Chattanooga Legal Community To Increase Efforts To Meet Underserved's Legal Needs

Monday, February 5, 2018

An estimated one million Tennesseans face some type of civil legal issue each year; one in three people go without professional legal assistance, because they are unable to afford a lawyer or qualify for low-income assistance.  Others may simply not recognize they have a legal issue that requires the help of an attorney.  Last year Legal Aid of East Tennessee formed new partnerships with other legal aid assistance groups in an effort to bridge the gap for those who can’t access legal assistance for a variety of civil legal issues.  Area places of worship have been the focus of those efforts.  

In 2017, Legal Aid of East Tennessee, Tennessee Faith and Justice Alliance, Christian Legal Society, and Chattanooga Gospel Justice Initiative hosted more than 10 legal aid clinics in churches around the Chattanooga area including: White Oak United Methodist Church in Red Bank, Jones Memorial United Methodist Church in East Ridge, South Soddy Baptist Church in Soddy Daisy, the Chattanooga Community Kitchen, and the Samaritan Center in Ooltewah.  More such partnerships are in the works. The Southeast Tennessee Veterans Coalition has joined in these efforts in order to reach more military veterans with legal and other needs.  A full slate of additional clinics is planned for 2018, including a clinic specifically for veterans.  Another clinic will offer specific help and assistance to individuals looking for legal assistance in starting a small business.  The current dates of those events are as follows: 

Feb. 8 - Small Business Start-Up Workshop 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. (Part 1 of 2)
White Oak United Methodist Church, 2232 Lyndon Ave.
Chattanooga, Tennessee 37415 

Feb. 15 - Small Business Start-Up Workshop 5-7 p.m. (Part 2 of 2)
White Oak United Methodist Church, 2232 Lyndon Ave.
Chattanooga, Tennessee 37415 

Feb. 17 - GJI Advanced Health Care Directives Breakfast 9 a.m.-12 p.m. 
White Oak United Methodist Church, 2232 Lyndon Ave.
Chattanooga, TN 37415 

Feb. 19 - Military Veteran’s Legal Aid Partnership Clinic – 1-4:30 p.m.
Family Justice Center at Eastgate
5705 Uptain Road, Chattanooga, Tennessee 37411 

March 6 - Partnership Legal Aid Clinic – 1-3 p.m.
Samaritan Center of Ooltewah
Lee Highway, Ooltewah, Tennessee 37363 

March 7 - Partnership Legal Aid Clinic – 5-7 p.m.
Location TBD

March 17 - GJI Office Hour Clinic – 9 a.m.- 12 p.m.
White Oak United Methodist Church
2232 Lyndon Avenue, Chattanooga, TN 37415
Appointments are recommended and can be made by visiting the Gospel Justice Initiative website at www.gji.org/chattanooga 

April 5 - Partnership Legal Aid Clinic – 5-7 p.m. 
Jones Memorial United Methodist Church
Rossville Blvd, East Ridge, Tennessee 

April 21 - GJI Office Hour Clinic – 9 a.m.-12 p.m. 
White Oak United Methodist Church
2232 Lyndon Avenue, Chattanooga, TN 37415
Appointments are recommended and can be made by visiting the Gospel Justice Initiative website at www.gji.org/chattanooga 

The clinics are open to anyone with a civil legal issue or question who can’t otherwise afford an attorney.  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. 

Improving equal access to justice was declared a priority by the Tennessee Supreme Court, and the Access to Justice Commission was formed in 2009 in an effort to expand equal access to justice across the state.  The Access to Justice Commission created the Tennessee 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. 

Attendees 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 $30 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.  More information about the Chattanooga Gospel Justice Initiative and information about registering for events can be found on the website www.gji.org/chattanooga

For more information about these events 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 521-5410 or email at Chattanooga@gji.org.  More information on Gospel Justice Initiative is available at www.gji.org/chattanooga.



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