News Release

For Immediate Release

FREE LEGAL CLINICS PROVIDE RELIEF
AS COURT CUTS AND ECONOMIC CRISIS THREATEN ACCESS TO JUSTICE

Volunteer Attorneys Help Contra Costa Residents Tackle Legal Challenges, from Bankruptcy and Landlord-Tenant Disputes to Immigration and Family Law issues.

MARTINEZ, CALIFORNIA, August 26, 2011 — Millions of dollars in cuts to the California Judiciary have lefts courts struggling to do more with less. Longer lines and shorter hours at the filing window are just some of the inconveniences self-represented litigants face. At the same time, hiring a private attorney is increasingly out of reach for many Contra Costa residents as the financial crisis lingers, draining savings accounts and available credit.

In this economic climate, where can a person facing bankruptcy turn for advice? Where can an immigrant find help filling out the forms required to apply for a work permit or residency? Who can offer objective counsel in emotionally charged family law matters, such as custody disputes and other divorce issues?

As stretched resources threaten to undermine vital access to justice, the free legal clinics offered by the Contra Costa County Bar Association (CCCBA) can provide relief and guidance.

Since 2003, the CCCBA has offered legal guidance to Contra Costa residents in the form of free legal workshops. These workshops can help members of the public handle their own legal problems more efficiently. Topics include Bankruptcy, Immigration, Family Law, Powers of Attorney/Advanced Health Care Directives, Landlord/Tenant and more.

Some workshops involve a short presentation followed by a Q & A session, while others allow individuals to meet privately with an attorney for 15-20 minutes to discuss their legal issue. Attorneys answer questions and give guidance about options, risks, benefits and potential next steps. Many of the workshops offer services in both English and Spanish.

Sponsored by CCCBA's Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS), there is no charge to attendees as attorneys volunteer their time. "My client really felt supported and understood, which was wonderful, as she is facing a very difficult issue and was despairing. I am very glad that events like this are offered. Lots of people need help and this is a huge step in the right direction," reflected a counselor who attended an immigration workshop with her client.

Volunteer attorneys do not look to gain clientele from these workshops - indeed, anyone seeking a referral to an attorney for further help is directed to the LRIS. Local public libraries and educational institutions (such as JFKU) offer a free, easily accessible venue for these workshops, providing residents who would not otherwise have benefit of a legal professional, a new forum for justice.

In addition to the many ongoing free legal workshops, the CCCBA is also pleased to announce a new free Bankruptcy clinic in West County. Please refer to posted workshop listings to find out more about this new clinic as well as workshops offered in September. To receive monthly updates on free legal workshops, contact Theresa Hurley at thurley@cccba.org or (925) 370-2548. You may also visit the CCCBA website for a complete calendar of workshops, at www.cccba.org/community.

The Contra Costa County Bar Association (CCCBA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to offering support in matters of the law, the legal community and the judicial system. Trusted since 1934, the CCCBA serves thousands of legal professionals and members of the community each year.

Contact Theresa Hurley
(925) 370-2548

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