Burlington, VT — A nonprofit that provides free legal help to thousands of Vermonters each year has changed its name. Legal Services Law Line of Vermont, Inc. will now be called “Legal Services Vermont.”
“For most of our 22-year history, we have been known as ‘Law Line,’ but our work is much more than telephone-based legal advice,” said Executive Director Sam Abel-Palmer. Legal Services Vermont serves Vermonters through a statewide legal hotline, court-based eviction and debt clinics, web-based legal help, walk-in legal help services, support for people going to court on their own, pro bono referrals, and assistance for seniors and victims of crime.
“Our new name reflects our commitment to providing a wide range of legal help to Vermonters in need,” Abel-Palmer said.
Founded in 1996, Legal Services Vermont is the partner agency to Vermont Legal Aid. Together, Legal Services Vermont and Vermont Legal Aid help people around the state tackle civil legal issues – at no charge. Legal Services Vermont is Vermont’s statewide grantee of the federal Legal Services Corporation, which supports its work to provide civil legal services to low-income Vermonters. Support also comes in from other state and federal grants and donations.
Legal Services Vermont’s work focuses on the non-criminal legal issues that confront low-income Vermonters, especially landlord-tenant law, debt collection, bankruptcy, state and federal benefits, domestic violence, and legal issues facing seniors. On any given day, lawyers and paralegals might help someone get heat back on in their apartment or find emergency housing, help a senior reclaim their lost Social Security benefits, help a battered woman get protective orders from the court, or help a family navigate the eviction or bankruptcy process.
Any resident of Vermont with a civil legal issue can contact Legal Services Vermont’s statewide hotline at 800-889-2047 to see if they qualify for help. Our legal help website at VTLawHelp.org offers legal information and a way to apply for services.
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The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announced on August 2, 2018, that Legal Services Law Line of Vermont (now called Legal Services Vermont - LSV) will receive a $186,960 Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant. LSC’s Pro Bono Innovation Fund is intended to encourage and expand robust pro bono efforts and partnerships to serve more low-income clients. LSV is one of 15 grant recipients this year.
LSV will use the grant to expand its successful Pro Bono Eviction Clinic. Launched last year, the clinic has worked to help low-income clients avoid evictions by increasing the number of active pro bono attorneys available to help them. The program will use the grant to increase pro bono attorney recruitment and offer volunteer-led information and educational sessions to clients.
“We are grateful to Congress for establishing the Pro Bono Innovation Fund and for increasing funding by $500,000 this year,” said Jim Sandman, President of LSC. “These grants stimulate more volunteer participation by the private bar, leverage the federal investment in civil legal aid, and allow our grantees to reach more people in need of civil legal assistance.”
Members of the Vermont congressional delegation applauded the grant:
Senator Patrick Leahy: “People and their communities from coast to coast rely on LSC to provide accessible legal assistance so they can stay in their homes, keep their families together, and recover from predatory lenders and fraud. In Vermont, nearly 3,000 Vermonters — including veterans, the elderly, and victims of domestic violence — rely on LSC, and I’m proud that Congress, led by bipartisan support on the Appropriations Committee, has rejected President Trump’s repeated attempts to eliminate this vital program.”
Representative Peter Welch: “Every Vermonter has the right to legal representation, regardless of economic standing. This grant will allow Legal Law Line of Vermont to expand its important mission of providing pro bono legal representation to Vermonters facing eviction. For those who struggle to keep up with skyrocketing rent and mortgage payments, Legal Law Line of Vermont has offered candid, free legal consultation, community education, and justice. This $186,960 in additional funding will allow this excellent organization to expand education services, increase attorney recruitment, and serve more Vermonters in need.”
LSV is one of 15 recipients of grants from LSC’s $4.5 million Pro Bono Innovation Fund, a competitive program that invests in projects that identify and promote replicable innovations in pro bono for low-income legal aid clients. This is the fifth year LSC has awarded Pro Bono Innovation Fund grants.
Legal Services Law Line of Vermont (now called Legal Services Vermont - LSV) received a two-year Technology Initiative Grant from the Legal Services Corporation to make the VTLawHelp.org website more accessible. The grant’s main focus is to improve access for people who have disabilities and for people who use phones to access the website.
The project includes local website user testing and work with website accessibility experts. In conjunction with Atlanta Legal Aid Society, which is a partner on the accessibility project, LSV will also create a website accessibility manual. The manual will be shared with the national legal aid community.
LSC Technology Initiative Grants seek to improve legal services delivery to the low-income population. They aim to increase access by low-income persons to high-quality legal services, to the judicial system and to legal information.