ADOPTION OF A PERMANENT PROGRAM FOR COURT APPOINTMENT OF PRO BONO COUNSEL
Effective December 1, 2014, the U.S. District Court adopted Local Attorney Rule 15, titled Civil Pro Bono Representation, which implements the court's Civil Pro Bono Panel Plan. The Plan is a program consisting of volunteer attorneys willing to represent individuals of limited financial means (not strictly limited to the “indigent”) in civil matters whenever requested by the Court and without compensation. As a means to assist attorneys in providing pro bono services, the court has established a panel of attorneys who are members in good standing of the Bar of the district court and who have agreed to accept pro bono appointments to represent pro se litigants (plaintiff or defendant) in civil cases.
The following are some of the unique aspects of the Panel program:
• Individual lawyers, law school clinical programs, or law firms can join the Panel.
Participants can specify how many cases will be accepted per year, and no more than that amount will be assigned – either on an individual basis, or as a law firm.
If a law firm joins the program, it can assign to the individual cases that it accepts any attorney or attorneys from within the firm that it chooses, as long as the attorneys are members of the District Court bar and in good standing.
A Panel member (Individual or Law Firm) can specify which types of cases/causes of action he/she/it will accept, from the following categories:
Civil rights cases
Consumer rights/ credit reporting/ foreclosure cases
Employment discrimination claims
FOIA/Privacy Act cases
Prisoners' rights cases (42 U.S.C. § 1983 or Bivens)
Social Security appeals
Other categories (counsel can choose from approximately 100 different specific causes of action listed on the Civil Pro Bono Panel Application, The Causes of Action on the Pro Bono Application form are also listed on the U.S. District Court's Civil Cover Sheet located on the Forms page)
The clerk strictly limits case assignments to those specified by the Panel member.
If one case has already been accepted by counsel, a new one will not be assigned unless specifically permitted by counsel or law firm in the Panel application;
Counsel may choose to have additional co-counsel assigned to assist him or her, or counsel may request a mentoring attorney – or may serve as a mentoring attorney;
The Court initiates the appointment process by granting a pro se litigant's (prisoner or non-prisoner) motion for appointment of counsel, and after the case has undergone initial review for merit through the process required under D.C.COLO.LCivR 8.1 and 28 § 1915A. Cases are randomly assigned by the clerk, according to counsel's preferences. Appointed Panel members have a five-day period of time to run a conflicts check, review the case, gain internal approval, etc., before contacting the Clerk's office and accepting or rejecting the case.
After a Notice of Appointment is entered in the case by the clerk, indicating the draw of the name of the appointed attorney (as an individual or as the coordinating attorney for a law firm), the attorney then has 30 days to formally enter an appearance in the case, or file a Notice Declining Appointment.
Please note that Reimbursement funding for costs incurred by counsel (not attorney fees) will be available from the Faculty of Federal Advocates, derived from the 2013 Renewal fee for district court bar members.
Please also be aware that under D.C.COLO.LAttyR 2(b)(1), effective December 1, 2016, counsel are permitted -- either on a pro bono basis, or for a fee -- to represent both incarcerated individuals and "pro se" non-prisoner unrepresented parties on a limited basis, following the procedures set forth in Local Attorney Rules 2(b)(1), 5(a) and 5(b).
With adoption of the Civil Pro Bono Plan, the Court now seeks applicants to the Civil Pro Bono Panel – attorneys, law firms, non-profit organizations, and clinical legal education programs at law schools that are willing to accept appointment to represent pro se parties of limited financial means in civil actions may apply to join the Panel. The Application Form can be found through a link to the Forms page on the Court's website HERE. You may submit a completed application either by mail to the Clerk of the Court, United States District Court, Attn: Edward Butler, Legal Officer, Alfred A. Arraj U.S. Courthouse Annex, 901 19th Street, Denver, Colorado 80294; or you may submit the application as a pdf document by e-mail to:
A link to the local rule implementing the Civil Pro Bono Plan can be found below. Sample forms that unrepresented parties may use to submit a motion (request to the court) for appointment of counsel from the Civil Pro Bono Panel can be found on our Forms Page under the heading "Civil Pro Bono."
Download Local Rule LAttyR 15 - Civil Pro Bono Representation