Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Providing Pro Bono Legal Services in Our Communities

By Taylor Kilgore, Communications Consultant

At CUNA Mutual Group, we recognize the need in our community for affordable legal services. Members of our legal department feel they have a responsibility as attorneys – to help make legal services accessible to people who need them but don’t have access to them – especially veterans and their families. So, in 2013, they started the pro bono program with a goal of helping people navigate the often expensive and confusing legal system.

Since then, the team has provided pro bono assistance to hundreds of people through the Wills for Heroes program, the Small Claims Assistance Program and the Veterans Law Clinic.

Wills for Heroes 
The Wills for Heroes Clinic prepares wills and other basic estate planning documents at no charge for eligible first responders and their spouses or domestic partners. Our pro bono team helps to fulfill their mission: to serve those who serve us.

“To volunteer at the Wills for Heroes Clinic is important to me because it allows me to give back to those who do so much for our country and our communities,” said Diane Fisher, Law Specialist. “They are grateful for the service we provide for free.”

Small Claims Assistance Program 
The Small Claims Assistance Program is staffed by volunteer attorneys and paralegals across our local Madison community, including the pro bono team, who provide free legal assistance to self-represented small claims clients. Many of these people may not know what rights they have or what the small claims process looks like.

“I literally sit down in a room and help people walk through their problems and try to figure out their options,” said Paul Barbato, Associate General Counsel. “We discuss what the solutions to their problems might be and I help them see and understand what the legal process might look like and entail for them.”

Veterans Law Clinic
The pro bono team also supports veterans who need legal help. The Veterans Law Clinic provides free legal services to low income veterans and their families. Jeannie Porter, Senior Counsel, supports this because she is a veteran herself. She says she enjoys the connection she makes with each person she counsels.

"When I finished active duty I was looking for a way to use my law degree and help veterans a the same time," she said. "I didn't have any idea that something like the veteran's law clinic existed. After a little research, I volunteered."

Both the assistance program and the law clinic rely on a consistent base of volunteers. Our team’s pro bono program is just a small part of what we are doing to make a difference and help people achieve financial security.

Learn more about our company culture of giving back and how we focus on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a business.

How do you make a positive impact on your community? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook.