Last Updated: April 2023
The following are definitions, requirements, and terms of service for any individual submitting a request to the Election Official Legal Defense Network (“EOLDN”) to be matched with a pro bono lawyer. EOLDN is a project of the nonpartisan, nonprofit Center for Election Innovation & Research (“CEIR”).
These definitions will help you review the eligibility requirements and terms of service:
- “Participating Lawyers” or “PLs” are individual lawyers who sign up to participate in EOLDN, independent of their firm as a whole and regardless of whether their firm is a Participating Law Firm. PLs are subject to the EOLDN Rules for Participating Lawyers and Law Firms.
- “Participating Law Firms” or “PLFs,” are law firms that sign up to participate in EOLDN, subject to the EOLDN Rules for Participating Lawyers and Law Firms.
- “PLF Assigned Attorney(s)” are lawyers who are assigned to a matter by a PLF.
- “Request Submitter” is the individual submitting a lawyer match request to EOLDN.
The following are important requirements and terms of service for any individual submitting a request for EOLDN to match the individual to a participating network lawyer (“PL”). EOLDN is a project of the nonpartisan, nonprofit Center for Election Innovation & Research (“CEIR”).
Eligibility requirements for submitting a legal match request to EOLDN:
- The Request Submitter must be (or have been) an election official. An election official is either (a) a recognized governmental election authority, or (b) someone acting under the supervision of a recognized governmental election authority. Anyone acting under the supervision of a political party (e.g., a partisan poll watcher) is not eligible.
- The request must relate to the individual’s work in elections administration.
EOLDN Legal Match Request Terms of Service:
- EOLDN understands that Request Submitters, as current and former government officials, might be subject to laws, rules and regulations that could affect their ability to accept services from third parties, including services provided without charge. Recently, for example, some states have enacted laws that may restrict the ability of election agencies and officials to receive private funds to support the administration of elections. These laws are commonly referred to as private funding bans. By submitting a request, the Request Submitter represents that they are permitted to make the request and accept pro bono legal services under all applicable gift, ethics, private funding bans, and other laws, regulations, rules, policies, or procedures (collectively “Laws”). If the Request Submitter needs additional factual information about EOLDN to make this assessment, the Request Submitter is encouraged to contact EOLDN at firstname.lastname@example.org. EOLDN cannot provide legal advice to Request Submitters about the Laws, but EOLDN might be able to answer questions about how the service works to assist Request Submitters with their evaluation. If the Request Submitter proceeds with a match, they are encouraged to discuss any questions they have about the Laws with their PL/PLF-Assigned Attorney.
- EOLDN will review each request. If EOLDN believes there are PLs or PLFs who may be able to help, EOLDN will try to match the request with an appropriate PL or PLF. If EOLDN is unable to identify an appropriate PL or PLF, EOLDN may try to identify lawyers outside the network who could assist the Request Submitter. EOLDN will let the Request Submitter know if the matched attorney is not a PL or from a PLF. EOLDN will notify the Request Submitter if it does not believe it will be able to match the request.
- By trying to match a request, EOLDN has determined only that the request meets EOLDN’s eligibility requirements. EOLDN takes no position on the substance or merits of any request or legal matter, does not guarantee a result or outcome, and does not endorse the individual submitting the request in any capacity. As a public charity exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, CEIR may not participate or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, candidates for public office. CEIR shall deny any request that EOLDN, in its sole discretion, believes constitutes illegal campaign intervention.
- The Request Submitter must not state or otherwise suggest in communications, public or private, that EOLDN or its parent nonprofit organization, the Center for Election Innovation & Research (“CEIR”) has in any way endorsed the Request Submitter or the Request Submitter’s request or legal position.
- CEIR, as host of EOLDN, is not an organization engaged in the practice of law and is therefore not in an attorney-client relationship with Request Submitters. This means that CEIR cannot and will not provide legal advice.
- EOLDN cannot guarantee confidentiality or the privacy of submitted information. However, EOLDN will take reasonable steps to protect the confidentiality of information it obtains from a Request Submitter and matched PL or PLF and will not share this information except with PLs or PLFs and/or those assisting with the administration of EOLDN, unless required by law.
- Participation in EOLDN is free of charge regardless of the outcome of the matching process.
- To participate in EOLDN, PLs or PLFs are required to take on matters for equitable relief on a pro bono basis. Equitable relief generally means that you would like the opposing party/parties to do or stop doing something. However, PLs or PLFS are not required to take on representations for monetary relief to participate in EOLDN. Though no match is guaranteed, if you are seeking monetary relief, it may be more difficult for EOLDN to identify a PL or PLF for you. If EOLDN is unable to match you with a PL or PLF willing to handle claims for monetary damages, with your permission, EOLDN could still try to match with a PL or PLF to consult with you about your situation. For example, a PL or PLF might be able to help you to assess your situation and understand your options, including whether you might have equitable remedies.
- A matched PL or PLF is not obligated to provide further legal services after an initial intake meeting. Similarly, a Request Submitter is not obligated to move ahead with a matched PL or PLF after the intake meeting. If a matched PL or PLF declines to move forward, the PL or PLF shall hand the request back to EOLDN, and EOLDN will try to set up another match. EOLDN does not guarantee it will be able to make a successful match. If the Request Submitter declines to be represented by a PL or PLF or decides to no longer pursue a match, EOLDN will not try to set up another match. The Request Submitter must notify EOLDN if they change their mind and decide that they would like EOLDN to continue the matching process.
- EOLDN matches requests to PLs or PLFs based on PLs’ or PLF’s indicated willingness to accept requests in areas of law relevant to the request and ability to practice law in the Request Submitter’s jurisdiction. In making a match, EOLDN is not endorsing the matched PL or PLF or representing that the matched PL or PLF is more qualified than another PL, PLF, or any other lawyer.
- If representation proceeds beyond the initial intake meeting, the matched PL or PLF is required to enter into a written engagement letter with the Request Submitter. CEIR is not a party to this agreement and cannot assist with negotiating the agreement.
- The initial intake meeting with the matched PL is free of charge. If the representation moves forward, the matched PL or PLF will provide their services pro bono, meaning that the PL or PLF will not charge fees for the time they spend representing the Request Submitter. However, the PL or PLF has the right to require reimbursement for expenses such as court costs and travel expenses, as negotiated between the Request Submitter and the PL or PLF and reflected in the engagement letter.
- If a matched PL works in a law firm, other lawyers, paralegals, or support staff might be involved in the representation, but the PL will supervise the representation unless the PL and the Request Submitter agree otherwise.
- PLs or PLFs are expected to inform EOLDN of the resolution of a request within thirty (30) days of being resolved. This includes a brief summary of how the matter resolved, for example, settlement, court order, mediated or arbitrated result. EOLDN will not request information covered by the attorney-client privilege and will not disclose individual-level information without prior written consent.
- EOLDN is part of CEIR’s overall work of restoring trust in the American election system and promoting election procedures that encourage participation while ensuring election integrity and security. To help CEIR assess the efficacy of its work, CEIR may ask Request Submitters to voluntarily participate in surveys about their experiences with EOLDN and their matched PL(s) or PLF(s). EOLDN will not request information covered by the attorney-client privilege and will not disclose individual-level information without prior written consent.