Pro Bono

Pro Bono

PLS provides a range of litigation and non-litigation opportunities suitable for individual attorneys, health care professionals, and firms of all sizes.

Pro Bono Opportunities

We are working to expand our Pro Bono Project to enhance our clients’ abilities to vindicate their rights and hold prison officials accountable for unlawful behavior. While our greatest need is for pro bono attorneys to litigate individual civil rights cases that we refer, we aim to provide a range of litigation and non-litigation opportunities suitable for individual attorneys and firms of all sizes. 

Pro Bono Referral Network

PLS refers civil rights and medical malpractice cases to qualified attorneys via our Pro Bono Referral Network. These cases often include claims for excessive force, failure to protect, deliberate indifference to serious medical needs, or discrimination, among other issues. PLS screens intakes and conducts an initial investigation to evaluate whether there is a sound basis for relief on the merits of the case and what procedural obstacles, if any, exist. We then refer suitable cases to pro bono or contingency fee attorneys.  

For those interested in shorter-term litigation, we occasionally refer medical parole (compassionate release) clients whose petitions for release were denied by the Commissioner. Pro bono attorneys can then challenge the denial by filing a certiorari action in Superior Court. 

While PLS is unable to co-counsel on individual cases, we can provide sample documents (e.g. discovery requests and motions) and offer advice and mentorship throughout the litigation. 

To join our Pro Bono Referral Network, please first review our Attorney Expectations and sign up using this form. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to Sarah Blair and

Non-Litigation Opportunities 

If you are an active or retired attorney or legal professional who wants to volunteer with PLS but can’t take on litigation, please reach out via email to Sarah Blair at to discuss the opportunities we currently have available. Opportunities vary depending on our needs, but may include: 

  • Brutality Investigations: PLS’s Prison Brutality Project investigates allegations of guard brutality/excessive force and litigates or refers lawsuits based on the results of our investigations. Once we have gathered relevant documentation, we ask pro bono volunteers to review and summarize the record, assess the strengths and weaknesses, and make a recommendation as to whether there is a viable lawsuit that we can litigate or refer. 
  • Medical Advocacy: PLS receives thousands of intakes from incarcerated people each year, most of which are from individuals suffering from inadequate healthcare in the DOC and county facilities. Pro bono volunteers can help us by reviewing medical records, consulting with pro bono doctors where necessary, and writing advocacy letters on behalf of our clients. Where advocacy fails to achieve the desired results, our pro bono volunteers summarize the record, assess the strengths and weaknesses, and make a recommendation as to whether there is a viable lawsuit for injunctive relief. 
  • Medical Parole Petitions: The Massachusetts medical parole statute requires the release of individuals who are terminally ill or permanently capacitated. PLS works with pro bono counsel to file petitions for eligible clients. This work involves reviewing the client’s medical records, working with pro bono doctors to assess the client, ensuring that the client has a suitable parole plan, drafting and filing a petition with the Department of Corrections, and arguing on the client’s behalf at a hearing before the DOC Commissioner.  
  • Public Records Requests:We occasionally need pro bono support requesting public records and summarizing or analyzing the information we receive. 

Please note that undergraduates and law students who wish to work with PLS should apply to work with us through our internship programs. We do not have the capacity to supervise non-intern student volunteers at this time.  

Systemic Advocacy

Interested in partnering with us to engage in larger systemic advocacy projects, including impact litigation? Please reach out via email to Sarah Blair at PLS generally makes decisions about what larger projects to undertake during our annual retreat in the fall, but it’s never too early to discuss potential opportunities on the horizon.

Medical Pro Bono Opportunities

The medical professionals who have worked with us have assisted PLS in a variety of ways, including educating staff, advising us on our medical advocacy for clients, and reviewing records. We invite medical professionals interested in working with us in any capacity to contact David Milton,