Volunteer Attorneys for Rural Nevadans (VARN) was incorporated in December 1996 with the stated purpose to provide pro bono legal services to the low-income residents of rural northern Nevada. VARN applied for and received 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in 1997. Since 1996, VARN’s Pro Bono Project has recruited a panel of over 100 private and public volunteer attorneys to provide free legal services to low-income residents in Carson City, Churchill, Douglas, Lyon, Storey, Humboldt, Elko, and White Pine counties.
In 2000, and in collaboration with the Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence (NNADV), the Domestic Violence Victim’s Assistance Project (DVVAP) was established. In 2001, DVVAP began providing free civil legal assistance to women and children living with domestic violence. DVVAP has grown significantly since 2001. DVVAP expanded VARN’s service area to all 15 rural Nevada counties, providing services in family law matters, child custody and support, paternity, divorce, and guardianship.
In 2011, VARN expanded again by developing the Domestic Violence Rural Immigrant Integration Project (DVRIIP). In 2012, VARN attained Bureau of Immigration Appeals (BIA) site recognition and staff accreditation, making VARN the only agency in rural Nevada to have BIA site recognition and staff accreditation. This project provides legal services in family-based immigration matters to undocumented victims of domestic violence seeking legal resident status in the United States through the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Self-Petition and U-Visa processes. The DVRIIP program is currently on hiatus. Please check back for an update.
In 2018, VARN added the Rural Senior Legal Project (RSLP) to its programs. This program assists seniors (60+) who reside in the following counties: Humboldt, Lander, Pershing, Churchill, and Mineral with any legal problems. This program is free of charge to any senior (60+) in those counties.
VARN also offers a Lawyer in the Lobby (LIL) program. During the pandemic, this program is handled by telephone rather than meeting in person with an attorney. The LIL program offers a twenty (20) minute free consultation with an attorney and is offered five (5) times per month. The first Monday of the month is reserved for questions from Seniors (60+). The first and third Wednesdays of each month are reserved for Family Law issues. The second Wednesday of the month is reserved for general law questions. The fourth Wednesday of the month is reserved for legal questions from Spanish-speaking persons. In order, to access LIL, the participant must call the VARN office at 775-883-8278 and reserve a place on the list for the appropriate date. This program is very popular. VARN also offers Legal Aid Fairs throughout the year throughout the rural counties in Nevada. The Legal Aid Fairs offer free legal consultations with an attorney. Watch the Events section of the website for dates of the Legal Aid Fairs.
VARN Board of Directors
President – James W. Puzey, Esq.
Secretary – Audrey P. Damonte, Esq.
Sandra-Mae Pickens, Esq.
Kara M. Hayes, Esq.
Severin Carlson, Esq.
Marilee Cate, Esq.