In response to the economic downturn, a group of legal departments and a law firm are collaborating to support a New Jersey Volunteer Lawyers for Justice project dedicated to tackling issues facing consumer debtors. Lawyers from Prudential, AT&T**, Merck** and McCarter & English LLP* banded together to form Newark Legal Aid and Resource Clinic for Consumers (NLARCC), which provides legal assistance to an ever-increasing number of self-represented consumer debtors. Together, the group of lawyers has significantly increased capacity to address the uptick in consumer legal issues.
The N.J. court system has been inundated with consumer-related cases, and the work of volunteer attorneys has helped to ameliorate some of the burden. Clinics are held at the Essex County Superior Court three times each month. The NLARCC is an innovative, inspiring example of different segments of the legal profession collaborating to proactively and meaningfully respond to an emerging and critical legal need.
Volunteer lawyers receive training on the state statutes governing basic consumer rights and then use that information to address a wide range of concerns, including:
- law suits by creditors or debt collectors to recover alleged debts;
- credit report issues and discrepancies;
- garnishment of wages;
- harassing calls and letters on debts; and
- frozen bank accounts, among others.
Legal guidance provided by the lawyers regarding debtors’ rights and obligations can be life-changing for the many clients served.
We at The PBEye are so happy to see all sorts of collaborative pro bono efforts becoming increasingly popular. Be sure to stay tuned as CPBO will be showcasing another great partnership with its Partner Award at the Annual Dinner in November.
Do you know of any collaborative pro bono efforts? If so, why not share them below . . .
*denotes a Signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®
**denotes a Signatory to the Corporate Pro Bono ChallengeSM