FAQs FOR NONPROFITS
Question: What are the criteria for becoming a client of Pro Bono Partnership of Ohio?
Answer: In general, to qualify to become a client of Pro Bono Partnership of Ohio, the nonprofit must:
(1) be a registered 501(c)(3) public charity tax-exempt organization;
(2) serve low-income or disadvantaged people or otherwise contribute to the quality of life in our area;
(3) offer programs that have a demonstrable impact on the community;
(4) be located in or serve the Cincinnati or Dayton areas; and
(5) be unable to pay for legal services without significant impairment of its program services.
Please note that we do not assist individuals or for-profit organizations. Also note that PBPO does not have the legal expertise necessary to advise schools. Additionally, while PBPO works with organizations that provide services irrespective of religious affiliation, it does not assist organizations on projects that primarily promote religious purposes.
If your organization does not fit the above criteria, click here for more resources.
Question: Do you offer assistance to organizations applying for 501(c)(3) status?
Answer: No. We do not assist organizations with the application for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.
Question: How do I become a Pro Bono Partnership of Ohio client?
Answer: If you think you meet our criteria to become a client, the first step is to submit a completed Request for Legal Assistance form. We then set up an intake call with PBPO staff, the leader of your organization and preferably at least one board member from your organization. If you qualify for our services, PBPO will work with you to identify any initial legal needs.
Question: How much will it cost?
Answer: The legal services provided by PBPO and the attorney volunteers are free of charge. Note that you may have to pay fees to third parties depending on your matter. For example, to file for a trademark you must pay a filing fee to the US Patent and Trademark Office.
Question: What are my obligations as a client of Pro Bono Partnership of Ohio?
Answer: Our main request is that you are considerate of the attorney’s time. These attorneys graciously volunteer their time and efforts to assist nonprofits with their legal needs. They bill their time to paying clients at rates of at least several hundred dollars per hour. If accepted as a client, we will ask you to sign a Client Expectations form that details our expectations from you.
Question: What happens after my screening meeting?
Answer: Once you are accepted as a client and your legal matter(s) have been identified in your screening meeting, the following steps will be taken:
1) Your requested legal matter(s) will be written up as Volunteer Opportunities for attorneys, which are sent to volunteers monthly by e-mail and listed on our website.
2) You will be asked to sign and return an Engagement Letter for your upcoming legal matter(s).
3) You will be notified via phone or e-mail when an attorney volunteers to assist with your legal matter(s).
4) We will then contact you to set up your initial meeting with the volunteer attorney and a PBPO staff attorney concerning the matter. While we expect to place your matter with a volunteer, there is no guarantee that we will be able to find a volunteer.
Question: What are Engagement Letters?
Answer: The Engagement Letter describes the matter(s) for which your organization has requested legal assistance, the scope of Pro Bono Partnership of Ohio’s assistance, and the client’s responsibilities to the attorney. This agreement will be sent to you, and requires a signature of at least two board members, or a board member and the Executive Director. Please make sure you read the document carefully, sign and return promptly. We cannot schedule your initial meeting with your attorney volunteer until we have received the agreement. The attorney assisting with your matter might require you to sign an additional agreement.
Question: How long does the process take?
Answer: That depends. If you provide us with a detailed and complete request for legal assistance, a date for your screening meeting can usually be scheduled within seven days. Depending on how flexible you can be with the date and time, your screening meeting can usually take place within two weeks of scheduling. Following the screening meeting and if you are accepted as a client, we will add your legal needs to our list of available opportunities. We send out our Volunteer Opportunities to attorneys each month. If your matter is matched with an attorney volunteer, the attorney will need to get approval from his/her company before scheduling a meeting with you. The attorney then notifies us and we work to find a date and time that suits everyone’s schedule.
Please realize that the speed of your matter being matched with an attorney also depends on your organization’s ability to respond to e-mails, phone calls, and paperwork in a timely manner, and your flexibility in scheduling a meeting.
Question: How involved is Pro Bono Partnership of Ohio with a matter?
Answer: Our primary purpose is to link nonprofits in need to attorney volunteers. The initial meeting usually includes the client, the attorney volunteer, and an attorney from PBPO. This meeting is meant to introduce everyone and create an understanding of the scope of the matter. After this meeting, it is the responsibility of the attorney and the client to communicate directly with one another. Please keep us updated on the progress of the matter, and inform us when the matter is complete. We will formally close the matter once we are notified it is complete.