Resource Friday/Pro Bono: National Domestic Violence Pro Bono Directory

Domestic Violence happens.

Resource Friday
Resource Friday

Unfortunately Domestic Violence happens in South Carolina and throughout the nation.

The American Bar Association (ABA) recognized that the prevalence of domestic violence in the United States and recently debuted the NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PRO BONO DIRECTORY.

viernes de recursos
viernes de recursos

Para información en español: https://www.abanet.org/publiced/practical/sp_domviol.html.

Good Job ABA!

-RFW

Follow-up to UNDERSTAND?

MORE, MORE, MORE

Earlier this week, I pointed you toward a New York Times article as well as the Brennan Center study about Language Access in the Courts

Earlier today Claudia Johnson of ProBono.net pointed me toward yet another related work, this one by the State Justice Institute (SJI).

Well worth a follow-up.

-RFW

5 States Receive ProBono.Net Award

What do Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Minnesota, and New York have in common?

Sounds like the start of a joke, but it’s not. If it were, they would be laughing all the way to the bank.

Instead ProBono.Net has awarded these five states’ legal services organizations developing innovative online document assembly projects through its NPADO Demonstration Project.  The projects address legal issues including foreclosure, criminal expungement and the needs of the Spanish-speaking community.

To read more, click here.

Congratulations!

-RFW

Lawyers Stepping Up to Help Families Keep Their Homes

You may have noticed that a couple of recent posts below reference the home foreclosure crisis.  With the growing number of foreclosures in South Carolina and across the United States it is no wonder the housing market is such a hot topic. 

One of the links referenced below is a story from NPR: Lawyers Make Pro Bono Leap into Foreclosures.  It is the story of a man named Mirkab.  Mirkab is a hard working man who ended up with two homes because just as his family purchased a new home and attempted to sell their old home, the market began to crash and they were unable to sell their second home.  Like many other hardworking Americans, Mirkab is trying as hard as he can to keep his finances in good standing, but battling with the mortgage lenders on his own was getting him nowhere.  The story highlights the generosity of lawyers who have responded to the mortgage crisis by doing pro bono work for clients like Mirkab.  With so many families in the same position as Mirkab’s family, we need even more lawyers to step up and take these cases.

According to the National League of Cities 1 in every 374 housing units were part of a foreclosure filing in April 2009.  Due to this insurmountable number, pro bono lawyers willing to tackle the mortgage crisis are desperately needed.  For attorneys who do not specialize in this area of law the learning curve is steep, so a number of organizations across the country are finding ways to make it easier for attorneys to step up and take on these cases.   At probono.net there are resources for attorneys interested in these pro bono cases including templates for legal documents and links to state specific resources.  The Pro Bono Institute reports that legal service programs are typically the only access to the legal system that the poor and those of modest means have.  Foreclosure cases are swamping their work load and pro bono help is needed to share the responsibility.

The Center for Responsible Lending created the Institute for Foreclosure Legal Assistance that awards grants to non-profits and legal aid offices that with adequate resources can help those suffering from the housing crisis.  The grants range from 250,000 to 300,000 and are dispersed over a 3 year period.

The housing crisis hits close to home for many South Carolinians.  The Post and Courier in Charleston, SC ran an article in February telling how Family Services, Inc. was awarded $1.7 million from the National Foreclosure Mitigation Council.  Recipients of the monies included Appleseed, South Carolina Legal Services and Charleston Pro Bono Services.  These programs and this type of funding certainly help to put a dent in the aid needed, but there is much more required if individuals are going to get the legal help they need.

As Robin posted below, the South Carolina Supreme Court lifted the TRO on foreclosures as of Friday.  The Order lifting the TRO  lays out specific steps that must be followed and items that must be included within the court documents to determine whether an individual mortgage qualifies for President Obama’s Home Affordable Modification Program.  The need for attorneys who are knowledgeable about the recent legislation and court orders dealing with the mortgage crisis as well as South Carolina Foreclosure law to take on these pro bono cases is great.  Thank you for all of those working so hard to work within the legal system to find solutions for those struggling with a home foreclosure.

-Allie

Domestic Violence—Access to Legal Assistance

            Robin gave me some of the information she received at the recent Equal Justice Conference in Orlando.  A handout from the ABA Commission on Domestic Violence immediately stood out to me.  They are creating a National Domestic Violence Pro Bono Legal Service Provider Directory.  This directory will increase the number of pro bono attorney’s working with victims of domestic violence.  The directory will be available this summer on their website ProBono.Net.  Through programs in the directory the Commission will use, train and mentor volunteer lawyers.  The directory will make access to the legal process easier for victims of domestic violence.

            Domestic violence is an enormous problem in South Carolina.  According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 35,894 people were victims of domestic violence.  Domestic violence resulted in 28% of the murders in South Carolina in 2006.   The South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault reports that South Carolina ranks 2nd in the nation for the number of women killed by men. 

            If you are an attorney interested in helping victims of domestic violence visit www.abanet.org/domviol to see how you can help.  You can also receive CLE credit by watching a Webinar series on Domestic violence But hurry, the Webinar ends May 27th!

