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- Legal Clinics in Tennessee
Pro Bono Clinic in a Box
The Access to Justice Commission developed a Pro Bono Clinic in a Box to help lawyers start a pro bono clinic. This web page contains all the information and administrative forms you will need to begin operating a pro bono clinic in your area.
John Blankenship, an attorney and one of the founders of the Rutherford/Cannon County Legal Clinic, describes the history and success of the clinic. The ATJ Commission hopes that the Pro Bono Clinic in a Box forms will help you organize a clinic that can be just as rewarding and successful as the Rutherford/Cannon County Legal Clinic.
"The clinic has had enjoyed a unique evolution. What began as a faith based initiative evolved into a non-faith based program of the RCCBA and then morphed into faith based, non-faith based partnership. Over 15 years ago a group of attorneys in Murfreesboro were involved in a weekly bible study. One of the weekly discussions involved justice for the poor and downtrodden, and it was from this discussion that the idea of a weekly, free legal clinic was born.
Protocols and procedures have developed over the years, and the clinic continues to evolve in terms of organization, forms, records, maximum number of clients seen each week and so forth, but the basic tenets of the clinic have remained unchanged:
- Free legal advice/referral each Thursday afternoon from 4 to 6 pm.
- Clients are seen on a first come first served basis.
- A minimum of two attorneys attend and provide services each week.
- No qualifying requirements or red tape of any kind to be seen by an attorney. (We have found that this process is seldom abused by those who can afford an attorney, and when it appears that a client can and should employ private counsel that is one of the items of advice given.)
- The clinic is basically a one-time advice/referral clinic. However, each attorney has the discretion to accept formal representation of the client in their matter on a pro bono, reduced fee or other basis.
Those who began and continue to participate in the clinic believe it has enjoyed its success because of its simplicity. The primary goal of the clinic is to put a person in need and who has a legal problem face to face with an attorney. This is not only very difficult for such persons to achieve on their own, it is, in most cases, the solution to their problem. Most of the issues presented at the clinic are either not really a “legal problem,” or they can be resolved by advice or referral. And, most importantly, the clients receive tremendous satisfaction by, finally, being able to meet face to face with an attorney, have that attorney listen to them, and then provide them the much needed and much desired information that has been besetting them.
Access to Justice has become a call to duty for all Tennessee attorneys, and the most fundamental, critical and essential step in fulfilling this duty is to put those needing and seeking access face to face with a lawyer. This is essentially the mission statement of the RCCBA legal clinic."