Rules for Lawyers Participating in Election Official Legal Defense Network (“EOLDN”)

Last Updated: 3 September 2021

About EOLDN

EOLDN is a project of the nonpartisan, nonprofit Center for Election Innovation & Research. EOLDN connects licensed, qualified, pro bono attorneys with election administrators who need advice or assistance. This service is available regardless of the election official’s political affiliation, or whether they work in a blue or red state or county. 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.

Thank you for participating in EOLDN, a project of the Center for Election Innovation & Research (“CEIR”). This network of lawyers provides pro bono representation to present or former election officials who are or have been harassed or threatened or face civil or criminal penalties or adverse employment consequences as a result of state laws. EOLDN is not a Legal Referral Service; there is no fee to participate, and representation must be pro bono. Our goal is to match clients with lawyers.

Below are the rules lawyers participating in EOLDN (“Participating Lawyers” or “PLs”) must follow to be a part of this program. Those seeking help from EOLDN may be facing difficult and stressful circumstances and may feel very isolated. They may be concerned that their job is at risk or they may be scared for their safety and the safety of their families. Matters might need urgent attention. EOLDN’s goal is to match lawyers with clients as efficiently as possible and to do what we can as a matching service to ensure that clients receive prompt, responsive, timely, and competent legal representation. These rules are meant to help EOLDN carry out this goal as effectively as possible.

If you have any questions, please contact us at help@eoldn.org.

Participating Lawyer Eligibility

To be part of the EOLDN, Participating Lawyers must:

  • Be licensed to practice law in at least one state or the District of Columbia.
  • Be engaged in the private practice of law as their primary occupation, either full or part-time.
  • Be in good standing in all jurisdictions in which they are admitted to practice law and have not been subject to discipline in at least the last five (5) years preceding their application for admission to the EOLDN.
  • Have at least two years relevant experience practicing law.
  • Carry professional liability insurance in an amount not less than $250,000 per claim/$500,000 aggregate. PLs shall provide satisfactory evidence that such coverage is in full force and effect if requested by EOLDN.
  • Commit to providing all legal services pro bono for EOLDN-matched clients. Participating Lawyers, may, however, seek reimbursement from clients for reasonable expenses related to the representation such as court filing fees, travel costs, and research expenses, to be negotiated between the Participating Lawyer and client directly.
  • Be able to hold private and confidential meetings, either in-person or on-line.
  • Not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, sex, age, marital status, national origin, mental or physical disability, political belief or affiliation, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, genetic information, and any other class of individuals protected from discrimination under state or federal law.
  • Certify annually to these eligibility requirements to continue volunteering with EOLDN.

Participating Lawyer and Clients

  • EOLDN-Clients: No Attorney-Client Relationship: PL understands that EOLDN is not an organization engaged in the practice of law and is therefore not in an attorney-client relationship with clients and does not provide legal advice. Understanding that the attorney-client privilege will most likely not apply to communications between EOLDN and clients, EOLDN will take reasonable steps to protect the information it obtains from clients and their lawyers and will not share this information except with those assisting with the administration of EOLDN, unless required by law. In addition, to further protect privacy and confidentiality, EOLDN limits the information it collects from potential clients to what is minimally necessary to match a client with a lawyer.
  • Initial Match Outreach Response Time: When EOLDN contacts a PL about taking on a matter, the PL shall respond to EOLDN within no more than two (2) business days and more quickly if the matter is expedited.
  • Intake Meeting-Timing: Once the PL has agreed to do an intake meeting with the potential client, the PL will contact the client within no more than two (2) business days to set up the first meeting and more quickly if the matter is expedited.
  • Intake Meeting-Oversight: The participating lawyer must be part of the intake meeting, even if other lawyers or staff from the PL’s firm are also involved.
  • Hand-Back Procedures: PLs are not obligated to provide further legal service to a client after an intake meeting. The goal is to make a good match and, for one reason or another, the PL and/or the client may decide not to move forward. If the PL declines to move forward, the PL shall hand the matter back to EOLDN within two (2) business days of the intake meeting, with a brief explanation, if possible, why the match did not move ahead. If the Client declines to be represented by the PL, it is the Client’s responsibility to notify EOLDN, although the PL may also do so, and EOLDN would appreciate hearing from the PL.
  • Conflict Clearance: EOLDN will try to provide the information necessary to allow the PL to conduct a conflict check before agreeing to an intake meeting. However, EOLDN understands that information could emerge during an intake meeting that could lead to a need for a further conflict assessment. If a PL needs to hand back a case due to a conflict, the PL shall follow the hand-back procedures explained above.
  • Written Engagement Letters: If the PL and client decide to engage after an initial consult, the PLs must enter into a written engagement letters with client, even if engagement letters are not required by the ethics rules in the PL’s jurisdiction for pro bono representation.
  • Matter Responsibility/Transfer of Matter Responsibility: By accepting a representation, the PL is agreeing to retain ultimate responsibility and control of matter. However, if the PL is part of a firm, the PL may, in their discretion, involve other lawyers, staff, provided the PL lawyer retains control. If it ever becomes necessary or prudent for a PL to transfer control of the matter to another attorney after conferring with the client, the PL shall notify EOLDN of such transfer in writing, providing, if possible, an explanation for why the transfer has occurred. Examples of possible circumstances include the PL is leaving the firm, retiring from the practice of law, has determined that the matter requires a different attorney in the lead, or has withdrawn from the matter in accordance with the ethics rules of the relevant jurisdiction.
  • Ethics Rules: By accepting a representation, the PL is agreeing that they are competent to practice in the relevant area of law and will undertake the representation in accordance with the ethical rules applicable in the relevant jurisdiction, including communicating with clients and keeping them informed and updated about their matter. A PL shall provide its matched clients with the same level of service and consideration as a PL’s paying clients.

