In honor of October being Pro Bono Month, Harford County Bar Foundation has announced the establishment of three free community resources.
“The Heart of Justice: Just Advice Clinic at the Village of Lakeview” is a brief advice clinic that will launch Friday, October 30. The clinic will be open two times a month, on the second and fourth Fridays, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Village of Lakeview Community Center, 833 Fisherman’s Lane in Edgewood.
Staffed by Harford County Bar Foundation volunteer attorneys who will be on site or available via Skype, the brief advice clinic will provide a variety of services including legal advice, assistance in filling out forms and contacting other support agencies on behalf of the client. Residents can drop in or make an appointment in advance by calling the Harford County Bar Foundation at 410-836-0123.
“The Heart of Justice: Just Advice Clinic at the Village of Lakeview” is funded by a $6,800 grant from the Southern Harford County Rotary. Harford County Bar Foundation is one of two recipients of the proceeds raised by the organization’s 5th Annual Snow Ball in January 2016.
Harford County Bar Foundation has been working with Angela Peaker, director of the Village of Lakeview Neighborhood Community Center, to address barriers to justice in the community.
“The clients we serve are extremely low income, undereducated, suffer from low self-esteem, are often abused, have untreated mental health issues and lack access to justice, advocacy and support,” Peaker said. “In addition, the lack of transportation to the Pro Se Desk, Legal Aid and other organizations in the county that provide legal services magnifies the issue and hampers the residents’ ability to navigate the tangled legal system, understand what resources are available for help and develop the necessary tools and strategies for success. The establishment of ‘The Heart of Justice: Just Advice Clinic’ is a very welcome resource for our community.”
The second new resource being offered by the Harford County Bar Foundation is “The Heart of Justice: Lawyer in the Lobby.” Starting on Tuesday, October 27, from noon to 1 p.m. and every Tuesday as the program expands, a volunteer attorney will meet with three or four Pro Se litigants on Level A of the Harford County Courthouse at 20 West Courtland Street for 15-20 minutes to provide legal advice. An appointment should be made in advance by calling the Harford County Bar Foundation at 410-836-0123.
Statistics for the Self-Help Center at the courthouse show a significant rise in walk-ins and emergency calls over the past year. In September 2014, there were 511 walk-ins; in August 2015, there were 580. The number of phone call inquiries more than doubled over the past year, with 62 calls in September 2014 and 170 in August 2015.
The third new resource, called “Decisions that Determine Your Destiny,” is being offered with the Harford County Office on Aging. The program is designed to empower seniors and their families to take charge of important life planning tools. The program kicks off on Wednesday, November 4, at 12:30 p.m. at the McFaul Activities Center, 525 West MacPhail Road in Bel Air, and the topic will be wills and advanced directives.
A follow-up clinic on Wednesday, December 2, from 1 to 3 p.m., at the McFaul Activities Center will allow seniors to meet with an attorney to have advanced directives written and notarized on the spot. Those interested in participating should sign up for a 20-minute mini-appointment by calling the Harford County Bar Foundation at 410-836-0123.
“The Harford County Bar Foundation is committed to providing advocacy and education to help those navigating the legal system,” said Nancy Mahoney, executive director of the Harford County Bar Foundation. “We are grateful for the support of the Southern Harford County Rotary and Harford County Office on Aging in helping us make new resources available to those who most need them in our community.”
The Harford County Bar Foundation, moving on October 15 to new offices at 17 West Courtland Street, Suite 130, in Bel Air, was established in 1991 to increase pro bono services and to provide educational resources to low-income individuals in need of legal assistance in family law, housing, bankruptcy, consumer, foreclosure, and estates and trust.
For more information, visit www.harfordcountybarfoundation.org.