The Federal Bar Association of the Western District of Washington is active and successful because federal judges and practitioners have dedicated substantial amounts of time to furthering its mission. Becoming active in the FBA-WDWA is a wonderful way for practitioners to interact with and learn from other lawyers in the Western District, and to make a positive contribution to our legal community and to the administration of justice.

Pro Bono Panel

What Does the Panel Do?

Pro se plaintiffs often apply for the appointment of counsel. The Pro Bono Panel has been established to provide counsel, when merited, to individuals who do not have the means to obtain counsel on their own. The court makes a final determination, appointing counsel from the Panel in those cases where the claims appear to have merit and prosecution of the claims would be enhanced by counsel’s participation. Panel participation offers a unique opportunity to gain experience in civil litigation in federal court while providing a valuable community service. The court has funds available to defray some litigation expenses.

The United States District Court for the Western District of Washington’s Plan for Pro Se Litigant Representation in Civil Rights Actions governs the pro bono program and explains which attorneys are eligible to apply for the Panel, the case appointment process, the availability of limited expense reimbursement, and expectations of representation and withdrawal in appointed cases.


Join the Panel

An attorney must be admitted to practice in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington to be eligible for designation as a member of the Pro Bono Panel. While Panelists must have the requisite knowledge under the Rules of Professional Conduct to represent a pro se litigant in a civil rights case in federal court, Panelists may seek a mentor or co-counsel for assistance or guidance by contacting the Pro Bono Coordinator or Pro Bono Committee Chair(s). If you are interested in joining the Panel, either as an individual attorney or as a law firm, please review the Pro Bono Plan and complete the appropriate application form.

  1. Law Firm Panel Application
  2. Individual Attorney Application

If you are accepted to the Panel, you will join the list of attorneys who are willing to be appointed by the court to a civil rights case. The appointment process is as follows:

  1. The Judge concludes appointment of counsel is warranted
  2. The Pro Bono Committee identifies an attorney or law firm on the Panel with the requisite knowledge and interest
  3. The Pro Bono Coordinator advises the attorney or law firm of the appointment, and the appointee has seven days to accept or decline the appointment for a conflict of interest or other good cause; the Judge reviews any declination
  4. The Judge enters an Order of Appointment and the attorney has seven days to enter a notice of appearance

If you are not interested in taking on a case directly, but are an experienced civil rights practitioner, we encourage you to reach out to Emily Nero at (206) 370-8482 or to discuss becoming a mentor for Panelists who may have less experience in civil rights or federal court but are otherwise qualified to be on the Panel.


Federal Civil Rights Clinic

The Federal Civil Rights Clinics provide limited legal representation together with self-help materials to underserved populations navigating the federal court systems. The Legal Clinics are now located in the United States District Courts in both Seattle and Tacoma. The Seattle Clinic is open the first four Thursdays of each month and the Tacoma Clinic is open the first Thursday of each month.  For more information, click here.

For information about volunteering in either Legal Clinic, please contact:

Tracy Morris
Federal Civil Rights Clinic
Executive Director