This article was written by Sarah G. Kieny, Shareholder at Riggs Abney Neal Turpen Orbison & Lewis PC and originally appeared on GLSA.

The most recent Legal Services Corporation report, The Justice Gap: Measuring the Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Low-Income Americans, found that not only do low-income American citizens receive inadequate or no legal help for 86% of their civil legal problems but over 71% of these households had at least one civil legal problem in the past year.

Colorado’s LegalShield Provider Firm, Riggs, Abney, Neal, Turpen, Orbison and Lewis, PC, launched a program in May of 2017 – “Law Night”.  The program was created with the idea that low income Denver residents should have reasonable access to legal assistance.  We began with a nonprofit called Warren Village and have expanded to another local organization.

Warren Village was created to help low income single parent families achieve personal and economic self-sufficiency—and sustain it. Single parents living at Warren Village are dedicated to improving their lives and creating a better future for their children and themselves. Warren Village’s comprehensive program is designed to get their clients on solid footing so that when they leave the program they’re ready to create sustainable stability for themselves and their families. Parents must complete a rigorous program that includes working or attending school full-time, attending life skills classes and volunteering.  Living at Warren Village is not a handout. It is a hand up. 

At the start of 2017 Warren Village launched Wellness Initiative focusing on all aspects of healthy living as a way to transition to long-term self-sufficiency – physical, psychological, social and financial. We decided to offer a further layer of wellness – legal health.

Our first law night in May was successful with seven volunteer attorneys from our law firm servicing and consulting with six residents.  We counseled on matters regarding immigration, consumer finance and family law.  The residents were very thankful for the opportunity to speak to skilled and compassionate attorneys at no cost.

After our inaugural event, our team regrouped to discuss how we could better our service.  The most resounding theme was technology.  During the first night, we used our cell phones to locating self-help websites, forms and other resources to help the residents.  We determine that at our next law night (currently set for August 17th) we would all bring our laptops, gain access to Warren Village’s Wi-Fi and connect to  printers to provide documentation or forms, as well as memorialize links to  websites, as we consult and provide legal direction. We also offer residents how to access helpful information using their smart phones.

Upon further reflection, and with great enthusiasm from our volunteer attorneys, we also decided to expand our outreach. We contacted an inner-city public school whose families are predominately minority and low-income.  It is the first and only all-girls public school in the state of Colorado – The Girls Athletic Leadership School.  We proposed a similar law night for students’ families.  Our offer was met with great enthusiasm from the school administration who understand the legal challenges – primarily immigration based – facing many families in this school.

We intend to continue to use simple technology tools in different capacities as they becomes available in the delivery of legal assistance to help further support these local communities.

As a LegalShield provider firm whose primary goal is to consult individuals on their legal matters, all day every day, I was deeply pleased to learn find that our volunteer attorneys were eager to step up after regular work hours to help.

If you are in Denver on October 26, 2017, I will be doing a five-minute Darwin Talk at an evening Evolve Law event.  You can register here for the event. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you are interested in launching Law Night in your community at (303) 298 7392 or sarah_kieny@riggsabney.com.

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a LegalShield referral attorney in Colorado, feel free to contact me using the same contact information above.

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