Volunteer

 How You Can Volunteer and Make a Difference

Join the community of attorneys and advocates at Pine Tree Legal Assistance working to increase access to justice for low-income Mainers! 

As a Pine Tree Volunteer, you can provide services to the veterans community, homeowners seeking to avoid foreclosure, individuals facing debt, bankruptcy or tax burdens, and clients in need of support with disability claims. Our private attorney involvement activities have been designed to complement existing staff services for specific client populations or in specific legal areas of need. All activities are designed to augment other pro bono projects throughout Maine.

As a student intern at one of Pine Tree Legal’s six offices around the state or in one of our specialized units, you can make a significant difference in the lives of low-income Mainers. Opportunities include interviewing clients, assisting legal staff, research and program development work.  Undergraduate and law school internships and externships are available year-round.

In addition to in-office opportunities, outside professional expertise is also in demand.  Clients need assistance from CPAs, psychiatrists, tax consultants, language interpreters, and other professionals.  The program can also benefit from knowledgeable event planners, and administrative, computer and web-design specialists.

If you have questions, or would like more information, please contact PTLA's Director of Pro Bono Services, Shannon Karam at skaram@ptla.org


Volunteer Opportunities for Attorneys

Pine Tree welcomes pro bono assistance from attorneys around the state in various practice areas. To support your participation and ensure the best attorney/client interaction, Pine Tree provides malpractice insurance, a small litigation fund, training, and mentoring. Opportunities include:

Eviction Defense Project

In anticipation of a wave of eviction cases as courts reopen, Pine Tree is training volunteer attorneys to join in the effort to provide vital legal representation to low income tenants through the Evictions Defense Project. Pine Tree offers volunteer attorneys a free, virtual, half day training on the basics of Maine housing laws, and in exchange, attorneys who attend the training commit to representing tenants pro bono in eviction cases on an approximately biweekly basis for six months.  Pine Tree provides mentorship and support to volunteers as they work directly with clients, gather facts, identify defenses, negotiate with opposing parties and counsel, and in some cases, go to hearing to resolve the case.   

Volunteers who join the program will play an integral role in expanding access to justice for low income tenants and maintaining housing for vulnerable community members during the COVID-19 pandemic. The next training will be on September 25, 2020 and Pine Tree particularly seeks attorneys willing to accept cases in the Bangor, Augusta, and Lewiston areas.   

 

Consumer Defense Project

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pine Tree staff members have worked closely with volunteer attorneys to launch a new collaboration between Pine Tree, the National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA) and the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) with the goal of increasing representation and improving outcomes for consumers statewide. Pine Tree and its partners are presenting a series of free trainings on credit card debt defense, auto fraud, mortgage foreclosure, and student loans throughout 2020.   

Attorneys who attend the trainings commit to accepting one pro bono consumer case referral from Pine Tree within the subsequent one to two years, depending on the subject area. As a part of the program, volunteer attorneys will receive support from Pine Tree staff knowledgeable in consumer law and are encouraged to seek additional resources offered through NACA and NCLC. Dates TBD for the mortgage foreclosure and student loans trainings.

 

“Every Student, All Day, Every Day” School Exclusion Project

Continuing an exciting partnership begun in 2019 with Disability Rights Maine, the Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic (CLAC), and the ACLU of Maine, Kids Legal at Pine Tree Legal Assistance is working with Maine’s legal service providers to expand representation for students facing disciplinary removal from schools across the state. The project seeks to ensure that all students who are excluded from school are reconnected meaningfully to their education. With the educational disruption caused by COVID-19 and the disproportionate impact of harsh disciplinary policies on students of color, students with disabilities, and students who have experienced poverty, this work is more important now than ever.

 

Lawyer-of-the-Day Courthouse “Pick Ups”

This is a time-limited commitment on a weekly or biweekly basis. Pine Tree provides training and has successfully utilized this program for both evictions and third-party debt collection matters.

Veterans Panel

Pine Tree operates a monthly “Military Monday” clinic providing legal information to low-income veterans in a partnership with Starbucks.  Topics include VA benefits, foreclosures, wills/estates, and third-party consumer debt. Pine Tree also assists veterans with VA benefit overpayment cases and discharge upgrade matters.

Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC)

Pine Tree, in conjunction with the IRS Maine Taxpayer Advocate, operates this statewide project to assist low-income taxpayers. Pine Tree needs help from tax attorneys, CPAs, and other tax professionals to assist with federal tax cases and tax preparation services.

