Becoming a Volunteer Lawyer
Thank you for your interest in Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts! For more than 25 years, we have been working to provide essential legal assistance and valuable guidance to our vibrant creative community. We would be glad to have you involved in this group of dedicated professionals. We provide more $1,000,000 in free legal assistance annually, but we cannot do it without your help. Join over 700 fellow attorneys in Massachusetts and New England in supporting our local arts and the people who make it.
Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts
Becoming involved with the VLA is as simple as joining the panel of attorneys who receive our case list emails. Joining the mailing list is free and carries no obligation to volunteer. These emails are sent approximately every two weeks and typically include a range of cases, in areas such as trademarks, copyrights, non-profit incorporation, and many more. When a case matches your interests, availability, and expertise, simply respond to the given email address and request the case. Additionally, we send out information about alternative volunteering opportunities, such as legal clinics or participation in seminars or webinars.
Practitioners of every discipline are welcome. The VLA accepts applications from artists and arts organizations for all non-criminal matters; most issues relate to contracts, copyright, and/or nonprofit incorporation and governance. Volunteers must be licensed attorneys in good standing. While almost all applicants are in Massachusetts, we do receive some requests from neighboring states that do not have a VLA program. These cases are identified on the case list.
Please note that while we encourage newly licensed attorneys to join the panel and receive our mailing list, opportunities for volunteer work may be limited. At this time we are not able to facilitate mentorship, support, or shadowing arrangements.
Patent Pro Bono Program of New England
We are actively recruiting patent attorneys to join the panel for the Patent Pro Bono Program of New England, a new program launched in partnership with the USPTO and the Boston Patent Law Association.
Patent case lists are sent approximately monthly. To be included on the case list, applicants must have demonstrated financial eligibility, taken the USPTO’s training module, and described an invention. The level of services may vary from a basic consultation to full prosecution. Volunteers are encouraged to counsel clients as to the best use of their time and resources. Volunteers must be attorneys in good standing licensed to practice before the USPTO and in MA, NH, VT, RI, and/or ME.
To join either or both lists, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and address, firm (if any), phone number, email address, dates and states of bar admission, and areas of legal interest or expertise. It is also helpful to know if you have an interest in any particular area of art (a preference for literary cases, photography, or music, for example) or speak any additional languages.
Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts carries malpractice insurance that covers volunteers taking our pro bono cases.
VLA Attorney Memberships
Want to support the VLA but don’t have time to take a case? Looking to expand your practice to work with artist clients? Consider a VLA Attorney Membership. For a small annual membership fee, you can contribute to our program’s sustainability. As an additional benefit, Member Attorneys have exclusive access to our fee-incurring cases. Applicants who do not qualify for pro bono assistance may be offered the names of up to three member attorneys for reduced-cost or fee-incurring assistance. We ask that 10% of any fees collected beyond $500 be remitted to the VLA to support our ongoing services.
Business professionals interested in offering free or reduced cost services to the local arts community are also encouraged to contact us. We frequently receive requests for referrals and for pro bono assistance from other professionals, especially those in accounting. Please contact us to discuss your interests.
Law Students & Recent Graduates
Current law students interested in internships with the VLA should visit our internships page for more information. At this time, we are not able to accommodate recent law graduates or OPT/LLM graduates with volunteer in-house positions.
Learn more about:
- The Patent Pro Bono Program
- Estate & Legacy Planning
- Nonprofit Incorporation Workshops
- Internship Opportunities
Hilary J. Libka, Esq. of Cooley LLP (Center) at our 2016 Martinis & Masterpieces event. Libka was presented with the Robert B. Fraser Award for Pro Bono Excellence for her outstanding pro bono leadership in the arts and legal services communities of Massachusetts.