Pro Bono Legal Services

The SCBA encourages attorneys to provide pro bono legal services or to otherwise volunteer in community activities.

Sacramento lawyers engage in a myriad of pro bono projects and there are many ways to get involved.

What is pro bono legal work?

ABA Model of Professional Conduct 6.1 essentially defines pro bono legal work as (a) free or substantially reduced-rate legal work for nonprofit organizations or persons of limited means, or (b) volunteer work for organizations improving the legal system or access to justice. The California State Bar Board of Governors uses a similar definition.


Why participate?

The ABA and State Bar encourage attorneys to perform at least 50 hours of pro bono work annually. Pro bono work has many benefits. Lawyers can give back to the community through programs that are personally meaningful to them while making contacts with colleagues, developing skills, and gaining exposure to new practice areas. Many law firms find that robust pro bono programs are good for business, in terms of recruiting and retaining talented lawyers, presenting a positive image to prospective and existing clients, and enhancing the firm’s recognition and standing in the broader community.

California State Bar

The State Bar’s website has a page dedicated to pro bono legal services with useful links and information.


Legal Services of Northern California

Legal Services of Northern California (LSNC), founded in Sacramento in 1956, operates in 23 Northern California counties. LSNC provides crucial civil legal services to tens of thousands of needy and vulnerable individuals, while also engaging in complex, sophisticated advocacy—through litigation, legislation, administrative advocacy, and community development work—which has a significant positive impact for our entire client community in the areas of affordable housing, public benefits, health, education, and civil rights. For information on volunteer opportunities with LSNC, visit its Pro Bono Services page.


Voluntary Legal Services Program

The Voluntary Legal Services Program (VLSP), which is jointly sponsored by the Sacramento County Bar Association and LSNC, is a nonprofit that provides the main source of civil law-related pro bono assistance in the Sacramento region. Its mission is “to secure access to justice for people of limited means through the use of volunteers providing pro bono assistance, educating clients to create greater knowledge and self-sufficiency.” Lawyers may volunteer at clinics for low income clients held at VLSP’s office at 501 12th Street in Sacramento or accept pro bono case referrals.


U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California Pro Bono Program

The federal court in Sacramento has an active pro bono program. Volunteers represent prisoners as plaintiffs in lawsuits challenging conditions of confinement or alleging unconstitutional treatment. In addition to providing an opportunity for public service, these cases are especially appropriate for young lawyers who might otherwise not have the experience of trying a civil case to a jury in federal court. Lawyers also may accept a limited purpose appointment.

SCBA Pro Bono
Committee Members

The Pro Bono Committee promotes pro bono work in the Sacramento legal community by providing information about volunteer opportunities and recognizing volunteers. Please contact the Chair if you are interested in serving on the Committee.

Jeffrey Galvin (Chair)
Downey Brand LLP

Scott Alexander
Murphy Austin Adams Schoenfeld LLP 

Elizabeth Bacon
Sacramento County Bar Association Executive Director 

Rachael Blucher
Hanson Bridgett LLP 

Sergio Diaz
Retired Attorney

Vicki Jacobs
Voluntary Legal Services Program

Daniel Kim
Weintraub Genshlea Chediak Tobin & Tobin

Cynthia Larsen
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP 

Mary-Beth Moylan
McGeorge School of Law 

Jeff Nordlander
Huguenin Kahn LLP

Sujean Park
USDC Eastern District of California 

Daniel Quinley
Stoel Rives LLP 

Sil Reggiardo
Downey Brand LLP

Lisa Ryan
Cook Brown LLP 

Sunny Sarkis
Stoel Rives LLP

Past SCBA Pro Bono Award Winners

Each year the SCBA Pro Bono Committee presents an award to one or more attorneys for outstanding pro bono service. Past winners are listed below:

  • 2018  Norman Hile of Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP for pro bono activities over the course of his career, including the representation of a death row inmate
  • 2017   Ashley West of Carter West, for her work with WEAVE
  • 2016   Ron Blubaugh for his work with the Tommy Clinkenbeard Clinic, and Duane Phillips for his work with the Senior Legal Hotline
  • 2015   Darrel Woo, for his work with My Sister’s House
  • 2014   Danny Moore, for his work with the Voluntary Legal Services Program, and John Davis, for his work with Legal Services of Northern California
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