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Request to Attorneys to Volunteer for the Court’s Pro Bono Program

The Court's pro bono program provides free legal services to indigent debtors involved in adversary proceedings related to the discharge and non-dischargeability of certain debts. The program also provides services to an indigent former-spouse of a debtor regarding the dischargeability of obligations in the judgment of divorce. The program does not provide legal services related to bankruptcy cases.

The Court requests that members of the bankruptcy bar volunteer to accept pro bono assignments under the Court's program. Our goal is to have 150-200 attorneys on the pro bono list, if we can reach those numbers, each attorney may only be appointed to a case every three or four years. Here is what you need to know:

  1. An individual requesting pro bono representation submits an application on a form available from the Clerk's Office. This form requires the applicant to provide complete, accurate and current information concerning the applicant's income and assets, as well as other pertinent financial information. In evaluating the information provided in the application, the Court also examines the applicant's bankruptcy schedules and statement of financial affairs.
  2. Generally, the Court grants an application if: (a) the applicant's current income does not exceed 200% of the current year's U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines for the applicant's family size; and (b) the applicant does not have sufficient assets to pay for the needed representation. The determination is made by the judge assigned to the adversary proceeding.
  3. If the application is granted, the Court enters an order appointing an attorney from the list of attorneys who have volunteered to provide pro bono representation in this program. Upon request by the attorney, the Court will provide to the attorney a copy of the pertinent pleadings in the adversary proceeding file, as well as a copy of the bankruptcy petition, schedules and statement of financial affairs.
  4. The attorney who is appointed may file and serve on the pro bono client a motion for relief from the appointment order. The motion must establish good cause and be filed promptly so that the adjudication of the adversary proceeding is not delayed. If a motion for relief is granted, the Court will enter another order of appointment.
  5. The pro bono counsel list is maintained by the Clerk's Office. Pro bono case assignments are made on a rotating basis based on the attorney's location and the court location of the adversary proceeding. An attorney seeking to discontinue participation in the program should send a letter to the Clerk of Court.

The Court urges you to volunteer for this important program. To volunteer, simply complete the form below. Upon clicking submit, the form will be sent to the Court. Thank you for your help.

Daniel S. Opperman
Chief United States Bankruptcy Judge

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