The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri has several initiatives designed to provide better assistance and improved understanding of process to indigent and self-represented persons in civil cases. These include better compensation and improved training to attorneys appointed to cases involving self-represented indigent persons with initial case review and filing processes. These opportunities provide attorneys in the Eastern District of Missouri with a unique opportunity to fulfill their professional obligation to perform pro bono service to unrepresented civil litigants in the U.S. District Court on a volunteer basis.
While all members of the bar of the Eastern District of Missouri, as a condition for admission to practice, are obligated under Local Rule 12.01 (I) to represent clients in pending cases when appointed by the Court, our programs allow lawyers with a particular interest in pro bono service to serve in a number of different ways.
Law firms, as well as individual attorneys, are encouraged to participate in the Pro Bono roles available: Limited Scope, Intake (Legal Advice Clinic); Limited Scope, Mediation; and General Civil Cases (see application below). To be approved, an attorney must be a member in good standing of the bar of the Eastern District of Missouri and must agree to serve without compensation from the client. Limited compensation for attorney fees and reasonable expenses is available upon application, see https://www.moed.uscourts.gov/appointed-counsel-fees-and-expenses. Lawyers who join the general panel are encouraged to specify case types and areas of practice in which they have a particular interest to serve as appointed counsel. As civil cases involving an unrepresented party become available, panel members may be contacted by the Court for appointment. Lawyers who join as limited scope counsel for mediation may be assigned to represent a self-represented or indigent party in a mediation setting in a particular case.
In addition, the Court has partnered with the St. Louis Bar Foundation and the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis (BAMSL) to assist self-represented litigants with completion of initial filings and case review. Our Legal Advice Clinic is currently held virtually from 10 am-12 pm on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month. The Court and BAMSL continue to recruit and manage a group of volunteer attorneys to help lead this effort as limited scope counsel for intake purposes. Mentee Training Sessions are available for attorneys interested in volunteering with the Legal Advice Clinic. For more information on this program see https://www.bamsl.org/probono. Any attorney or law firm representative interested in providing services should contact the Clerk of Court. The application is attached at the bottom of this page for prospective volunteers. Please email completed Pro Bono Volunteer Applications to: firstname.lastname@example.org.