AFBNJ Pro Bono Project
The Association of the Federal Bar of New Jersey is proud to partner with and assist the District Court of New Jersey in the implementation of its pro bono program. For well over one hundred years, the Court has had the authority to assign cases to local attorneys who volunteer their valuable time in non-frivolous actions. Many of those cases involve intellectually challenging constitutional claims brought by indigent, incarcerated litigants, including under the First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. The pro bono program is designed to afford the Court the opportunity to assign proper legal representation in these actions and to train and assist those attorneys.
The Court appoints pro bono counsel in very few matters and only after scrupulously reviewing the matter. These cases provide a valuable experience for attorneys of all experience levels and backgrounds, and particularly for more junior attorneys because they offer the opportunity to develop the skills necessary to be a successful attorney: case strategy, discovery, depositions, conferences, hearings and even trials. Moreover, the Court appreciates the pro bono counsel’s donation of time and energy. Participation in the Court’s pro bono program ensures that there is effective representation on both sides, permitting lawsuits to be resolved fairly and justly. Recognizing the sacrifice of law firms and designated attorneys, the Court may reimburse pro bono counsel for typical litigation costs, including expert fees.
The AFBNJ is committed to assisting the Court with this program, not only for the Court and the litigants who need such assistance, but also to enhance the experience and assist those attorneys willing to give their time to the performance of such work. The AFBNJ is creating and will soon be finalizing a list of attorneys and law firms which the Court may call upon for pro bono assistance. The AFBNJ is also coordinating with the Court to educate attorneys through seminars on pro bono litigation. In addition to periodic seminars, the AFBNJ has also partnered with the New Jersey Institute of Continuing Legal Education to create an annual pro bono symposium. The AFBNJ is also in the process of establishing a form file/ brief bank on this website for easy access. And, we are also in the process of assembling a “hotline,” i.e., a list of attorneys willing to be contacted to answer questions from assigned counsel.
To ensure the continued success of the program, we are in need for additional law firms and attorneys to volunteer. It is truly a unique opportunity to help those in need of representation, while at the same time affording attorneys the opportunity to gain valuable courtroom experience.
If you are interested in participating in the pro bono program, please reach out to AFBNJ Vice President Ed Kole (firstname.lastname@example.org) or AFBNJ Trustee Stacey Adams (email@example.com), the Co-chairs of the AFBNJ Pro Bono Program, directly.
You can read more about the District Court’s pro bono program and access training resources and forms here: http://www.njd.uscourts.gov/pro-bono