Protect Your Ministry and Legal Aid Volunteers

A growing number of churches provide free legal aid to members of the congregation and others in their communities. While this ministry activity can be a unique way to serve a community, problems sometimes arise if a ministry volunteer makes an error while helping.

The last thing any church or ministry wants is a lawsuit sparked by a service project. Legal Aid Activity Incidental Liability Coverage provides insurance protection that can help churches and ministries withstand the potential financial brunt of claims resulting from legal aid errors.

Covering Many Aspects of Legal Aid

This endorsement covers many of the services normally associated with legal aid service organizations. It helps protect ministries from financial damages that the ministry’s staff may have to pay as the result of a ministry worker’s legal aid error. It also will reimburse the legal aid volunteer for certain legal defense costs. 

This optional policy endorsement covers services like:

  • Legal research and information gathering
  • Legal advice and consultation
  • Notary services
  • Assistance with and preparation of certain legal documents
  • Referral of individuals to law firms and the like

If a ministry worker makes an error in any of these areas, Legal Aid Activity Incidental Liability Coverage will assist the ministry by paying up to $500,000 for a legal aid error. This coverage also reimburses up to $100,000 to cover the costs of defending a legal aid volunteer if the volunteer becomes the subject of a legal disciplinary hearing or contempt proceeding.

This coverage is offered only if legal aid services are provided free of charge to those who use them. It does not provide coverage for professional or fee-based legal services of any kind. For example, if volunteers were to sign legal documents, appear in court on behalf of someone, or formally represent a client, this coverage would not apply. It also does not cover assistance related to tax services.

Help Volunteers Prevent Errors

Churches can do their part in preventing problems like this by using a screening process for their volunteers. Each volunteer should have significant legal experience coming into the job. If volunteers aren’t as skilled in a particular area, they should be trained thoroughly. Churches should also confirm that volunteer attorneys are licensed to give legal advice in your state prior to allowing them to volunteer for any legal aid on behalf of the church

Churches can avoid confusion with their clients by defining what services the ministry will provide and what they won’t. Every service is different, and clients should be made aware of what’s offered when they initially inquire or ask for help. Legal aid ministries also should define a scope of work for each client (i.e. identify the problem, discuss expectations, etc.). This will help prevent misunderstandings.

Ministry-based legal aid can be a great way to serve and spread the gospel since many people are in need of legal help. Your volunteers are a blessing to your ministry and keep it running to its full potential. Legal Aid Activity Incidental Liability Coverage protects these volunteers when they’re providing legal advice and assistance so that your ministry can reach as many people as possible and further the kingdom through their work. Talk to your Brotherhood Mutual agent, or find one here.