Get Legal Help
CLA Provides Legal Power to Bay Communities and Advocates
We are the only organization dedicated solely to providing critical legal services, free of charge, to citizens, community groups, local governments, and environmental advocates working to protect the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers, streams, and communities. CLA also provides free legal support to many non-profit organizations with issues related to local water quality within the Bay.
CLA leverages the legal talents of law firms and individual attorneys who volunteer their time to help those who would not otherwise be able to afford legal representation. CLA volunteer attorneys include some of the most experienced attorneys in their fields, with backgrounds in the private and public sectors. Armed with high quality legal representation, CLA clients are empowered to work towards real and lasting change for their Bay communities.
We are the only Bay organization with the capacity to handle almost 100 legal projects each year through our impressive volunteer attorney network. We help clients take water and land pollution enforcement and compliance cases, review permit applications, participate in the public participation process for permitting, draft educational materials, provide corporate support, and much more.
How to Get Legal Help + Client Intake Process
If you have a water quality issue and need legal assistance, please fill out the form below.
After you contact us for legal help, you are considered a potential client. One of our staff members will contact you to begin the intake process. During the intake process, we will collect details about your issue and work with you to identify what type of legal help you may need. During this process we will also identify if your project falls within CLA’s mission and whether we can provide the appropriate support requested. Once we make a determination, we will notify you as to whether CLA can assist you.
If we determine we can assist you, CLA will place your legal issue with a CLA volunteer attorney.
- CLA sends out a Request for Assistance notification to our extensive volunteer attorney network indicating the type of legal assistance needed.
- Volunteer attorneys in our network review the Requests for Assistance notifications and contact CLA when they are available to assist with a specific matter.
- CLA determines which attorneys are best suited to help. This process can take a few days up to a few months.
- Once we have found a suitable attorney match for you, we will introduce you to the attorney, and you can decide if it is a good fit and if you want to work the attorney.
- Finally, you and the attorney will receive a Placement Letter indicating the scope of assistance. You and your attorney will determine the scope of representation.
- CLA staff will track the status of the project, check-in as needed, and close the project upon completion.
- Volunteer attorneys track the services donated and report this to CLA when closing the matter.
Costs and Fees
CLA volunteer attorneys provide legal assistance on a pro bono basis, meaning without charge. We will consider whether potential clients can afford legal assistance on their own or if they qualify for free assistance. CLA volunteer attorneys donate their time to support the mission of CLA and to support you. The scope of pro bono representation will vary by project, but representation is typically free. There are a few instances where the client may need to pay some legal fees or where the attorney and client agree to a reduced rate agreement. In these situations, any fees or costs will be discussed prior to any agreement to work with a specific attorney. If you have any questions about whether we can help you with your legal need please don’t hesitate to contact us.