Pro Bono Needs in a Changing Community

Learn how Nevada lawyers can help the Pro Bono Project with Michael Wendlberger of Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada

By Michael Wendlberger, Esq.

Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada adapts to meet the legal needs of the community. During the housing crisis, Legal Aid Center assisted people facing foreclosure. Legal Aid Center did not do this alone; in 2008, pro bono volunteers represented 50 families facing foreclosure. As our economy rebounded, many people faced unbearable debt. From 2010 through 2014, pro bono volunteers represented over 400 people considering bankruptcy to secure a fresh start. As the economy recovered, pro bono attorneys pivoted their attention to the children in our community, helping Legal Aid Center reach its goal of providing representation to every child in dependency court as part of its Children’s Attorneys Project.

In 2015, the Supreme Court of Nevada established the Statewide Guardianship Commission to help curtail the abuses in guardianship, including the loss of countless estates. The Legal Aid Center adapted and started its Guardianship Attorney’s Project to help those in need. Today, the Legal Aid Center represents over 4,000 adults and minors facing guardianship. Pro bono attorneys can donate their time as well representing adults and minors in the guardianship arena.

After the Route 91 tragedy, Clark County partnered with the Legal Aid Center and other community partners to create the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center (“VSRC”). The center provides assistance to help the survivors of the Route 91 tragedy. Pro bono attorneys again stepped up to help survivors during the darkest times. In 2022, the VSRC started expanding its efforts from assisting Route 91 survivors to helping all victims of violent crime in our community. To meet this goal, the Legal Aid Center recently announced the creation of the Advocacy and Justice Complex, which will house the VSRC under its new name, the Resiliency and Justice Center, and will serve all survivors of violent crime.
During the pandemic, Legal Aid Center and pro bono volunteers pivoted again, assisting thousands of persons facing eviction. Pro bono volunteers made over 3,000 phone calls in 2020 and over 4,400 the following year as part of Legal Aid Center’s virtual Ask-A-Lawyer program. Pro bono volunteers continued taking litigation cases meeting with clients virtually and ensured the pandemic did not limit access to justice in our community.

So, where do we go from here? Last year, we faced the highest inflation in 20 years. Does this mean we will soon see a housing bubble? Or does it mean a record number of bankruptcies are on the horizon? I do not know. I do know that whatever changes our community faces, Legal Aid Center and pro bono volunteers will step up to help our community.
Legal Aid Center offers pro bono opportunities in our Children’s Attorneys Project, guardianship, family law, federal matters, appellate cases, immigration, consumer protection, and the ask-a-lawyer program. Now is the time to take a case in an area that speaks to you. Remember the lemonade quote, and when life throws lemons our way, Legal Aid Center and pro bono attorneys stand ready to make lemonade for our community.

About the author

Michael Wendlberger, Esq. is the Director of the Pro Bono Project at Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada. The Pro Bono Project pairs volunteer attorneys with screened clients in the areas of family, consumer, landlord tenant, civil rights, immigration, bankruptcy, and other areas of law. Find available cases listed at https://www.lacsnprobono.org/available-cases/. Interested attorneys should contact Michael at 702 386-1429 or mwendlberger@lacsn.org.

About the article

This article was originally published in the Communiqué (Dec. 2023), the official publication of the Clark County Bar Association. See https://clarkcountybar.org/about/member-benefits/communique-2023/communique-december-2023/


© 2023 Clark County Bar Association (CCBA). All rights reserved. No reproduction of any portion of this issue is allowed without written permission from the publisher. Editorial policy available upon request.

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