State's Poor And Disadvantaged To Receive Free Legal Help From Alabama State Bar Members At Clinics
Birmingham, Ala., September 26, 2006 - Alabama's poor who are unable to afford a private lawyer and need assistance with family law matters including domestic violence, child support orders, custody and divorce, will benefit from the legal assistance of lawyers working pro bono to make life fairer and better for low-income and disadvantaged Alabamians.
A special "Divorce Clinic" is scheduled to be held on September 27-28 at the law offices of
Maynard, Cooper & Gale, P.C., 1901 6th Avenue North, Birmingham. The law firm, one of the state's largest, is working in partnership with the Alabama State Bar's Volunteer Lawyer Program and the Birmingham Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program. The clinic will operate from 9-11 a.m. on both days and 80 lawyers have been trained in a special program geared to handling pro bono family law matters. They will provide free services to clinic clients. Legal Services of Alabama screened all clients for eligibility.
The idea for the clinic was borne from discussions between Linda Lund, director of the state bar's Volunteer Lawyer Program and Allison Alford Ingram (Ball, Ball Mathews & Novak, Montgomery), chair of the bar's Volunteer Lawyer Committee. They agreed that divorce is an area of law which affects an overwhelming number of poor persons. Budget and staffing cuts have left Legal Services of Alabama, the state's main provider of legal assistance to the poor, unable to assist the large number of clients who require access to justice and civil representation in these matters.
Lund said, "In divorce situations, people without the financial means to hire an attorney are forced to stay married, leaving issues of child custody, support, visitation and division of property, without resolution. Knowing the great need that exists, Maynard, Cooper & Gale decided this is where they could offer help."
She noted that Ted Hosp and Frank McPhillips, chair of the law firm's Pro Bono Committee, devoted significant time to coordinating the training sessions and arranging for the clinics.
The Alabama State Bar is dedicated to promoting the professional responsibility, competence and satisfaction of its members; improving the administration of justice, and: increasing public understanding and respect for the law.