Request for General Approval to Engage In Pro Bono Work For A Clinic or Legal Services Provider

Sample request to component head for GENERAL APPROVAL by component head for a clinic or legal services provider.

This is to request general approval for attorneys within the [component] to participate on a voluntary basis in the DOJ Pro Bono Program with the [legal services provider]. A description of the program is attached.

Under this program, attorneys participate [provide description, e.g.: for two hours on Saturday mornings at a walk-in clinic, in providing advice and referral services to low income individuals.] The attorneys take no cases with them; they provide information and advice, and if the case requires more, provide referral information. The [legal services provider] provides a reference manual for volunteers, and mentors (attorneys expert in subject areas likely to arise) are present at the clinic. Attorneys who are not D.C. Bar members may participate. If an individual has an issue that would involve federal government benefits or other federal programs that might create a conflict of interest or other ethical issue, that individual would be referred to a non-government attorney volunteer.

If this program is given general approval, the volunteer may participate in the clinic and perform minimal follow-up activity without further approval, and the volunteer will notify his or her supervisor of his or her participation. If the volunteer takes a case as a result of participating in the clinic, the volunteer will consult with his or her ethics official and supervisor and obtain written approval from the supervisor that reflects a case-specific conflicts check for the matter.

By copy of this memo, volunteers are reminded that the restrictions of 18 U.S.C. § 205 apply to all pro bono activities. With limited exceptions, this statute prohibits a federal employee from representing a person before any agency, department or court in any matter in which the United States is a party or has a substantial interest. Volunteers are also reminded that under the Department's outside employment regulation they may not participate in any criminal or habeas corpus matter, at the Federal, state or local level or in any matter in which the Department of Justice is or represents a party, litigant, investigator or grant-maker. 5 CFR 3801.106. Volunteers may not participate in any matter that involves a subject matter, policy or program of the [component]. Participants have a continuing obligation to be alert to situations that may arise during the course of representation, such as changes in the facts or law of the case, that would preclude further participation. Volunteers are also reminded to familiarize themselves with the Department's policy on pro bono legal and volunteer services with special attention to Section V, Use of Agency Resources, and of the prohibition on using their official position in connection with representation of any person.

Recommended for General Approval:


Request Approved:

Component Head
Updated September 4, 2014

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