by Mac Bailey
(Plain Press, August 2014) Legal Aid’s mission is to secure justice for low-income residents by providing high quality legal services that come at no cost. If you have a civil legal issue, but can’t afford an attorney, the Legal Aid Society can help. A primary way of getting started with Legal Aid is by attending one of the many free legal clinics located all over the Cleveland area.
Are you aware that creditors can’t harass you to collect a debt? Did you know that one could obtain a special immigration visa that protects victims of crime, including domestic violence survivors? That you should not leave your home just because you received a foreclosure notice? Legal Aid helps its clients with these issues, along with many more.
It is so often the case that the most vulnerable are unaware of, or unable to exercise, their legal rights. Not only does this deepen individual poverty, but it also greatly affects the community at-large. For example, when the foreclosure crisis hit Cleveland, the problems deepened when residents left their homes before looking at options to deal with the foreclosures they were facing. If residents had stayed, and sought counsel from Legal Aid attorneys, they could have saved the home, or at least extended their stay. Instead, Cleveland was left with a vacancy problem that it is still fighting.
A recent housing case that Legal Aid handled was one in which a disabled man, who was unable to work, was locked out of his home after an individual broke in and set fire to the unit. Surely, without the services of Legal Aid, he would have become homeless. Luckily, he had a highly skilled attorney who was able to prove that he was not at fault for the fire, and make the landlord give him a new apartment. In so many cases like this one, help from Legal Aid helps one from going deeper into poverty, or may help someone escape from poverty.
In every type of case that is handled, Legal Aid gets results. Last year, foreclosures were prevented in 76 percent of its cases, barriers to education were removed in 89 percent, and eviction was prevented in 99 percent.
Legal Aid’s clinics provide free legal advice from attorneys on civil (noncriminal) issues for low-income individuals. Clients receive advice on a first come, first-served basis. It is often the case that one may receive all the help they need at a clinic, but if more assistance is needed, Legal Aid will continue working with you, especially if representation is needed.
If you or anyone you know needs help with a noncriminal problem, attend one of Legal Aid’s upcoming free legal advice clinics:
Saturday, August 9, 9:30-11:00 a.m., at the Carnegie West Branch of the Cleveland Public Library, 1900 Fulton Rd., Cleveland.
Saturday, August 13, 5:00-6:30 p.m., at the East Cleveland Public Library, 14101 Euclid Ave., Cleveland.
Saturday, September 13, 5:00-6:30 p.m., at the Glenville Branch of the Cleveland Public Library, 11900 St. Clair Ave., Cleveland
For more information, or if you are unable to attend one of the free clinics, call Legal Aid at 216-687-1900 or 888-817-3777, or visit Legal Aid online at http://www.lasclev.org.
Editor’s Note: Mac Bailey is a development intern at Legal Aid. He is native to the Cleveland area, living in Kirtland. Currently, Bailey attends Sewanee, The University of the South, and intends on going to law school after college.