Two not-for-profit services help clients in civil cases |

Two not-for-profit services help clients in civil cases

by Natalia Vander Laan

You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. You may know that a mirandized person is notified of their right to have an attorney provided to them at no cost to represent them in a criminal case if they are indigent. But what about a person who cannot afford legal counsel in a civil case? What you may not know is that two not-for-profit organizations, Volunteer Attorneys for Rural Nevadans through its Pro Bono Project, and Nevada Legal Services match qualified low-income individuals with attorneys that do not charge for their legal services to advise and represent them in various civil matters.

Does my Case Qualify?

VARN and NLS coordinate pro bono attorneys to work with clients in resolving civil legal matters only. The types of eligible cases include but are not limited to family law matters such as adoption, divorce, or guardianship; real estate matters including evictions or landlord and tenant issues; elder law matters including wills and probate, Medicare, or nursing home issues, and many more. Speak with a representative at either organization to learn if your case may be eligible.

Do I Financially Qualify?

Pro bono assistance is available to low-income individuals and families that meet income guidelines and generally are not financially able to afford an attorney. VARN does, however, waive these income qualifications for its Domestic Violence Victim’s Assistance Project. Qualified clients will not be charged for pro bono attorney fees, but they will be responsible for ancillary expenses such as court costs, notary public fees, postage, or any other out-of-pocket expenses incurred on the client’s behalf. Speak to a representative at either organization to find out if you qualify.

How do I Apply?

You may apply for VARN services online at If you need further assistance, you can contact VARN directly at 775-883-8278 or

To learn more about NLS assistance, either visit or call the Carson City Outreach Office at 775-883-0404.

What Should I Expect of the Pro Bono Attorney?

Financial consideration is the only difference in the relationships between a client who has engaged a pro bono attorney through VARN or NLS and a client who has retained an attorney-for-hire directly through their law practice; all other aspects of the relationships are the same. The client can expect the exact degree of service from the pro bono attorney which that attorney renders to paying clients including:

competent and diligent representation by the attorney through the utilization of legal knowledge, skill, judgment and thoughtfulness for the sole benefit of the client and being thoroughly prepared through the completion of the case;

being kept informed about the case in a timely manner, being reported to and consulted with regularly, and having any communications promptly responded to by the attorney;

that the client’s confidentiality will be respected and anything related to the representation of the client will not be revealed without the client’s consent or applicable exception;

and that the attorney will remain loyal to the client and not allow personal interests or those of third parties to interfere with that loyalty.

What does the Pro Bono Attorney Expect from Me?

In return, the attorney expects the client to be thorough and honest in presenting information and facts, timely in responding to inquiries or requests for documents, and respectful of the court, the judicial process, and the attorney’s time and place of business.

Mutual respect, loyalty, truthfulness and confidentiality are the cornerstones of successful attorney-client relationships.

Natalia Vander Laan is a Minden attorney practicing estate planning, family law, and workers’ compensation