Pro Bono Opportunities

Washoe Legal Services (“WLS”) welcomes all Nevada-licensed attorneys who want to help WLS protect northern Nevada’s vulnerable populations.  Pro bono service allows attorneys to give back to their communities, learn new areas of the law, satisfy their ethical requirements under NRPC 6.1 and, most importantly, remember why they went to law school in the first place…. to help people! 

If you want to be placed on our panel of attorneys willing to accept pro bono referrals, please contact us today.

Attorney and Woman in meeting

Watch the “Basics of Representing a Child in an Abuse and Neglect Case” by clicking the video below.

WLS - Child Abuse CLE

Washoe Legal Services is now offering Continuing Legal Education (CLE) seminars online. These are currently available at no cost to the Nevada-licensed or Emeritus-certified attorneys who commit to joining our pro bono panel or taking a new pro bono case.

Below, please find our current online CLE seminar that is available to view now for CLE credit. This one-hour, one general credit CLE will explore the basics of representing children in an abuse and neglect case. The seminar will give you the basic knowledge to represent a child on a Child Attorneys Project pro bono case. You can find a copy of the slideshow presentation on the link below for note- taking. Please note, you will be asked to complete the webinar evaluation and Certificate of Attendance before receiving your CLE credit. Take a case today!

WLS’s pro bono program currently focuses on the following areas, but we welcome attorneys who want to help out in any area of law.

Child Advocacy

WLS invites attorneys in and around Washoe County to participate in its Child Advocacy Pro Bono Program.  This is an excellent opportunity to fulfill your pro bono obligations while serving as an advocate and mentor to a child who has been removed from his/her parents’ custody due to allegations of abuse and neglect.   Participating volunteers will receive training and administrative support, and they will be assigned a mentor who is experienced in child advocacy law.  Volunteer today for this opportunity to make a difference in a child’s life. 

Pro Bono Child Advocacy Manual

Federal Court

WLS and the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada  administer the federal court pro bono program organized under the United States District Court, District of Nevada.   The District Court screens pro se complaints and carefully selects litigants to refer to the program.  The judges look at a variety of factors before referring the case to the pro bono program, including the litigant’s ability to obtain counsel, the merits of the case, and the type or complexity of the case. 

The Federal Pro Bono Program is an incredible opportunity to fulfill your pro bono requirements while gaining federal civil litigation experience. Depending on the case, you might have the opportunity to represent your client during a jury trial in federal court. Cases in the past have included issues arising under Section 1983, Title VII, Hague Convention, and the Social Security Act, as well as cases presenting constitutional issues. This is a wonderful chance to expand your area of practice, get experience in the federal system, fulfill your ethical obligation to do pro bono work, and most importantly, have a profound impact on the life of a person in need.

Please contact Marissa Otteson at for a list of available cases.

General Law

WLS receives a wide variety of cases seeking placement with a pro bono attorney in all areas of the law. Here you will find a list of general law case matters. While this list may be overwhelming, it is a great opportunity for you to step out of your comfort zone and learn a new area of the law, while giving back to your community.

Self Help

WLS welcomes attorneys who are interested in volunteering to assist clients in our Self-Help Center.  Attorneys can select a regular date and time to come to the Center and assist self-represented litigants with completing court forms and preparing their cases for Court.  Attorneys can also provide free “walk-in” consultations to individuals who cannot afford to hire an attorney.  This is an excellent opportunity to provide a valuable community service without committing yourself to a lengthy case.

Ask-a-Lawyer Programs

WLS occasionally facilitates “Ask-a-Lawyer” programs.  These programs allow community members to have a brief 20-30 minute consultation with an attorney.  Please contact us today if you are interested in participating in a future “Ask-a-Lawyer” event. 

Pro Bono Attorney Testimonials

Child Advocacy“I truly enjoy working with Washoe County foster children to give them a voice in the courtroom.  Each child deserves for the judge, attorneys, social workers, and parents, who are making decisions that impact their lives and future, to hear what they have to say, even when they are too shy or scared to speak up in court.  I encourage all attorneys, in every type of career, to volunteer and help those that need our help the most.” – Karen Baytosh, Bremer Whyte Brown & O’Meara, LLP

Child Advocacy“It is a privilege to be a lawyer.  One of the most important things we can do is to serve our community by providing pro bono legal services to those who cannot afford a lawyer.  Representing children, and others who need a voice in our legal system is professionally and personally rewarding to me.  The legal profession is a difficult one and we often lose sight of the good.  Doing pro bono keeps that part alive and well.” – Victoria Oldenburg, Oldenburg Law Office

Washoe Legal Services Pro Bono FAQ’s

(To view all the questions, click Expand All)

Yes. Please refer potential clients to Washoe Legal Services’ website available at You can also provide referrals to our direct phone number, 775-329-2727 and instruct them to mention the referral to our intake coordinators.

Attorneys who are not members of the Nevada State Bar but who are admitted and in good standing in another state may request certification through the Nevada Supreme Court’s Emeritus Attorney Pro Bono (EAPB) Program. The certification is also available to attorneys who have been admitted in Nevada or another state but have an inactive license. See Supreme Court Rule 49.2 or for further information or to apply.

The Pro Bono Program at Washoe Legal Services provides free attorney malpractice coverage to all pro bono attorneys who take a case from us.

Trainings: Washoe Legal Services hosts CLE events to train pro bono attorneys on particular areas of the law. You can earn CLE by attending and participating in our FREE CLE events.

Taking a case: The Nevada Supreme Court recently adopted a rule change that provides general CLE credit for pro bono services. Washoe Legal Services is now an accredited provider. As of March 15, 2020, you will be able to receive 1 general CLE credit for every 3 hours of pro bono work on your case up to a maximum of 4 CLE credit hours per year for FREE.

Pursuant to the Rules of Professional Conduct, a client is a client whether he/she is a paying client or a pro bono client. Therefore, you are required to give the same level of service to your pro bono client as you would to a paying client.

While each case is different depending on the type of case and the specific facts, we do expect pro bono attorneys/volunteers to complete the specific matter for which the client was referred for assistance. If for some reason you can no longer handle the matter due to time restraints, etc., please contact your mentor and WLS’s Pro Bono Coordinator, Marissa Otteson, to work on getting the case reassigned.

We, here at Washoe Legal Services, are here for you! We have several resources to get you started. First, we offer free CLE trainings throughout the year to train pro bono attorneys in a range of subject areas.

In addition, in most cases, you will be assigned a case mentor and receive a packet with forms to help guide you through the matter. Your mentor will be available to answer any questions you might have through the life of the case.

Washoe Legal Services offers a variety of pro bono matters in many different areas of the law. Some of our most popular pro bono cases include Child Advocacy, Federal Civil Rights, Family Law, Senior Evictions, and Immigration.

We are working to grow our pro bono program in simple phone consultations, Bankruptcy, Adult Guardianship, Victim Advocacy, and Housing & Consumer Protection.

Pro bono work is free legal aid and assistance given to members of our community who qualify and who cannot afford an attorney.

Legal aid should not be withheld because of lack of funds. Washoe Legal Services helps to provide some of Northern Nevada’s most vulnerable populations who cannot afford an attorney with free legal aid. Many of our pro bono clients are minors or low-income citizens.

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Additional Opportunities

In addition to the pro bono opportunities available at WLS, there are also many pro bono opportunities with our community partners.  Here are some links to other pro bono programs in Nevada:

One Promise Nevada

Lawyer In The Library

Legal Aid Center

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Nevada Legal Services

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