Monday, February 04, 2013

Volunteer Attorneys Available to Provide Free Legal Advice to Self- Represented Litigants in Local Courts

Thanks to the efforts of the Birmingham Volunteer Lawyers Program (BVLP), Jefferson County citizens who are attempting to represent themselves in either the county’s District or Domestic Relations Courts can receive free advice from experienced attorneys. Known as “Attorney for the Day,” it is a pro bono service that seeks to make the court process a little bit easier to navigate for those who cannot afford to pay for a lawyer. Although all courts try to make the justice system accessible to the general public, they still use very technical legal language in the conduct of their affairs and still require plaintiffs and defendants to follow very complicated procedures. Having an experienced attorney available to provide assistance to self-represented litigants can help overcome these bureaucratic roadblocks and thereby make the justice system run much more effectively for citizens and much more efficiently for court officials.

The local attorneys who staff the BVLP’s help desks at the District and Domestic Relations Courts can provide advice on various legal matters including explanation of court rules and procedures, preparation and filing of court forms, and planning for your court appearance. Please remember, however, that the assistance given by the volunteer attorneys is done on a pro bono basis and should not be expected to go beyond the help desk setting.

The Attorney for the Day program is offered on a first come, first served basis and does not require an appointment. Those interested in the service can simply come to the help desks at the following locations, days and times:

Jefferson County District Court Help Desk
Jefferson County Courthouse, Room 540
716 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd., Birmingham, AL 35203
Mondays and Thursdays, 8:30 a.m. to 12  p.m.

Jefferson County Domestic Relations Court Help Desk,
Domestic Relations Building, ground floor
2124 Seventh Avenue North., Birmingham, AL 35203
Wednesdays, 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

For further information about the Attorney for the Day program, please contact the BVLP at 250-5198.

The Birmingham Volunteers Lawyers Program was created in 1995 by the Birmingham Bar Association and Legal Services Alabama to provide local attorneys with a more effective means of designing and delivering pro bono services. More information about the activities of the BVLP can be found on their website.

For those wishing to research legal questions and concerns on their own, the Birmingham Public Library is a good place to start. Although library staff cannot offer legal advice, they can help you locate information on a variety of legal issues. The library’s Legal Self Help Subject Guide provides a useful compilation of resources with which to begin your research.

Jim Murray
Business, Science and Technology/Social Sciences Department
Central Library

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