Time Commitment

The time commitment per case varies depending on the case type.  However, attorneys have full control over which referrals to accept and how often they choose to accept a case.  Accepting even one case per year can make a tremendous difference and we are always grateful to attorneys willing to consider referrals from us.  Typically, we would not send more than two requests per year, and we avoid sending referrals to a volunteer who is already working on a pending Pine Tree pro bono case.

How it works

  • Once we have identified a case that is appropriate for pro bono referral and have consent from the client to reach out to private attorneys, Pine Tree’s pro bono team contacts attorneys by email with information needed for conflict checks, usually followed by a more detailed summary of the case.   
  • Cases may be for consultation only, limited representation, or full representation.
  • If the volunteer is able to accept the case, Pine Tree sends case documents to the volunteer and referral paperwork to both the volunteer and the client.
  • In most cases, the client is responsible for initiating contact with the volunteer; and the volunteer has the opportunity to talk with the client before making a final commitment to accept the case.
  • Pine Tree’s pro bono staff will check in with the attorney periodically – at least quarterly – to request time reports and updates on the case status.
  • When the case is completed, the volunteer is asked to submit a brief case closing report to Pine Tree.


  • In addition to the inherent satisfaction of helping neighbors with unmet civil legal needs – often relating to safety, fairness, and income stability – working on a Pine Tree pro bono case can offer valuable experience in a new area of practice or the opportunity to develop skills.   
  • Referrals may offer litigation experience to attorneys who otherwise spend little time in court.
  • While pro bono attorneys do not charge fees to clients, some case types may be eligible for attorneys’ fees from the adverse party if the case is successful.  In some affirmative cases, the volunteer attorney may enter into a contingency fee agreement with the client.
  • Pine Tree offers malpractice insurance and maintains a litigation fund which (upon approval) may cover litigation costs as needed.
  • Pro bono involvement can also connect you with Pine Tree staff resources and in-house expertise.