Maine Attorneys Saving Homes (MASH)

Since 2008, Pine Tree staff attorneys have supported the use of private attorney volunteers on foreclosure defense through our MASH program.

In-House Attorney Volunteers working at PTLA offices

Pine Tree provides training, office space, technology, and support for those attorneys wishing to volunteer at one of our offices. Some attorneys have retired to Maine from other jurisdictions and practice law under Maine Rules of Civil Procedure 89(c).

Support or Co-counsel

Pine Tree’s Litigation Director and other senior attorneys recruit experienced litigators to assist staff attorneys in complex proceedings.

Moot Court

Private attorneys routinely participate in moot court sessions and serve as in-house trainers for staff on both substantive and procedural law issues.

If you would like to volunteer with PTLA, or you are interested in learning more, please fill out our volunteer form:

 

Volunteer Opportunities for Students, Community Members, and Other Professionals

Pine Tree Legal Assistance (PTLA) is pleased to offer a variety of public service opportunities to community members and professionals, undergraduate, postgraduate, and law students.

Law Student Internship at Pine Tree Legal Assistance, Inc., a statewide provider of civil legal services in Maine

Pine Tree Legal Assistance is a statewide, non-profit organization committed to providing high quality, free, civil legal assistance to low-income people in Maine. Our mission is to ensure that state and federal laws affecting poor people are enforced while also addressing the systemic barriers to justice faced by low-income Mainers. Since opening its doors in 1967, Pine Tree has been using legal advocacy to help Maine’s most vulnerable residents overcome pressing problems of everyday life – domestic and sexual violence, homelessness, economic insecurity, financial exploitation, and more. Pine Tree is committed to access to justice for all Mainers, maintaining six offices throughout the state.

The summer internship at Pine Tree Legal Assistance provides an opportunity for law students to work on a wide range of civil legal issues facing low-income Mainers. Students will work with attorneys and advocates to respond to the immediate needs of individual low-income clients. Student responsibilities often include client intake, ongoing client communication, investigation and fact development, legal research, memo and brief drafting, litigation preparation, and other case work. Students will have the opportunity to observe staff in remote or in person court proceedings and students who have completed their 2nd year in law school may have the opportunity to appear in court proceedings on behalf of a client.

Students will work under the supervision of experienced attorneys based in one of Pine Tree’s offices. The internship may be remote, in person, or a combination of both depending on circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the intern’s location, and Pine Tree’s in-person work plans. Interested applicants should submit a resume and cover letter to the Director of Pro Bono Services specifying their preferences for legal units and locations (see below) no later than February 5, 2021.

Pine Tree values an inclusive and diverse work environment and strongly encourages applications from women, people of color, people who identify as LGBTQIA, people with disabilities, people who have experienced poverty or homelessness, and people belonging to communities that have historically experienced injustice.

This is an unpaid, 10 week summer internship.

Legal Units Supporting Law Student Interns in Summer 2021:

  • Basic Unit – housing (fair housing and evictions defense), public benefits, and consumer debt issues
  • Family Law and Victim’s Rights Unit – civil legal services for victims/survivors of sexual assault and/or domestic violence
  • Foreclosure Prevention Unit –assists low income Maine homeowners facing foreclosure through litigation and dispute resolution
  • Low Income Taxpayer Clinic – through an IRS grant, Pine Tree offers eligible taxpayers free legal assistance on a range of federal tax matters across the state
  • Kids Legal, Migrant Farm Worker, Veterans, and/or Native American Units may support interns depending on interest and need

Law Student Internship Locations:

  • Augusta (Basic, Family)
  • Bangor (Basic, Family, Tax, Farm Worker, and Native American)
  • Lewiston (Basic and Family)
  • Portland (Basic, Foreclosure, and Kids Legal)
  • Presque Isle (Basic and Family)

To Apply:

Applicants may submit a cover letter and resume by email to:

Shannon Karam, Esq.
She/her/hers Director of Pro Bono Services
Pine Tree Legal Assistance
P.O. Box 547
Tel: 207-552-3110
skaram@ptla.org

 

Students

2021 Undergraduate Summer Internship Positions

Pine Tree Legal Assistance is a statewide, non-profit organization committed to providing high quality, free, civil legal assistance to low-income people in Maine. Our mission is to ensure that state and federal laws affecting poor people are enforced while also addressing the systemic barriers to justice faced by low-income Mainers. Since opening its doors in 1967, Pine Tree has been using legal advocacy to help Maine’s most vulnerable residents overcome pressing problems of everyday life – domestic and sexual violence, homelessness, economic insecurity, financial exploitation, and more. Pine Tree is committed to access to justice for all Mainers, maintaining six offices throughout the state.  

