Family Violence Project | Education and Outreach to the Latino Community
Community Economic Development |
Elder Rights Projects
HIV/AIDS Project | Benefits Hotline for Seniors and People with Disabilities
Emergency Disaster Assistance | State Bar Pro Bono Project
Technology | www.legalaid-GA.org | www.georgiaadvocates.org
Family Violence Project
We save lives of those in danger of abuse by their spouses, partners, or even their own children. More than 25,000 victims of domestic violence have been helped in the past 15 years by this project. GLSP attorneys and paralegals help clients obtain protective orders against abusive spouses, child support orders, unemployment benefits, health and mental health care, food aid, schooling for children and more. In the 12 months prior to March, 2012, GLSP attorneys helped survivors recover $2.4 million in child support, property awards, and the value of joint debts allocated to the batterer. The work is funded by an annual grant from the Administrative Office of the Courts grants from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Our attorneys are also involved in rural areas addressing teen dating violence and stalking. They collaborate with and hold trainings for faith communities, law enforcement and the courts to assist victims and hold abusers accountable for their actions.
GLSP attorneys also have developed online interactive forms that can be filed in court to obtain protective orders, child support and more without the assistance of an attorney. They have also helped to develop a “bench book” which is used across the state by courts to encourage best practices in handling domestic violence cases. (CLICK HERE to read more about Vicky Kimbrell, Family Violence Project coordinator.)
Education and Outreach to the Latino Community
We’re working to break down language and cultural barriers to courts and government agencies faced by Limited English Proficiency clients, most of whom speak Spanish. LEP victims of domestic violence, for example, are often reluctant to seek legal protections because they don’t understand the process or the benefits a protective order can provide. Many clients speak some English, but are not proficient enough to handle legal matters, or, for example, an appeal of the denial of unemployment benefits. We have ten bi-lingual attorneys and two bi-lingual paralegals to provide legal services to LEP clients in rural Georgia where there are few bilingual private attorneys. Spanish-speaking attorneys are located in Albany, Dalton, Gainesville, Macon, Piedmont, and Savannah. The paralegals staff our Spanish Intake line, screening prospective clients in their native language and with sensitivity to their cultural experiences and norms. We have translated our informational brochures as well as our representation agreement and other key documents. A generous foundation grant supports a significant part of this work.
CLICK HERE for more information about the Latino Outreach and Education Initiative
(CLICK HERE to contact Lisa Krisher, coordinator of the Spanish Intake Program)
Community Economic Development
Sometimes community improvement projects originate at the grassroots level with a group of people who decide to step up and do the work. GLSP offers help with the organizational structure, operation, planning, and collaborations that helps these projects succeed. Our Community Economic Development (CED) attorneys provide legal assistance to grassroots community-based organizations throughout Georgia working for development of affordable housing, job training programs, green jobs, microenterprise ventures, youth programs, after-school programs, neighborhood enhancement, cultural preservation, and more. Our attorneys collaborate with the State Bar Pro Bono Project to recruit private transactions attorneys to provide specialized assistance related to tax, employment, organizational development, finance, and other issues. This work is funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and occasional private foundation grants. (CLICK HERE to contact Homero Leon, coordinator for the CED project)
Elder Rights Projects
Seniors have unique legal needs and unique problems getting legal assistance and other benefits. We reach out to seniors throughout our service area and offer legal services to address high stakes problems, such as access to health care, abuse and exploitation, securing essential benefits such as Medicare and food stamps, preparation of wills to protect home places, advanced directives for peace of mind, relief from home repair and other consumer scams, and more. Funded by grants from the State Office of Aging under the federal Older Americans Act, and located in several GLSP regional offices, these projects also provide information to senior citizens about their legal rights and how to avoid potential legal problems.
Our Savannah and Columbus offices have special elder abuse projects funded by the U.S. Department of Justice through the Georgia Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. Three of our offices house staff from the Georgia Long-Term Care Ombudsman program who regularly visit area nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to monitor conditions and investigate complaints.
For more information, please call GLSP attorney Robert Bush, (912) 651-2180, ex 2760.
Funded with an annual grant through the Central City AIDS Network, attorney Amanda Smith goes weekly to the Diversity House/Rainbow Center, which is a transitional housing facility for persons living with HIV/AIDS. She also attends clinic hours at the Hope Center, a branch of the local health department that focuses specifically on treating HIV/AIDS. GLSP attorneys provide the full range of legal services to these clients, such as help with issues relating to Social Security benefits, and other health planning type objectives, like powers of attorney and advance directives, as well as family law and housing issues.
