional cases, the District Court may appoint pro bono (e.g., unpaid) counsel for an indigent pro se litigant in a civil case. Pro se litigants can ask the Court by a motion to appoint pro bono counsel. The District Court then sometimes asks the coordinators of the Pro Bono Program to attempt to find an attorney who is willing to represent the pro se litigant on a pro bono basis. Appointment of counsel is infrequent, and the Program is not always able to find volunteer attorneys when asked.
For Lawyers Interested in Volunteering
The United States District Court for the District of Arizona established a pro bono program in 2007 for the handling by counsel of a limited number of pro se cases. The program, suggested to and then coordinated for the District Court by the Lawyer Representatives of the District of Arizona, matches willing law firms and counsel with pro se lawsuits that District Judges and Magistrate Judges determine would benefit particularly from the appointment of counsel. Volunteering merely means that a law firm or lawyer will periodically receive e-mails summarizing available cases, which volunteer counsel are free to choose among and reject; there is no appointment against the wishes of potential volunteers, merely opportunities for them to examine. A majority of the cases are civil rights lawsuits brought by presently or formerly confined persons, but others present family law, employment law, or other issues. Volunteers have reported at District Conferences and to the coordinators that the deposition and trial opportunities in this program provide excellent training and mentoring opportunities for up-and-coming lawyers, while serving the District Court and indigent litigants. The program has led to appointment in roughly thirty cases in two years, making it one of the more successful programs in the West. As an added bonus, with the permission of the Ninth Circuit's Office of the Circuit Executive, firms or lawyers who actually take one or more of these pro bono cases receive a priority above other volunteers for pro se matters in the Ninth Circuit's parallel program, in which argument before the Ninth Circuit is guaranteed and travel to that argument paid for lawyers practicing within the Ninth Circuit. To learn more about the program and opportunities in it, or to volunteer to participate in and help coordinate the program, please contact one of the co-coordinators:
Forms For Volunteers
If you or lawyers in your firm are interested in volunteering, you may but are not required to return the form below for lawyers to one of the following co-coordinators: Andrew Jacobs, email@example.com, 520.882.1207, Snell & Wilmer, One South Church Avenue, Suite 1500, Tucson, Arizona, 85701, or Geoffrey M.T. Sturr, 602.640.9377, firstname.lastname@example.org, 2929 North Central Avenue, Twenty-First Floor, Phoenix, Arizona, 85012. The co-coordinators will then periodically provide you with information about cases you may consider taking, as the Court provides those matters to the co-coordinators.
To illustrate the kind of information you would receive after volunteering, you can view below a .pdf of the form the coordinators provide to chambers, which chambers fills out to describe matters, and which the coordinators then relay to you. Typically, chambers will not only summarize the matter in a sentence or two, but will also provide .pdf files of important documents in the pro se case, such as complaints and rulings on summary judgment motions, which the coordinators will forward to volunteers to review in considering whether to take particular matters.