OneJustice, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, and Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County launch statewide pro bono training website.
Legal services organization staff person leading a training at a Justice Bus clinic last year.
Training is one of the first steps a pro bono attorney takes to deliver justice to those who need it. Many pro bono attorneys have vast knowledge in their own particular area of law, but may not have the most experience defending their client against an unlawful detainer or working with an interpreter. Training – particularly by legal services organizations – helps grow the pro bono attorney’s knowledge so they can guide their client to a just outcome.
Trainings are being held all over the state by legal services staff, who juggle already jam-packed schedules. Due to limited staff and limited time, many of these trainings can only prepare volunteer attorneys for a single clinic, but doesn’t necessarily provide them with skills for the rest of their career. To meet this need and assist overextended legal service organizations, OneJustice, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, and Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County came together to create the Pro Bono Training Institute (PBTI) in 2015, thanks to the Legal Services Corporation’s Pro Bono Innovation Grant. The three organizations are working to bring together California’s nonprofit and private legal sectors to develop online trainings with the goal of standardizing training production throughout the state.
What is the Pro Bono Training Institute?
Patrick Fodell, Training Institute Coordinator, working on a webinar for the Pro Bono Training Institute.
The Pro Bono Training Institute’s goal is to produce universal, interactive, and on-demand trainings that will be available to any pro bono attorney, law student, or advocate who would like to volunteer at a legal aid organization. What’s unique about PBTI is that it’s making these trainings more time efficient and interactive. We went ahead and cut up a large bulky training into bite size training modules that can be absorbed during a potential volunteer’s lunch, commute home, or even during a meeting (we won’t tell!). Our built-in quizzes and interactive activities help engage the learner, so he or she absorbs and retains more information during each training module. By allowing the attorney to view these trainings at their leisure and making each one interactive, PBTI hopes to increase the number of trained pro bono attorneys ready to assist those who need justice throughout California.
Finally, the most innovative aspect of PBTI is that each training will be universal. Using the expertise of trainers throughout the state, we will be able to solidify the basic learning objectives on large training topics such as asylum, expungement, and housing matters. We hope that in the future an attorney in Los Angeles can view a training on expungements during the week and be ready to volunteer at a legal clinic in Fresno that weekend. With your help, we can give a new justice-filled meaning to the term “Weekend Warrior.”
How to Get Involved?
We would love your knowledge on substantive legal information. Let us know if you want to create a training with PBTI on a topic that helps your organization train your volunteers! We’ve reached out to many of you in 2015, but our goal is to reach out to more of you in 2016.
Interested in hearing about the Training Institute? Like our Facebook and LinkedIn pages to keep updated with all of our upcoming trainings, news, and ways to get involved, as well as how to use PBTI to volunteer at a local legal aid organization!