For more information, please call our Macon regional office at (478) 751-6261.
Benefits Hotline for Seniors and People with Disabilities
Seniors and people with disabilities are among the most vulnerable citizens of Georgia. Through a grant from the National Council on Aging, GLSP has set up a hotline to help this vulnerable population apply for and keep benefits such as food stamps, Medicaid, Medicare Savings Programs, extra help with prescription drug costs and Energy Assistance. The program is being carried out with help from community partners all over the state.
The state Department of Human Services has pledged to use our findings to reorganize its application and re-certification systems to make them easier to navigate for clients. The HOTLINE number is 1 (888) 632-6332.
Victims of disasters such as tornadoes, floods, or hurricanes have special needs and unique legal rights and remedies. Victims may be eligible for emergency housing, disaster unemployment, disaster food stamps, as well as financial aid from the U. S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). For almost two decades we have been on call with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) to respond quickly in the face of disasters, helping to staff Disaster Recovery Centers along with agencies such as the Red Cross and FEMA. We partner with the State Bar Younger Lawyers Division to staff an emergency hotline helping victims with critical legal needs by providing legal advice and counsel, referrals, and direct representation. Our disaster law online support library, available to volunteer lawyers, is found on our volunteer lawyer support website, GeorgiaAdvocates.org. Join today!
State Bar Pro Bono Project
GLSP partners with the State Bar of Georgia to support the Pro Bono Project which provides technical assistance and resources to GLSP offices across the state helping them to place client cases with private attorneys on a pro bono or reduced fee basis. The Project supports collaborations between GLSP offices and local bar associations as well as State Bar Sections, such as Real Property and General Practice and Trial Law, in developing special projects to meet local needs or interests.
The Project develops special training and recruits volunteers for emerging needs, and currently partners with the State Bar’s Military Legal Assistance Project. The project helps coordinate staff and volunteer response to natural disasters. Promoting innovative use of technology to recruit and support volunteers has been a highlight of the Project. The Project Director is the principal staff person for www.georgiaadvocates.org, our nationally-recognized statewide volunteer lawyer support website.
(CLICK HERE to contact Mike Monahan, Pro Bono Project director)
GLSP seeks to maintain a level of technological proficiency that enables staff to work efficiently and effectively, to communicate with others and access resources on the Internet, and to maintain records and data for management, evaluation, and planning purposes. Technology is also put to full use in accounting and personnel functions. GLSP offices are linked via a Wide Area Network and a VOIP telephone system. Case management is supported by Legal Server, a statewide web-based application that allows real-time conflicts checking, online supervision and support, and up-to-date case services reporting and grant monitoring.
GLSP, the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, and other public interest legal organizations collaborate to support this website that contains information and resources for the public. Information is available for speakers of Spanish and many other languages. The site receives hundreds of thousands of page views per year and thousands of downloads of forms, instruction, and other information. Recent enhancements include the ability to “communicate” with GLSP’s new Case Management System to allow staff to easily access resources for clients from this website.
GLSP and the State Bar Pro Bono Project support this website as a resource for GLSP staff as well as attorneys who sign up to take cases on a volunteer or reduced fee basis. The site includes extensive resources on topics of poverty and other law, links to other information, news, a calendar, and much more. Recent enhancements include the posting of videotaped training presentations for volunteer attorneys and the development of a “Live Help” feature which assists volunteers to find resources on the site. We have collaborated with several court-based legal information centers to develop podcasts for lay litigants.
A password-protected section of the site serves as GLSP’s “knowledge base” on which are posted extensive poverty law materials including in-house training materials, videos, and links to other resources. The site includes a Program activities calendar, administrative manuals and forms, LSC regulations, etc. We have several recent enhancements, including (1) the use of “wikis” as vehicles for knowledge-sharing and developing strategic solutions to common client problems across our many offices and large state, (2) the use of webcams to facilitate some meetings and interactions without the need for expensive travel, and (3) the initiation of our “Virtual Law Office” concept, by which staff are equipped with laptops and printers for remote service to clients and to promote productivity when staff have dead time at circuit riding sites. We are beginning to develop a Program-wide resource on SharePoint which will allow full document source and other tools to support collaboration and sharing of resources.