Online Clinic Expands Access to Legal Help
California Lawyer

Online Clinic Expands Access to Legal Help

May 2014

Time-pressed attorneys can now chat with pro bono clients from home, the office, or anywhere they have Internet access and a Web cam. The Pro Bono Project, which provides legal help for low-income people across Santa Clara County, offers free, live legal advice through its Virtual Legal Services Program, among the first of its kind.

Lawyers with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs have expressed interest in replicating the service, starting in San Jose with an eye toward going national. The Legal Aid Society's Employment Law Center in San Francisco, Bet Tzedek in Los Angeles, and the State Bar of Illinois also are talking with the nonprofit about creating similar clinics.

Launched last August, the program served more than 110 community members in its first six months. Clients are offered private space at half a dozen libraries and community centers, where they can confer online with participating lawyers about matters involving family law, immigration, and other civil issues.

Sandra C. Madrigal, executive director of the Pro Bono Project, says volunteer lawyers like the efficiency of this user-friendly opportunity (they can help up to four people during a two-hour clinic), and she says clients are grateful for valuable, free assistance.

Please tell us about your pro bono triumphs and upcoming volunteer opportunities. Email

We welcome your comments!


E-mail: (will not be published)

By submitting a comment, you agree to abide by our comment policy.

Enter the characters on the left: