Presentation on theme: "Welcome Welcome to the _________________ Library to celebrate Law Day 2013. We are here because Libraries are at the heart of our communities and Justice."— Presentation transcript:
Welcome Welcome to the _________________ Library to celebrate Law Day We are here because Libraries are at the heart of our communities and Justice is at the heart of our Democracy.
Introductions Attorney(s)/Librarian Why is a Lawyer in Your Local Library? To talk about: Access to Justice and why it is important to our communities. Legal resources that may be available to you in this community and in Maine How to find and choose a lawyer when you have a legal problem. General question and answer period for the group.
Q&A guidelines No individualized legal advice to anyone during the group session. Will answer general questions about legal issues, procedures and resources.
ONLY IF YOU ARE DOING INDIVIDUAL CONSULTS* this is up to the individual attorney) *After the general question and answer period available for a small number of short individual consults. Purpose of these 15 to 20 min individual meetings will be to help sort out what kind of legal problem you might have, and what your next steps or likely resources might be going forward. Unlikely to be able to meet with everyone who would like a consult, I will be using the sign-in sheet that you should have signed upon arrival, to determine a first come first serve list.
What is Law Day? Today, May 1, is Law Day. Law Day was established to reflect on and to recognize the importance of the rule of law for our society. Ensuring that every person has equal access to justice under those laws is fundamental to who we are as a people.
Access to Justice: True or False: If I have a legal problem and cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for me? Mostly False: This is only true in criminal cases where a person might be facing jail time and in a few other instances. In most cases the court does not appoint a lawyer if you cannot afford one.
Going it alone... Due to economic and/or geographic barriers, many people set off to navigate the often complex and confusing world of law by themselves. A single parent fighting for the right to spend time with a son, a veteran who has been denied benefits, or an elderly woman facing foreclosure because of a predatory lending mortgage she signed but never understood. None of these individuals have access to court appointed attorneys.
A Story Brian, a U.S. Army veteran from Somerset County, loses his job, falls behind on his mortgage and faces foreclosure. Without access to legal help, Brian becomes homeless, which makes it impossible to find regular work and so he has to rely on government assistance for the basics. Unable to navigate the Veterans Benefits System, Brian goes to the emergency room when he is injured or sick, but is unable to afford preventative care.
Brian got help... Fortunately, the real Brian qualified for help from Pine Tree Legal Assistance. Working with Veterans Affairs, Pine Tree helped Brian avoid foreclosure. He also got help accessing veterans benefits and he had the stability to go out and find a job. Brian didn’t need indefinite help. He needed a lawyer at the right time to help him get back on his feet.
The benefits Multiply this example by thousands, and you will see why access to the right legal resources saves. It saves jobs, homes, families, and it saves taxpayer dollars.
Do I Need an Attorney? Legal issues are often unexpected - and important You got rear-ended and the insurance company sent a check for not nearly enough to repair the car. What can you do? Your father died leaving an environmental nightmare at his metal plating business, and you are his heir. Where do you turn? Your sister wants you to tap your 401(k) and lend her the money for her new restaurant, Bunny’s Bistro. Is this a good idea, and how can you be sure you’ll be repaid?
Legal Resources How do I find a lawyer? Please pick up a copy of the resource handout. It will also be posted on our website at lawyersinlibraries.org.
Some of you may qualify for low-income legal services. How to qualify varies from program to program. You will see on the handout an overview of Maine legal services. If you think you qualify, call the program to see if they have the services and the resources to meet your needs. Low Income?
If you do not qualify for one of the legal aid programs, there are still resources. You can call the Lawyer Referral Service of the Maine State Bar Association. That is also on your sheet. Other Options
Online legal resources
How to pick a Lawyer: Get started soon – you will need time! A lawyer may need time to get together facts and documents and time to prepare your case. Some cases have time limits on when you can bring them to court or how long you have to reply. Many issues get worse the longer you ignore them.
Call the Lawyer Referral Service; They can help you determine what kind of attorney you should talk to, and select an appropriate attorney by cross-referencing several sub-categories of law and geography.
What happens when you first talk to a lawyer? Can a lawyer solve your problem in an hour? Hardly ever! It takes time for you to explain your situation, for the attorney to ask all the necessary questions, and for the attorney to consider and discuss your options.
How can you afford a lawyer? Legal Service Attorneys: Maybe you can’t. If you have a low income you should contact a legal service organization to see if you qualify for their services. Please see the Legal Resources Handout.
Private Attorneys Fees and costs for a private attorney are decided by each attorney on a case by case basis, according both to the nature of the case, and the caseload the attorney is working.
Limited Service Representation: Many attorneys offer what is called Limited Service Representation. This means they are helping you represent yourself. You and the attorney break down your legal needs, and decide who will do what. When you do your own work, you don’t pay the attorney. When the attorney does something, you pay for the work done.
Q&A Please remember that I cannot give individualized legal advice to anyone during this question and answer session, but I will be able to answer general questions about legal issues, procedures and resources.
Thank you! Again, please make sure that you signed in and that you fill out the evaluation forms and give them to the librarian.
More information? Your librarian has information on how to find more legal resources in your area. If you need more information or want to seek legal assistance, please go to HelpMElaw.org where you can search for legal information and legal resources in Maine and your county or town.