Individuals and communities affected by the current public health crisis are facing unprecedented and growing legal needs, such as obtaining relief from the government and navigating housing or employment issues. In times of emergencies, legal aid programs play a critical role in addressing that surge of needs, and often with the assistance of pro bono lawyers and advocates.
This program will review the general need of legal advocates in emergency response and highlight examples of how nonprofit legal aid organizations are engaging pro bono attorneys in their remote COVID-19 projects. The panel will share case scenarios on remote pro bono representation and pathways to getting involved in COVID-19 pro bono work. This program will benefit attorneys and other legal advocates interested in learning more about pro bono strategies in COVID-19 response.
Identify the legal needs and challenges emerging from COVID-19
Analyze key components and general workflows of remote pro bono projects
Discuss strategies and best practices to help programs expand their outreach in the midst of a public health crisis
Use technology to engage pro bono attorneys
Amanda Brown is Lagniappe Law Lab’s founder and executive director. She is the co-chair of Louisiana’s Access to Justice Commission’s technology subcommittee and is a member of the Legal Service Corporation’s Emerging Leaders Council. She is also active in the ABA, serving as the Vice Director of the YLD’s Disaster Legal Services Team and as a member of the ABA Center for Innovation’s Governing Council.
Most recently, Amanda was a legal technology consultant for the Louisiana Bar Foundation on its statewide triage portal, the Louisiana Civil Legal Navigator. Prior to that, she served as the inaugural Microsoft NextGen Fellow for the American Bar Association’s Center for Innovation and was a disaster recovery attorney at Southeast Louisiana Legal Services. She is a graduate of Loyola University New Orleans College of Law.
In addition to his volunteer role as the Special Advisor to the Disaster Legal Services program, Mr. VanSingel is the Local Taxpayer Advocate for Taxpayer Advocate Service’s Chicago office. TAS is an independent organization within the IRS and is the taxpayer’s voice at the IRS. TAS’ job is to ensure that every taxpayer is treated fairly and knows and understand their rights as a taxpayer. TAS offers free help to guide taxpayers through the often-confusing process of resolving tax problems that taxpayers are not able to solve on their own. Prior to joining TAS, Mr. VanSingel managed the Low-Income Tax Clinic at Prairie State Legal Services, Inc., where he was responsible for all Clinic activities, including client representation, supervision of interns and volunteers, community outreach, staff training, and grant preparation and reporting. Mr. VanSingel is admitted to practice in Illinois, New York, and the United States Tax Court. Mr. VanSingel is a former member of the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel, a Federal Advisory Committee comprised of 75 individuals dedicated to making systemic improvements to the IRS. Mr. VanSingel received his undergraduate degree from Western Michigan University in 2006, and his J.D., cum laude from Touro Law Center in 2010. Mr. VanSingel is also involved in the American Bar Association and holds leadership positions in both the Section of Taxation (Pro Bono & Tax Clinics Committee) and in the Young Lawyers Division (Disaster Legal Services Program). He is also a member of the Board of Directors for Community Support Services, Inc., which provides services to individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities. Mr. VanSingel is deeply involved with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program. In addition to volunteering at VITA Clinics, he regularly teaches tax law for Ladder Up, a VITA grantee that prepares over 10,000 income tax returns annually.
David Wormald has an MBA from NCSU and is a certified project manager. He has almost 20 years experience with new service development and process improvement. He has been with Legal Aid of North Carolina (LANC) for nine years and has been the pro bono team leader for the last five. LANC’s pro bono program has over 1,500 volunteer attorneys and has been involved in several separate disaster relief pro bono efforts such as Hurricane Florence.
Jeanne is a bilingual attorney and the Pro Bono & Strategic Initiatives Manager at Pro Bono Net, a national nonprofit that brings the power of the law to all by building cutting-edge digital tools and fostering collaborations with the nation’s leading civil legal organizations. In her role at Pro Bono Net, she coordinates, develops, and grows state and national digital initiatives that strengthen the work of legal advocates and pro bono attorneys helping communities with their legal problems. For close to two years, she was Pro Bono Net’s Disaster Response Legal Fellow and organized initiatives to support disaster survivors and attorneys working on disaster legal aid. She is the co-author of Touro Law Review’s “Disaster Legal Tech: Strategies for Providing Legal Information to Survivors.”
Before joining Pro Bono Net, she provided free legal representation and employment discrimination litigation on behalf of low-income LGBT individuals in Puerto Rico and worked as a legal fellow at the Central Alabama Fair Housing Center in Montgomery, Alabama. In law school, she founded and led an award-winning Ms. JD chapter to provide law students with career resources and networking opportunities and also facilitated Know-Your-Rights workshops to low-income communities in Puerto Rico. She’s a member of the ABA’s Disaster Legal Services Program and the New York City Bar Association's Pro Bono & Legal Services Committee.
Terrific, and a terrific public service!