Why Should I Volunteer for LCA?
Our profession strongly encourages attorneys to provide pro bono services. LCA provides a very interesting and convenient way for attorneys to satisfy this obligation. Most of our matters do not involve litigation, which is attractive to many transactional lawyers. The matters we refer are predominantly short-term time commitments. You will work with talented, interesting and creative clients, many of whom, with your help, will go on to successful careers. You will learn, or sharpen skills in the arts and entertainment areas. We also provide opportunities for volunteers to join boards of directors of arts organizations. Our volunteers enjoy and benefit from their work with us and more importantly, enjoy the satisfaction of applying their legal skills to the advancement of arts and culture in their community. Register Now.
How Do I Learn of Opportunities for Volunteer Attorneys?
We regularly post our Case List of all our pending opportunities for pro bono and reduced fee representation of LCA clients. The Case List is broken down by subject area of art (music, theatre, literary, etc.) and by area of legal practice (copyright, trademark, employment, real estate, litigation, etc.) We update the Case List several times a week, so check back to find a matter that appeals to you. On a regular basis, we distribute lists of our pro bono opportunities to those on our Volunteer Panel and to Pro Bono Coordinators at various law firms. These lists are broken down by subject area of art and area of legal practice. If you would like to volunteer, and if you have an opening in your schedule, you need not wait. Simply contact our Staff, who will assist you in finding a suitable LCA matter.
What Do I Do Next?
If you are interested in handling a particular matter, call or e-mail us and we will provide further information, including the client’s name, and other names required for you to clear any conflicts. The distribution lists we send out show clients by file number, rather than name, to protect their privacy. Once you complete a conflict check and obtain approval from your firm, please let us know so that we can complete our paperwork. We will send a notice to you and to the client, asking the client to contact you for legal service and explaining the nature of the pro bono relationship. Then, it is up to the two of you to meet and go forward with the engagement and draft an appropriate engagement letter, as you would with any other client.
What Training Does LCA Provide?
LCA’s Video Law Library is an expanding portfolio of 30- to 120- minute videos for the general practice attorney to acquire a working knowledge of specific areas of arts and entertainment law. Videos provide practical advice on relatively narrow topics such as licenses covering specific kinds of intellectual property -- i.e., music performance, recordings, visual arts, and literary works. We also cover contracts and corporate formalities relating to a range of arts activities, such as film, theater, composition and design. Most videos include model agreements and other secondary sources, and the speakers provide line-by-line review and analysis of contract terms as well as drafting tips and negotiating strategies. The Library’s primary goal is to assist volunteer lawyers representing pro bono clients through LCA. The Library’s secondary goal is to expand the community of lawyers practicing arts and entertainment law in Illinois.
What About Fees and Costs?
Most of our clients qualify for pro bono service, and our volunteers do not charge attorneys’ fees. If there are out of pocket expenses involved in your engagement, such as filing or registration fees, the client is responsible for the costs.
What About Clients Who Do Not Qualify for Pro Bono Services?
We screen all clients for pro bono eligibility. We frequently have clients who do not qualify for pro bono services, but who come to us for referrals to attorneys who are expert in the arts, entertainment, intellectual property and other fields. These clients usually cannot afford full market rates. We distribute paying client notices along with our monthly case list. In some cases, clients need legal help to start projects that may generate income. Attorneys who accept these matters often set up a sliding scale for fees or accept deferred fee or contingent fee arrangements.
What is the Extent of the Engagement with the Client?
The client is referred to a volunteer attorney for a specific legal matter, which we communicate to you. You are not obligated to handle any further legal needs for the client, although you are certainly free to agree with the client to do so. If you do not want to handle any additional matters, you may refer the client back to LCA.
After I Accept a Matter, What is LCA’s Role?
Once you accept a client, you will have your customary confidential attorney client relationship and should treat your clients like any other client. We are available to help with general advice and sample contracts, when available and appropriate. We do not have to be kept advised of progress, although we are always prepared to give whatever assistance volunteer attorneys may need. We maintain a specialized arts and entertainment library that may be of use to volunteers, and we keep our doors open. We do want to be advised when you close a matter, so that we can update our records. We also want to know how many hours you spend on volunteer matters so that we can report the value of provided services to our grantors.
Are LCA Matters Transactional or Litigation?
We have both, but the majority of our matters are transactional. Our clients need general business advice and contracts of every nature. We also have real estate, employment, nonprofit management, immigration and many other types of matters. We do have many clients with disputes, usually involving breach of contract, or intellectual property rights. Most disputes can be resolved through negotiation, but some may require filing complaints. We encourage clients and attorneys to mediate through our Patricia Felch Arts Mediation Service.
What About Malpractice Insurance?
LCA cannot provide malpractice insurance for the many hundreds of matters referred to volunteer attorneys every year, and your own firm’s malpractice insurance policy should cover such representations. Check with your carrier to determine coverage. We are able to offer malpractice insurance to volunteers whose work does not require them to maintain coverage – i.e., for attorneys in corporate legal departments.