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1. What is the Chesapeake Legal Alliance (CLA)?
CLA is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to use the law to improve the quality of the Chesapeake Bay.  CLA coordinates a network of lawyers who volunteer their time and professional skills pro bono (free of charge) to representing environmental organizations, citizens’ groups, and individuals in their efforts to improve the health of the Chesapeake and its watershed.  CLA empowers these groups by providing them with legal resources to make their voices heard and actions count in the fight to protect and restore the Bay.

2. What geographic areas does CLA serve?
Assistance is provided throughout the Bay’s 64,000-square-mile watershed, which includes parts of Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and the entire District of Columbia.

3. Who are CLA’s clients?
CLA coordinates assistance to individuals and all types of organizations working towards improving the health of the Bay and its watershed.  Our clients include Waterkeepers, river associations, land conservation and environmental organizations, ad hoc community groups, coalitions, homeowners associations, community groups, outreach and restoration groups, farmers, universities, and municipalities. 

4. What types of matters are addressed through CLA?
CLA matches clients with attorneys on a wide range of matters that affect the Bay and its watershed directly and indirectly.  CLA matters include pollution controls, permit renewals and violations, remediation, enforcement actions, industrial operations, sewer and stormwater issues, construction runoff, land development, wetland and forest protection, agricultural best practice management practice initiatives, legislative policy, strategy development and advocacy.  CLA also provides corporate assistance to groups who share CLA’s vision of a clean and healthy bay. 

5. How does the process for obtaining legal assistance work?
CLA receives inquiries from citizens and organizations in need of legal assistance.  CLA staff gathers information and reviews merits of matters and fit with CLA’s mission to determine whether to undertake to find legal assistance for matters on a pro bono basis.

6. How does CLA find attorney representation?
CLA seeks to place matters within its existing network of attorneys who have expressed interest in working on CLA referred matters as well as solicits assistance from attorneys and law firms not yet part of the CLA network.  Once a client/attorney match has been made, CLA will then connect the two parties.  If the two parties agree to work together, CLA will follow-up as necessary, including learning the final disposition of the matter. 

7. How much does CLA charge to help with my matter?
There are NO fees for CLA’s services.

8. How much will my attorney charge to assist with my matter?
The vast majority of attorneys/ law firms in CLA’s network provide assistance at NO charge to the client.  Some attorneys and law firms have policies that require all clients to fund a small portion of attorney’s fees, while others will charge clients at a discounted rate. 

9. Who is responsible for expenses other than attorney fees?
The client. Examples include court filing fees, transcripts, duplication fees (FOIAs, PIAs), expert witness fees, and consultant fees.  Generally, a client will receive a retainer agreement letter from their attorney that sets forth the costs to be borne by the client.


1.  Who can volunteer at CLA?
Whether you are in active practice or retired, or work in the public or private sectors, CLA will match your skills, interest and experience to a client group in need of your assistance.  CLA also works with pro bono coordinators as a resource for law firm pro bono programs.

2. Is there a place for me with CLA if I do not have a background in environmental law?
Absolutely.  Making positive, lasting changes towards restoring the health of the Bay requires attorneys with diverse backgrounds.  Whether you are a litigator or a transactional attorney, work in a large or small law firm, practice as corporate counsel, teach in a law school, or work for the government, there is a place for you to contribute and utilize your unique combination of talents, interests, and circumstances.  Attorneys with corporate experience are often needed to assist Bay related organizations with not for profit filings, mergers, contract review and other matters.

3. Can I volunteer if I'm not an attorney?
CLA referred matters often need the assistance of engineers, scientists, database experts, and other professionals to serve as experts, consultants, and in other supporting roles.

4. What is expected of CLA volunteers?
CLA volunteers work on projects of their choosing as often as they choose. Once a volunteer attorney agrees to represent a client, the attorney and client will receive a letter from CLA outlining its understanding of the scope of work to be performed by the attorney.  CLA asks that every volunteer report qualifying pro bono hours and apprise CLA of significant developments and the final outcome of their matters.

5. Does CLA provide professional liability insurance for volunteer attorneys?
Yes.  This insurance is primary for attorneys without professional liability insurance and secondary to any other professional liability insurance carried by attorneys and their law firms.

69 Franklin Street
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
phone: (410) 216-9441
fax: (410) 216-7077