Legal Services Offices
Why is this assistance important to these clients?
We provide access to justice. Without our legal counsel and representation, the promise of "justice for all" is an empty phrase. Many low-income people are unable to represent themselves adequately in legal matters or even recognize that their problem has a legal component for which they can obtain assistance. We help them make informed decisions, resolve their civil legal problem, and provide them with the necessary information to take action in the future.
What legal problem do these clients face?
Denial of government assistance; refusal of medical treatment; problems of disabled children; problems of the elderly; domestic violence; issues relating to disability; housing issues.
What legal strategies do the pro bono lawyers use to assist the clients?
Volunteers will meet with clients to develop a legal analysis of their problems; decide on appropriate legal course of action, provide in-depth legal counseling, and/or court or administrative representation.
What are the outcome goals of this assistance?
The primary goal of all of the assistance we provide is the resolution of the client’s problem.
Give a short (1-paragraph) case example:
Some in-house volunteers are trained and supervised to handle federal disability benefit appeals. Others help elderly clients with nursing home or consumer problems. Others represent people being evicted from their apartments who have defenses to the eviction; others represent victims of domestic violence. John and Katherine are an elderly married couple and their only sources of income are John’s pension and social security, which are deposited into a joint bank account. When a judge ordered Katherine to pay a debt from years earlier, the creditor executed on the couple’s joint bank account. Katherine filled out a form to have the income from John’s pension and social security payments—the couple’s only income—exempt from the execution as specified by law. They were granted a hearing. The judge at the hearing asked a lawyer in the courtroom to help the creditor and Katherine and John come to an agreement. Under the agreement, Katherine and John agreed to pay over $1,500 plus additional fees. Feeling that this agreement was unfair, John and Katherine contacted CLS for guidance. Their CLS attorney reviewed their case, and helped John and Katherine request the return of their money. When the courts granted John and Katherine a second hearing, they had the assistance of their CLS attorney. The judge ruled in favor of John and Katherine and ordered that their money be returned to them.