Sirens & Gavels

Economy spurs need for free legal aid

The sagging local economy has flooded local courts with people in financial trouble who can’t pay for what could help them most: an attorney to guide them.

Only a few local programs exist to help people who need lawyers, a need that has far outstripped the programs’ ability to find lawyers willing to work for little or no pay. As a result, court dockets are clogged with people trying – and failing – to wade through a complicated system of hearings and paperwork without legal help.

“It’s a pretty grim picture out there if you need a lawyer and can’t afford one,” said Al McNeil, an associate professor with University Legal Assistance, which provides free or low-cost legal services to low-income Spokane County residents and just celebrated its 35-year anniversary at Gonzaga University School of Law.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.




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