Pro Bono

What We Offer

Through our pro bono program, we provide local LDS church leaders with a legal resource to help needy members and others. This program is not administered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; it is a voluntary effort by members and friends of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society.

Priesthood Leader Guidelines

Who Can Participate

Because this program is relatively new, we are currently offering assistance only in the following stakes:

  • Suitland Maryland Stake
  • Mount Vernon Virginia Stake
  • Silver Spring Maryland Stake

Make a Referral

To refer someone who needs legal services, please contact the chair of our pro bono committee:

Erek Loosli,

Get Your Stake Involved

To start this program in your stake or ward, please email us. We will introduce the program to church leaders in your area.

Church Legal Matters

For legal matters involving the church, the Stake President should contact:

Office of General Counsel, Salt Lake City
(801) 240-6301
(800) 453-3860 ext. 2-6301

See p. 178 of the Church Handbook of Instructions (Book 1).

Attorney Guidelines for Pro Bono Service

1. Priesthood Interview

A priesthood leader (usually a bishop) should determine the need for legal services based on church welfare principles. In general, the priesthood leader should not pass judgment on the merits of any legal matter. And at all times the priesthood leader must maintain the member's confidences.

2. Referral

Once the need for legal services has been established, refer the member to the JRCLS pro bono coordinators by contacting Jonathan Jacobs (202-737-3378) or Dustin Palmer (202-282-8940).

When contacting the pro bono coordinators, be sure to communicate enough facts to understand the nature of the case, but without disclosing confidences covered under the priest-penitent privilege.

The priesthood leader may, as appropriate, assign a member of the Ward Welfare Committee, home teacher, or other responsible person to contact the JRCLS pro bono coordinators. The referral process includes the following steps:
  1. Contacting the pro bono coordinators;
  2. Helping the member gather the necessary information and documentation the volunteer attorney needs;
  3. Helping the member arrive on time to any appointments with the volunteer attorney.
3. Attorney-Client Relationship

Please remember that the needy member retains the attorney; the church and priesthood leader do not. After the member retains an attorney, the priesthood leader and other assigned members should not:
  1. Encourage or attempt to control the progress or termination of services by the attorney;
  2. Make comments about the attorney's competence or the quality of advice rendered; or
  3. Attend conferences or participate in telephone calls between the member and the attorney.
4. Church Support after Attorney Has Been Retained

Although the priesthood leader and other assigned members should not communicate with the attorney in any way substantively related to the referred matter, the following are ways in which the priesthood leader and other assigned members can help once the matter has been referred to an attorney:
  1. Coordinating appointments with the attorney's office;
  2. Assisting the member negotiate a reduced fee or pro bono agreement for the attorney's services; and
  3. Providing other logistical support as necessary.
If at anytime the priesthood leader needs to speak with the member's attorney (for example, when the legal matter bears on an ecclesiastical matter being handled by the priesthood leader), the priesthood leader should contact the Office of General Counsel for approval. As directed by the Office of General Counsel, it may be advisable to obtain written consent of the member to have such a discussion.

5. Payment of Attorneys' Fees

Most attorneys in the JRCLS pro bono program are willing to provide legal services at no cost. That said, the priesthood leader may wish to explore the needy individual's ability to pay some reasonable portion of the legal services even if the amount is small and payment is spread over time. Financial resources from the person's immediate and extended family may also be explored.

Any use of fast offering funds for legal fees and expenses should be done in a manner consistent with the general church welfare principles. In general, financial assistance for attorneys' fees may only be given in non-adversarial matters, such as matters regarding legal status or immigration, social security, disability benefits, or uncontested estate planning matters.

6. Limitations of Matters

The JRCLS pro bono program does not normally get involved in civil rights, employment discrimination/harassment, product liability, personal injury, antitrust, commercial disputes, criminal defense, and out-of-state matters.

Other matters may also be limited due to volunteer attorneys' knowledge, specialties, and availability.

Subject to the availability of legal resources, we are generally able to represent individuals in the following matters: bankruptcy, disability and workers compensation, domestic violence, divorce, custody determinations, family law, immigration, employment law, estate planning, tax, and landlord tenant.

7. Coordination with Other Programs

If the JRCLS pro bono program is unable to refer the member to a volunteer attorney within the program, the pro bono coordinators will attempt to identify other organizations or pro bono programs that may be available and/or more tailored to the particular needs of the member.

8. No Guarantee of Outcome

We do not and cannot guarantee the outcome in any matter. Our comments about the outcome of any matter are expressions of opinion only.