Alabama State Bar
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Asb Lawyers Reach Out To Meet Needs Of Poor

Montgomery, Nov. 15, 2004 - If you are poor in Alabama and need a divorce, the obstacles can be overwhelming. The Alabama State Bar and a group of Montgomery attorneys are making an effort to change that. A special "Divorce Clinic" will be held Friday November 19, 2004, at the offices of Ball, Ball, Matthews and Novak, 2000 Interstate Park Drive, in Montgomery. The clinics will begin at 8:00 am and will see a total of 12 clients in groups of four at 8:00, at 9:00 & at 10:00 am. Legal Services Alabama screened all clients for eligibility.

The clinic idea came about in an effort to try to assist more low income Alabamians with legal problems. The director of the Volunteer Lawyer Program of the Alabama State Bar, Linda Lund, decided that she could maximize resources by asking a firm to commit to seeing a group of clients on one day as opposed to sending cases one at a time to individuals in a firm. Lund discussed this idea with Allison Alford Ingram, vice-chair of the Alabama State Bar Committee on Volunteer Lawyer Programs/Access to Legal Services and she volunteered her firm. Working together with Legal Services Alabama and the firm, the group identified an area of law in which there was a client need and that the firm's attorneys wished to provide service. They choose divorces because of the overwhelming need in that area. Due to budget and staffing cuts, Legal Services Alabama, the main provider of legal assistance to the poor, is not able to assist clients who need a divorce. "Therefore if you are poor in Alabama and cannot afford to hire an attorney you are forced to stay married, leaving issues of child custody, child support, visitation, and division of property without resolution. Knowing of the great need in the family law area, Ingram's firm of Ball, Ball, Matthews and Novak decided this was where they needed to offer their help." Lund stated.

Lund added, "One problem arose in its the firms normal practice is in a general business and defense-oriented civil practice, such areas as business litigation, medical malpractice, professional liability matters, employment law, worker's compensation, governmental entity and trucking defense. In short the firm's attorneys do not normally handle family law cases. To brush up on their family law skills the firm's attorneys participated in special family law training." In addition, Ricky Battaglia an attorney in Montgomery who has developed a divorce software program, Quickcase Uncontested Divorce in Alabama, donated a copy of the software for use by the firm's attorneys with these divorce clinic cases.

For more information, contact Allison Alford at (334) 387-7680.