Great Lawyers Doing Great Things: The Power of Pro Bono In a Time of Need
Jim Guest, Managing Attorney of Legal Services of Eastern Missouri's Volunteer Lawyers program tells us "What's on his Mind."
Legal Services of Eastern Missouri (LSEM) is a nonprofit organization providing free civil legal assistance to individuals and families in eastern Missouri. Legal assistance is provided on important legal matters involving housing rights, domestic violence, consumer disputes, immigration, special education and guardianship matters to name just a few practice areas. The entire scope of LSEM’s work can be found at www.lsem.org.
Last year alone, LSEM provided assistance in 7,664 cases (affecting 21,051 individuals) in our region. This work was critical and made a lasting impact in the lives of those clients served – preserving essential housing, protecting victims of domestic violence (including children) and providing stability to families facing the devastating effects of poverty.
Unfortunately, these services did not meet the full need for assistance in our community; thousands of prospective clients were turned away due to a lack of resources necessary to help everyone in need. (National estimates are that only approximately 1 in 5 low income people obtain the real legal assistance they desperately need.)
While LSEM and its partners actively pursue new sources of funding to increase its resources, another effective means of meeting the increasing need for help is relying on the amazing network of volunteer lawyers willing to provide meaningful pro bono service to low-income clients in need.
LSEM’s active pro bono effort, the Volunteer Lawyers Program (VLP), partners with attorneys throughout the region to refer cases to volunteers who in turn provide legal representation on vital matters to clients who could never hope to afford an attorney. Last year, close to 500 cases were referred to volunteer attorneys, meaning that 500 clients who would have otherwise been turned away, instead received outstanding legal assistance in matters essential to the survival of families.
If you are interested in learning more about Legal Services of Eastern Missouri and the Volunteer Lawyers Program, please go to LSEM’s website at www.lsem.org.