Local Lawyers Proving Pro Bono Legal Aid Assistance In Churches

Monday, August 14, 2017

One month after its official launch, a new legal aid partnership has expanded its reach across Chattanooga. Voluntary pro bono attorneys are offering assistance to the poor and working poor on a wide variety of civil legal issues. Many of these individuals would otherwise go without legal assistance. 

Legal Aid of East Tennessee, Tennessee Faith and Justice Alliance, Christian Legal Society and Chattanooga Gospel Justice Initiative are among those working together on a new effort to expand Access to Justice in Chattanooga through area places of worship. New pro bono legal assistance is now being offered at White Oak United Methodist Church in Red Bank, South Soddy Baptist Church in Soddy Daisy and the Samaritan Center in Ooltewah.  More such partnerships are in the works.

The following events are currently scheduled:

Aug. 28, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Legal Aid Clinic
South Soddy Daisy Baptist Church Legal Aid Clinic, 11055 Dayton Pike,
Soddy Daisy

Sept. 12, 2017 1-3 p.m.
Legal Aid Clinic
Samaritan Center, Lee Highway, Ooltewah

Sept. 16, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
Gospel Justice Initiative Legal Assistance Office Hours
White Oak United Methodist Church, 2232 Lyndon Avenue, Chattanooga 

Sept. 22, 1 p.m.
TN Faith and Justice Alliance Pastoral and Church Leadership Training
Location - TBD 

The Tennessee Supreme Court formed the Access to Justice Commission in 2009, in an effort to expand access to justice across the state. Improving access to justice was declared a priority in Tennessee. An estimated 1 million Tennesseans face some type of civil legal issue each year and are unable to afford legal representation, qualify for low-income assistance, or simply don’t recognize that they have a legal issue that requires the help of an attorney. The Access to Justice Commission created Faith and Justice Alliance on the premise that many individuals with legal issues will first seek assistance at their local houses of worship.

The TFJA offers training of local pastoral leadership to bridge the legal gap and build better legal referral networks. The Chattanooga House of Prayer will also be available at the event to offer prayer support and encouragement for participants. 

The clinics are open to anyone with a civil legal issue or question. People interested are advised to call in advance so that attorneys with an expertise in the specific area of concern can be available to assist. 

Each attendee will be screened to determine if they are eligible for Legal Aid of East Tennessee. If they are eligible for LAET there is no charge. If they are not eligible for LAET, a $20 administrative fee will be charged through the Chattanooga Gospel Justice Initiative, but no other fees will be required to consult with an attorney. A receipt will be provided for administrative fees paid and those monies go to support Gospel Justice Initiative efforts here in Chattanooga. Walk-ins are also welcome, but will be served on a first-come basis. 

For more information about this event or the partnership, please contact Paige Evatt, Pro Bono Director at Legal Aid of East Tennessee at 402-4758 or email at pevatt@laet.org. You can also reach Nancy Cogar with the Chattanooga Gospel Justice Initiative at 870-2125 or email at Chattanooga@gji.org. More information on Gospel Justice Initiative is available at www.gji.org/chattanooga.

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