Participating Lawyer and EOLDN

  • Responsiveness: PLs shall respond promptly to reasonable requests for information from EOLDN.
  • Administrative Contact: The PL shall designate an administrative contact (“AC”) on their sign-up form. The AC can be but does not have to be another attorney in the PL’s firm but must be someone with whom the PL has an established relationship. The PL authorizes EOLDN to communicate if necessary with the AC. The AC shall promptly notify EOLDN if the AC becomes aware of the PL’s incapacitation, death, or temporary or permanent inability to fulfill the responsibilities of EOLDN participation. This rule does not apply if the PL is a solo practitioner.
  • Updating EOLDN: PLs must promptly provide written notice EOLDN of the following:
    • Changes to contact information, including address, email, telephone number
    • Changes to AC and/or AC’s contact information
    • Changes in professional liability insurance coverage, if it would put the PL below the minimum required for participation in EOLDN
    • If cautioned, admonished, reprimanded, or disciplined by any disciplinary or grievance committee, agency, or court
    • If they are currently under investigation concerning any allegation or professional misconduct or wrongdoing
    • Any other changes that could meaningfully affect your eligibility or ability to participate in EOLDN.
  • Temporary Unavailability: PLs shall notify EOLDN in writing if they are going to be unavailable for four (4) or more weeks to accept matches due to case load, vacation, leave of absence, including the anticipated length of unavailability.
  • Resignation from EOLDN: A PL may resign from EOLDN by providing written notice including, if possible, the reason for the PL’s resignation and the effective date of resignation. If a resigning PL still has an active matter as of the effective date of resignation, the PL shall either continue to handle that matter until it is resolved or transfer matter responsibility as described above. If a resigning PL later wishes to rejoin EOLDN, the PL must submit a new sign up form.
  • Match Disposition Report: Within thirty (30) days after a matter has finally resolved, a PL shall inform EOLDN of the resolution, including a brief summary of how the matter resolved, for example, settlement, court order, mediated or arbitrated result.
  • Supporting EOLDN Assessment and Evaluation: 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, we ask that PLs make every effort to participate in surveys and other information gathering about their experiences with EOLDN. In addition, PLs shall authorize EOLDN/CEIR to contact matched clients to survey their experience with EOLDN. EOLDN will not request information covered by the attorney-client privilege and will not disclose individual-level information without the prior written consent of the PL and the client.
  • Suspension, Withdrawal, Removal and/or Other Action Affecting PLs: EOLDN has the right to remove or suspend PLs in its discretion. PLs will be automatically removed from EOLDN’s list of attorneys if they are disbarred or suspended by the Bar or charge a matched client a fee for their services. Other reasons for removal could include but are not limited to: failure to comply with eligibility requirements such as the professional liability insurance requirement; failure to certify compliance with eligibility requirements on an annual basis; failure to comply with these rules, including repeated failures to meet with or respond to clients in a timely fashion or to respond to EOLDN communications; serious and/or repeated complaints from clients or EOLDN staff; violations of applicable ethic rules; conviction of a misdemeanor or felony in any jurisdiction; and engaging in conduct detrimental to EOLDN’s goals and objectives.
  • PL Advertising: A PL shall not participate in, or allow, any advertising or other promotional activity that refers to the PL’s involvement in EOLDN, except that a PL may state that they volunteer with EOLDN on their website, in their bios, in connection with speaking engagements, etc.
  • Indemnity: PL shall indemnify, defend, and hold harmless CEIR and its officers, directors, advisory committee members, employees, agents, affiliates, and contractors from and against any and all claims, liabilities, damages, losses, expenses, demands, suits, and judgments, including without limitation reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs, arising from or relating to their participation in EOLDN.
  • Rule Changes: CEIR reserves the right to amend these rules from time-to-time. The date of any amendment will be reflected in the “Last Updated Date” above. EOLDN will notify PLs and clients of changes by email.