Lawyers Offer Free Assistance to Underserved During Pandemic

Several nonprofit organizations and law firms are offering an array of free legal services, from estate planning to business reopening guidance, for those in need.

Ashley Lowe, chief executive officer of Lakeshore Legal Aid, said while their 14 brick-and-mortar offices in southeast Michigan are closed, clients can still apply for services on their website and the telephone hotline is fully staffed.

Lowe said initially, many of the calls they received were from workers who were suddenly no longer working, and they currently need attorneys with expertise in bankruptcy.

“We’re getting a lot of calls about unemployment benefits; we’ve been working closely with the (unemployment) agency to make sure we have the most up-to-date information and can help people process their applications.”

Other clients have called asking for help with evictions and domestic violence, Lowe noted.

Meanwhile, Michigan Community Resources (MCR) is providing free legal help with pandemic issues and recently opened the COVID-19 Virtual Legal Clinic. MCR is part of a growing coalition of 34 law firms in 30 cities that will staff the online legal clinics. 

Maureen Krasner, MCR senior program manager, said they can offer nonprofits and small businesses the opportunity to receive pro bono legal support they may not otherwise be able to afford. 

“Small businesses and nonprofits are struggling to navigate the economic and legal impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. Support from volunteer attorneys in equipping these organizations and businesses with tools they need to address these concerns will be critical to bringing much-needed resources to our Detroit communities,” Krasner said.

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