General Undergraduate Internship Description

Opportunities may include interviewing and presenting legal information to clients, and/or research, investigation, and assisting with development and program needs. PTLA also makes an effort to tailor responsibilities to each intern’s respective interests and goals. Interns can expect their experiences to enhance their understanding of Maine's civil legal system and of the obstacles people of low incomes face as they attempt to resolve often overwhelming legal matters.   

Interns will learn how PTLA and other nonprofit legal services providers work to overcome barriers to justice, while making valuable contributions toward this goal. Activities may include attending staff case review sessions, observing court cases, participating in our summer lecture series introducing many of our areas of practice, and participating in group projects.

Duties and Responsibilities may include:

  • Work closely with paralegals to intake new clients both in court and through call center hours.
  • Meet with clients and assist with preparation of necessary paperwork and the collection of relevant evidence, including gathering documents, and photographing living conditions.  
  • Attend case meetings (as schedule allows) where attorneys collaboratively review cases and develop legal strategies for litigation.
  • Shadow advocates at a variety of court proceedings, and possibly observe trial or law court arguments.
  • Participate in a weekly lunch lecture series, gaining exposure to practice areas at Pine Tree across the state and insight into how the various areas of practice work together to provide holistic legal services to low-income Mainers.
  • Assist with community outreach programs and research related to project and grant development.
  • Assist with administrative tasks (data entry, copying, filing, etc.) as assigned.

Requirements  

Pine Tree seeks highly motivated student interns, with a demonstrated interest in working with low-income individuals from diverse backgrounds. Interns should have strong research, writing and communication skills, and the ability to work independently and in a group.  

Pine Tree’s overall capacity to host undergraduate student interns may be limited.  For Summer 2021, we expect to have intern openings for undergraduates in our Portland and Augusta offices only.   In Portland, the openings are with the Family Law/Victims’ Rights Unit and Kids Legal Unit.  In Augusta, the openings are with the Family Law/Victims’ Rights Unit and the Basic Unit (housing, public benefits, and consumer law).  When applying, please note whether you are interested in one or both of those office locations and if you have a particular interest in one of the units mentioned.   

This is an unpaid 10-week summer internship.  Interns generally work full-time (37.5 hours per week).  An exact schedule will be determined by the student and Pine Tree. This year’s internships may be remote, in person, or a combination of both depending on circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and Pine Tree’s organizational response.

Instructions for Applicants

Please submit via email a cover letter and resume to Mary Murphy, Pro Bono Program Paralegal, at mmurphy@ptla.org.  Applications are due by March 15, 2021 and Pine Tree will make hiring decisions by April 15, 2021.  Students must successfully pass a conflict and criminal background check before the internship is finalized.  

Pine Tree values an inclusive and diverse work environment and strongly encourages applications from women, people of color, people who identify as LGBTQIA, people with disabilities, people who have experienced poverty or homelessness, and people belonging to communities that have historically experienced injustice.

Professionals and Community Volunteers

Additionally, PTLA provides a variety of opportunities for professionals to offer their expertise in a public service setting. Among the areas of expertise often needed are: administrative assistants; Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) and enrolled tax agents: fundraising and event planners; web designers, and other technology experts.

If you would like to volunteer with PTLA, please fill out our volunteer form:

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Intern Testimonials

“My experience at Pine Tree was the most transformative work I have done as an undergraduate towards figuring out the path I see myself following upon graduation. As an intern, I was able to shadow attorneys at court, work on cases, and conduct research. Everyone at Pine Tree was willing to help me if there was a topic I was uncertain about, which was particularly useful as I was an undergraduate and not as familiar with legal jargon as a law student may be. All in all, it was an incredible opportunity and summer experience.”

-- Julia, Summer Intern 2017

 

“As an undergraduate intern this summer, I felt incredibly energized by Pine Tree's enthusiasm to involve me in and teach me about their work. The office's supportive community, engaging client interaction, and meaningful responsibilities truly made me look forward to coming to work each day. I left my experience with an increased understanding of the legal system, improved skills, and a passion for legal assistance. Pine Tree's services and outcomes are vital for Maine, and my summer internship allowed me to really dive into that mission.”

-- Olivia, Summer Intern 2017

 

“Thank you so much for the past 7 months, it has been a life changing experience and one I will carry with me for the rest of my life!” 

-- Grace. Intern Jan 2017- July 2017