Vermonters face broad and substantial unmet civil legal needs. These needs are present across the entire spectrum of civil legal subject areas — including family law, housing, healthcare, public benefits, debt and more. This statewide study reviewed a broad range of objective and subjective data to determine the most persistent areas of unmet civil legal need in the state. Follow this link to read the report.
The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announced on October 10, 2019, that Legal Services Vermont will receive a $152,266 Technology Initiative Grant to improve its use of technology in assisting low-income individuals with civil legal needs.
Legal Services Vermont will use the grant to create more online content for self-represented litigants at VTLawHelp.org. The organization will add tutorials for high-demand legal issues, including temporary restraining orders in domestic violence cases. The expanded library of online tutorials will feature a series of instructional videos informing viewers how to fill out court forms or initiate certain legal actions.
“LSC’s Technology Initiative Grants increase access to justice for low-income people with critical civil legal needs,” said LSC President Jim Sandman. “These technology projects improve the delivery of legal services and information to the millions of Americans who would otherwise have to navigate the legal system alone.”
Senator Patrick Leahy congratulated Legal Services Vermont on the award. “Fundamental fairness and justice require that access to legal services should not be limited only to those who can afford a lawyer,” Sen. Leahy said. “This grant will support the critical work of Legal Services Vermont, whose website alone connects thousands of low-income Vermonters to the information they need when faced with civil legal challenges. As Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I am proud to support the work of Legal Services Corporation as they help those in need navigate our justice system.”
Legal Services Vermont is one of 30 recipients of LSC’s 2019 Technology Initiative Grant funding. Established in 2000, the Technology Initiative Grants program supports legal aid organizations in developing and replicating technologies that improve efficiency and provide greater access to high-quality legal assistance.
Legal Services Vermont and Vermont Legal Aid want to meet with you. The nonprofit law firms want to know more about the civil legal problems facing low-income and vulnerable Vermonters. They are holding seven meetings around the state to hear from Vermonters, their community partners and supporters.
“We want to hear from as wide a cross section of Vermonters as possible. Everyone is encouraged to participate in this process,” said Sam Abel-Palmer, Executive Director of Legal Services Vermont.
“Civil” legal problems are any legal issues that are not criminal in nature. However, the organizations do help with the legal problems of crime victims. Also, the organizations help people with expunging and sealing past criminal records.
Staff from Vermont Legal Aid and Legal Services Vermont will be at the public meetings. They will use the information gathered to help decide where to put their legal aid resources. It’s part of a statewide legal needs assessment process the organizations will use to provide civil legal help where it’s needed most. The organizations work together to help thousands of Vermonters around the state each year.
Here’s the schedule of public meetings. No registration is needed and light refreshments will be provided.
Wednesday, October 23, 1:00-2:30 p.m.
Goodrich Library, 202 Main St., Newport
Monday, October 28, 1:00-2:30 p.m.
Community College of Vermont (CCV), 142 S. Main St., St. Albans
Wednesday, October 30, 1:00-2:30 p.m.
Community College of Vermont (CCV), Room 152, 324 Main St., Bennington
Wednesday, October 30, 5:30-7:00 p.m.
Community College of Vermont (CCV), Room 102, 60 West St., Rutland
Monday, November 4, 1:00-2:30 p.m.
Community College of Vermont (CCV), Room 271, 41 Harmony Place, Brattleboro
Tuesday, November 5, 2:00-3:30 p.m.
Bethany UCC Church, 115 Main St., Montpelier
Tuesday, November 5, 7:00-8:30 p.m.
Legal Services Vermont, 274 N. Winooski Ave., Burlington
Please note: Visitors to Community College of Vermont should stop at the main desk for a visitor’s badge.
Legal Services Vermont (LSV) recently released annual numbers that show our growing impact around the state. We offer a number of ways for Vermonters to access civil legal help and we offer our services for free.
In the last year:our legal help hotline phone rang 23,781 times we received about 1,500 online requests for legal help at VTLawHelp.org about 15,000 times we provided quick legal advice or referrals to appropriate organizations we gave direct legal help to Vermonters in nearly 1,300 cases we opened more than 600 cases for seniors with legal needs we opened 500 cases for victims of crime who had legal problems we helped nearly 300 Vermonters facing eviction at our in-court eviction clinics we referred 150 cases to private attorneys for free legal assistance more than 100,000 individual users accessed information on our legal help website at VTLawHelp.org we did this work with a dedicated staff of 11 people and committed volunteer attorneys.
On any given day, LSV’s 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.
We provide support to low-income Vermonters who have legal cases that meet priorities that are set each year. The priorities help us decide how we will use our resources to help as many Vermonters as possible. LSV also provides screening and referrals to its sister organization, Vermont Legal Aid, as well as many other organizations. LSV is funded by the Legal Services Corporation.
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.
November 6, 2019
The Vermont Bar Foundation commissioned a study with a grant from the Vermont Supreme Court in the fall of 2018. It is the first of its kind in Vermont. It analyzes and quantifies the impact that low-income legal services have on the Vermont economy.
Following a nine-month study process, members of the Vermont Access to Justice Coalition worked with Dr. Ken Smith of the Resource for Great Programs to develop a report showing the substantial benefits that low-income legal services unlock in the Vermont economy.
Whether obtaining federal services and benefits for Vermonters or bringing stability to at-risk families, low-income legal services ensure that fewer taxpayer dollars are spent. These services also ensure all Vermonters have true access to legal remedies and rights, regardless of their economic status.Press release on VT Digger Vermont Public Radio VT Digger commentary Other Paper commentary Support Our Work Donate to Legal Services Vermont Read About Our Impact LSV by the Numbers