-Allie

Attorneys + Make-Up = Domestic Violence Crusaders

I’m thrilled to introduce this to you. While touring the exhibitors yesterday at the 2009 Equal Justice Conference, I met Rebecca Henry. It was through her that I learned about the ABA/Avon Domestic Violence Pro Bono Directory Project.

Rebecca Henry
Rebecca Henry

The Project is developing a national, searchable, online directory of pro bono programs providing legal assistance to victims of domestic violence.

The directory will be available this summer on ProBono.Net.

And they need attorneys to complete the survey.

There is NO deadline for completing the survey. So complete it at your convenience.

This is especially important now as many domestic violence shelters and legal assistance projects are losing some of their traditional support – and many domestic violence shelters and support services are predicting a rise in domestic violence in the current economic climate.

Please complete the survey! If you’re at the 2009 EJC, you’ll find it in the Exhibition Hall. If not, click here to access the online survey.

And thanks for your assistance in breaking the cycle of domestic violence. And KUDOS to the ABA, the Avon Foundation and probono.net for developing this project.

-RFW

Day 2: EJC – so far . . .

Ok, there’s a quick break in between sessions and yes, my last session ended a few minutes early. And before I forget, yes I’m addicted to blogging. SO, here’s the latest update.

Today I have been able to see friends from home – Tom Trent, Andrea Loney, Shannon Scruggs and Pamela Robinson – as well as friends from other places – Louis Rulli, Richard Zorza, my fellow ATJers and others. Some I’ve only met via cyberspace – Claudia Johnson, it was nice to finally meet you in person!

And, here are the photos from the morning.

CIMG4564Plenary

CIMG4565good crowd at the Plenary

CIMG4566exhibits before the crowd hits . . .

CIMG4567Lawyers and Social Workers Workings Together: Resolving Ethical Dilemmas

CIMG4570ATJ Lunch Roundtable (sans table)

CIMG4572more round (no table)

CIMG4573Fostering Information Sharing and Collaboration to Maximize Successful Team and Partnership Efforts

CIMG4576stay tuned . . .

-RFW

Technology and the Law – 3 online articles

technology-in-the-court

Many thanks to www.selfhelpsupport.org/news for these 3 online articles:

  1. Signs of Innovative Life in the Practice of Law – Transforming Legal Aid by Ronald W. Staudt. This article offers insight into recent changes in the way that technology is affecting law. It notes some of the entities that have impacted the practice including ProBono.net, Kaivo, NPADO and A2J Author, and the way that these technologies are expanding access to justice for individuals living in poverty.
  2. Technology Evangelist Keeps Faith in Legal Aid by Maria Kantzavelos. This article documents the accomplishments of the previous author, Ronald W. Staudt, who proclaims himself the “technology evangelist.” Staudt is the director of Chicago-Kent’s Center for Access to Justice & Technology.
  3. Tazewell County Legal Self-Help Center Opens by Tara Mattimoe. This article introduces the new Self-Help Center in Tazewell County (IL). The purpose of the Center is to assist people unable to afford an attorney. All the information is found online at http://tazewell.illinoislegalaid.org, which is maintained by Illinois Legal Aid Online.

Enjoy!

Robin

And Another Thing . . . I-CAN!® E-File 2008 Reports

Thanks to Kate Bladow at Techno.la and ProBono.net for this additional info!

I-CAN!® E-File 2008 has REPORTS that allow us to see how many filings are completed out of each state. As of this writing 36 South Carolinians had completed their returns using I-CAN!® E-File 2008 for refunds totalling $54,492 and Earned Income Credits (EIC) totalling $18,219.

If you are unfamiliar with the term EIC, you can learn more here. In order to qualify for EIC, taxpayers MUST file a tax return, even if they did not earn enough money to be obligated to file a tax return.

-RFW

A Model Project that’s no Project Runway

Last month, the Pennsylvania Law Weekly posted an article about the Philadelphia Project, a project forestall mortgage foreclosures before they happen. According to the Pennsylvania Law Weekly, this project is now touted as a model foreclosure diversion program.

Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Annette M. Rizzo, who presides over the foreclosure cases diverted into Philadelphia’s program, said one of the greatest challenges is finding resources to get distressed homeowners to avail themselves of the program’s opportunities.

“Getting people into the chute involves outreach that I’ve compared to hand-to-hand combat,” she said.

One component of the Project is the toll-free HOTLINE. Details of the hotline and other services are available on the city and county sheriff’s website, http://www.phillysheriff.com/.

For states that want to review the Project details, the regulations are found online at http://fjd.phila.gov/pdf/regs/2008/cpjgcr-2008-01.pdf.

-RFW

PS Thanks to Claudia Johnson, Kate Bladow, and Matthew Burnett of ProBono.net  and techno.la for pointing me toward the Pennsylvania Law Weekly article!

see previous scaccesstojustice blogs re: foreclosure at https://scaccesstojustice.wordpress.com/?s=foreclosure