United States District Court - Northern District Court of California

Claudia Wilken, Chief Judge

Richard W. Wieking, Clerk of Court

Federal Pro Bono Project

Pro bono representation of parties to civil cases who are unable to afford an attorney is an important responsibility of the bar. Attorneys who are members of the bar of the Northern District have opportunities to represent such parties—both plaintiffs and defendants. 

The Federal Pro Bono Project arranges pro bono counsel for litigants who are referred for appointment of counsel by the Court. Cases range greatly and can include employment discrimination, police misconduct, and foreclosure. Along with full-scope representation opportunities, which often include cases ready for trial, the Federal Pro Bono Project offers cases for limited-scope representation, including settlement conferences before Magistrate Judges.

The Court will reimburse costs, up to $15,000, for attorneys taking a pro bono case. Pro bono counsel may recover attorney’s fees awarded to the plaintiff as the prevailing party or as part of a negotiated settlement of the case. New attorneys are welcome to participate in the Project if they are supervised by experienced attorneys who can provide the necessary procedural and substantive guidance. In addition to providing a valuable service to pro se litigants and the Court, many attorneys find that volunteering is a great way to develop federal court experience.

To learn more or to sign up for pro bono representation opportunities in the San Francisco and Oakland divisions of the Court, please contact Manjari Chawla, Legal Help Center Supervising Attorney, at 415-626-6917.

To learn more or to sign up for pro bono representation opportunities in the San Jose division of the Court, call Pro Bono Project Silicon Valley at 408-998-5298, ext. 311