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Federal Pro Bono Project and Federal Pro Se Program

Pro bono representation of parties to civil cases who are unable to afford an attorney is an important responsibility of the bar. Attorneys who are members of the bar of the Northern District have opportunities to represent such parties—both plaintiffs and defendants.

The Federal Pro Bono Project (Oakland and San Francisco) and the Federal Pro Se Program (San Jose) arrange pro bono counsel for litigants who are referred for appointment of counsel by the Court. Cases vary greatly and can include employment discrimination, police misconduct, and foreclosure. Along with full-scope representation opportunities, which often include cases ready for trial, the two programs offer cases for limited-scope representation, including settlement conferences before Magistrate Judges.

See video below, “What can I do as a pro bono attorney in the Northern District?”

The Court will reimburse costs, up to $25,000, for attorneys taking a pro bono case. Pro bono counsel may recover attorney’s fees awarded to the plaintiff as the prevailing party or as part of a negotiated settlement of the case. New attorneys are welcome to participate if they are supervised by experienced attorneys who can provide the necessary procedural and substantive guidance. In addition to providing a valuable service to pro se litigants and the Court, many attorneys find that volunteering is a great way to develop federal court experience.

To learn more or to sign up for pro bono representation opportunities in the San Francisco and Oakland divisions of the Court, please contact the Federal Pro Bono Project at fedpro@sfbar.org or 415-782-8982.

To learn more or to sign up for pro bono representation opportunities in the San Jose division of the Court, please contact the Federal Pro Se Program at hsong@asianlawalliance.org or 408-297-1480.

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