VLP provides a range of services to eligible clients. All VLP services are provided by trained volunteers and volunteer attorneys, supported by VLP staff. VLP receives thousands of calls for help every year. Unfortunately, we do not have enough volunteer lawyers to provide a referral to a free attorney for everyone.
Legal Intake Line: When you contact VLP, a trained volunteer will conduct an intake interview over the telephone with you to gather important information about your legal problem and determine if you are eligible for VLP services. WE DO NOT CONDUCT FAMILY INTAKES BY PHONE. During this call, the VLP volunteer will consult with a staff supervisor to decide the best way to assist you. If you are eligible for services, the volunteer will give you information over the phone and may also send you written materials about your legal problem. We may refer you to other agencies in your community that can provide help. We will also determine if your case meets VLP priorities for the Family Law Helpline or for referral to a pro bono (volunteer) lawyer.
Courthouse Assistance Projects (CHAPs): Attorney volunteers provide help with FAMILY LAW MATTERS at the District Courts in Augusta, Bangor, Biddeford, Ellsworth, Lewiston, and Portland. You may come to the courthouse at the designated times for a brief free conference with a lawyer. Please find more information on walk-in clinics here.
The attorney can assist you in understanding and planning for your upcoming court appointments, filling out court forms and making decisions about your case, however, you will be representing yourself in court.
You may also return to CHAP as you go through the different stages of your family matter.
Referral to a Pro Bono Lawyer: VLP refers approximately one tenth of our cases to volunteer attorneys who provide free or reduced fee legal representation.
Representation may be for one aspect of your case or it may be for the entire case. Because we do not have enough volunteer lawyers for everyone, we choose cases for referral based on a series of case referral priorities and lawyer availability in your geographic area. VLP staff will make the decision whether to look for a volunteer lawyer for your case as part of your intake interview. Acceptance of your case for referral does not guarantee we will find a lawyer willing to take it.
While your lawyer will provide his or her services for free, you will be responsible for court costs in your case. It is very important that you make an effort to work cooperatively with your pro bono attorney. If you are not able to work cooperatively with your VLP lawyer, your lawyer may decide to stop representing you and the VLP will likely not find you another lawyer.