Clinics enable VLSP to serve a large number of clients efficiently while providing the level of service needed by clients.
- Debt Collection Advice Clinic / Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
- Family Law Clinic
- Pro Se Divorce Clinic
- Wills Clinic
- Low Income Taxpayer Clinic
- Micro-Entrepreneur Program Clinic
Debt Collection Advice Clinic / Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Clients who are experiencing debt problems are served by VLSP's Debt Collection Advice Clinic. This clinic is divided into two sessions and is held every other month between the hours of 4:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. The first clinic is the teaching session where a volunteer attorney gives general advice and presents information through a PowerPoint presentation prepared by VLSP. The attorney discusses debt problems including harassing phone calls from credit agencies, garnishment of wages and bankruptcy chapter 7 and 13. This session meets at the Federal Courthouse located at 100 State Street. Approximately two weeks after the teaching session, the individual counseling session takes place at VLSP's offices. Clients who meet certain eligibility criteria are invited back to meet individually with a volunteer attorney to discuss their debt situation in more detail. After the meeting, the attorney will make a recommendation concerning the client's suitability to file a chapter 7 bankruptcy. This clinic provides an efficient way to advise all those who believe they need bankruptcy relief and to screen for those clients who do need bankruptcy protection or other collection representation.
Family Law Clinic
The Family Law Clinic provides an opportunity for clients who are seeking custody of their children to meet individually with a pro bono attorney at VLSP's offices. The client receives advice and assistance in completing a petition for custody. Volunteer paralegals assist with preparation of the petitions. The VLSP Family Law Staff Attorney and Family Law Paralegal are available to provide guidance during the clinic. This clinic is held twice a month between the hours of 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at VLSP's offices.
Pro Se Divorce Clinic
Clients who are seeking an uncontested divorce are served by VLSP's Pro Se Divorce Clinic. An attorney teaches a series of three classes for clients to complete the many forms necessary to obtain a divorce. Volunteer attorneys and paralegals also assist clients in completing the forms and notarizing documents. This clinic is held from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. at either the Hall of Justice or at VLSP's offices.
The Wills Clinic assists clients who want to prepare simple Wills, Health Care Proxies and Powers of Attorneys. Many of clients are single parents who want to prepare a Will in order to name a guardian for their children in the event that their illness prevents them from raising their children to adulthood. The clinic is held quarterly at various community sites from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Low Income Taxpayer Clinic
The Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) educates members of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (D/HH) community about their rights and responsibilities as taxpayers. The LITC concentrates its outreach activities to D/HH individuals, human services agencies and organizations that serve D/HH individuals, and community events. The LITC offers workshops on substantive tax information like EITC and IRS collections process. For D/HH individuals who may need legal representation to resolve their tax problems, VLSP will screen for eligibility based on income/assets and case merit.
Micro-Entrepreneur Program Clinic
Micro-entrepreneur Pro Bono Project (MPBP) provides pro bono (free) legal assistance to low-income individuals who wish to start or develop businesses in economically distressed neighborhoods, through representation by transactional attorneys. Clients who generally would not have access to specialized legal services will be matched with transactional attorneys. Micro-enterprise development is a community economic development and antipoverty tool designed to create jobs, promote economic growth, increase social stability and generally assist low-income individuals who desire to improve their own economic well being. MPBP provides pro bono legal assistance to entrepreneurs on issues including, but not limited to: choice of entity, contracts, licenses or permits, intellectual property, taxes, insurances, bonds and other issues that may threaten the business, such as immigration, employment, and consumer problems. Small business owners and micro-entrepreneurs are eligible for pro bono legal assistance if the business is located in Monroe County and he or she meets our eligibility guidelines, including income eligibility. The following procedures are taken once an application has been submitted by a potential client:
- The applicant will be notified to schedule an intake meeting or informed that the business is not eligible.
- If the application is approved by VLSP's Executive Director, MPBP will contact the law firm liaison who notifies the firms’ volunteer attorneys.
- The law firm who accepts the client holds an initial meeting between the client and the attorney to discuss the client's particular legal issue.
- The law firm handles the representation of the client for the discrete business law matter identified at the initial meeting.