A crisis exists for millions of low-income workers in the United States who are unable to access the civil justice system when they are confronted with an employment-related dispute. Recognizing that pro bono service is a responsibility of the legal profession to society, NELA encourages our members and Affiliate members to render pro bono legal assistance to workers of limited means. As employee advocates for equality and justice in the American workplace, NELA members and NELA Affiliate members can make a significant contribution in helping to close this "justice gap."
NELA's Commitment To Pro Bono: Serving The Public Good
A Message From Our Founder
"National and state-based studies consistently show that despite the combined effort of the private bar and legal aid organizations around 80% of the civil legal needs of low-income persons go unmet. Similarly, thousands of people face workplace-related disputes each year but are unable to find a lawyer to help them with understanding their basic workplace rights or to represent them. NELA members and Affiliate members can play a critical role in ensuring that all employees, regardless of their means, have access to justice by providing pro bono legal services to employees who cannot afford an attorney."
- Paul H. Tobias, NELA Founder
Equal Justice For All Workers
NELA's Pro Bono Project connects workers' rights attorneys with existing volunteer opportunities in their own communities.
Pro bono services may include, but is not limited to, legal representation, advice, or counseling without a fee or expectation of a fee to persons of limited means; volunteering at established workers' rights clinics; or collaborating with legal services organizations and worker centers.
Through our "Aspirational Statement Encouraging NELA Members & Affiliate Members To Engage In Voluntary Pro Bono Publico Service," NELA recognizes pro bono activities are an important professional responsibility for our members as employee advocates. In accordance with the definitions of pro bono in the American Bar Association Model Rule of Professional Conduct 6.1, NELA members and Affiliate members are encouraged to provide at least 50 hours of pro bono publico legal services per year through direct assistance to workers of limited financial means. Please consult with your own state licensing entity to ensure compliance with your state's pro bono requirements.
A Community Of Advocates: How Can You Do Pro Bono?
You can find employment law volunteer opportunities through Pro Bono Net, a national nonprofit organization "dedicated to increasing access to justice through innovative uses of technology and increased volunteer lawyer participation." Pro Bono Net compiles resources for attorneys seeking to provide pro bono services in their own communities, including:
You may also collaborate with local legal aid organizations, law schools, and worker centers to help build a community of pro bono employment advocates.
I need to speak to a lawyer.
Can NELA help me?
NELA is a professional organization that serves lawyers who advocate for equality and justice in the American workplace through educational programs, publications, and technical support. NELA does not provide direct legal advice, counseling, or representation to the public. If you need an employment lawyer, you may search for one using our Find-A-Lawyer Directory.
To find out if you qualify for free legal aid or pro bono assistance, you can contact state or local legal aid provider(s). NELA members and Affiliate members partner with these programs to provide pro bono assistance.
Resources For Employees
Resources For Lawyers
Pro Bono Committee
Brian East (TX)
Rebecca L. Salawdeh (WI)
David L. Kern (TX)
Victoria W. Ni (CA)
Rosemary Orsini (CO)
Scott M. Pollins (PA)