Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts of Massachusetts Terms of Service
Legal assistance from the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (the VLA) is free to individual artists who have been approved based on financial information provided to the VLA on the application. If your income increases so that you no longer qualify for free legal services, you agree to notify the VLA immediately. Any client who misrepresents his financial circumstances will be responsible for the full amount of legal fees incurred and may be required to reimburse the VLA for related expenses. By signing this application you acknowledge and represent that you have provided the VLA with accurate financial information and understand that you will be held liable for any fees incurred by your volunteer lawyer should you misrepresent your financial circumstances.
Any information obtained by the VLA in the process of working with you, including client communication, information and materials, is treated as confidential unless you direct us otherwise. While the VLA strives to create learning opportunities and an open office environment, we are committed to protecting your privacy and require all persons with access to confidential information to sign a Pledge of Confidentiality. These persons could include volunteers, interns and/or other employees of the Arts & Business Council. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns about the confidentiality of your information.
If, after your initial consultation with the VLA, you need further legal assistance, your case may be referred to a volunteer lawyer. Placement with a volunteer lawyer typically takes between two to three weeks. We make our best effort to find a volunteer lawyer for every qualified and eligible applicant, but because of the volunteer nature of our panel, we cannot guarantee a referral.
The VLA will notify you by email when we locate a volunteer lawyer who has agreed to provide you with pro bono assistance. We will advise you of his/her phone number at the time. As this is our primary method of contact, please notify us of any change in your phone number or email address immediately. IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO CALL YOUR VOLUNTEER LAWYER PROMPTLY.
If at any point you no longer need the assistance of your volunteer lawyer or you have any problem or difficulty with your case or your volunteer, please contact the VLA immediately.
Although you will not pay for your volunteer lawyer’s time, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY OUT-OF-POCKET EXPENSES including filing fees, long-distance phone calls, charges for copying, messengers, etc. that may be required in relation to your case. It is your responsibility to discuss potential expenses with your volunteer lawyer.
YOUR VOLUNTEER LAWYER IS NOT YOUR GENERAL COUNSEL. They are your lawyer only for the specific matter assigned. If you require assistance with a different legal problem, you must return to the VLA for reassignment. If you return to the original lawyer with new questions or legal problems without contacting the VLA, that lawyer is then free to charge you for any help he/she chooses to provide. Please notify the VLA if you choose to become a paying client of your volunteer lawyer for any additional matters.
When you seek assistance for a patent application, referral from the VLA to an attorney for assessment should NOT be taken as a judgment as to whether or not anything is patentable. When a volunteer lawyer assists you on a patent application, there is NO guarantee that you will be able to obtain a patent. When you obtain a patent, there is NO guarantee that you will be able to license, sell, or enforce the patent. There are many factors that may prevent you from obtaining a patent, or prevent you from licensing, selling, or enforcing a patent. A patent may be invalidated for various reasons.
To the extent you are aware of any impending deadlines (such as the one year expiry from the filing of a provisional application) IT IS YOUR DUTY TO MAKE THE VLA AWARE OF THESE DEADLINES so that such information may be conveyed to the volunteer attorney panel.
While the VLA will make every effort to match you with a volunteer attorney as soon as possible, at this time, you are not currently represented by the VLA or any attorney. Important events may occur or may have occurred which may prevent you from obtaining any patent protection on your invention should you not promptly seek legal advice outside of the VLA process. For example, it may take a few weeks for the VLA to match you with an attorney, and for the volunteer attorney to have the first discussion with you regarding your invention. If you and the volunteer attorney mutually agree to move forward with preparing a patent application, it may take several weeks or months before the patent application is finalized and filed. The U.S. patent system (as well as the patent systems in many other countries) is a “first-to-file” system. If during the period of time before the patent application is filed, someone else publishes an article or demonstrates a device in a trade show that discloses your invention, it may prevent you from obtaining a patent for your invention. There are many other events that may occur before your patent application is filed that may result in the loss of your patent rights. The VLA will not be responsible for your loss of patent rights due to the delay in filing a patent application on your invention or for any other reason.
Please remember that your volunteer lawyer is generously donating their time. It is imperative that you be prepared before calling your lawyer and respond to them promptly. Always be courteous and respectful of their schedule.
I hereby affirm that the information contained in this application and any attachments is correct and, to the best of my knowledge, complete. This questionnaire fully and accurately describes the problem for which this organization is requesting legal assistance. I understand that (please check all):
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