Access to Lawyers for Low Income Coloradans

Posted By Matthew Clawson || 31-Oct-2014

Colorado Legal Services (CLS) assists low-income Colorado residents with civil law issues. (Defense of those facing criminal charges who cannot afford an attorney is provided through the Colorado Public Defender's office.) Civil cases include any kind of court matter that is not a criminal case. Divorce, child support, child custody, landlord-tenant issues are all "civil" law matters. Colorado Legal Services provides assistance with legal representation in civil law matters, as well as providing information to help low-income residents through the court system on their own. The CLS website provides links and help to those seeking attorney assistance or help with civil matters that include business topics, consumer issues, elder law, employment questions, family and children matters and government benefit issues. The CLS website is found at: www.coloradolegalservices.org. CLS offices are located throughout Colorado.

The Colorado State Judicial Branch website also provides help for those wanting to represent themselves ("pro se") through its on-line Self-Help Center: www.courts.state.co.us/self-help/proseresources1.cfm.

In years past, Colorado Legal Services has been funded by attorneys through attorney bank trust accounts. Under this program, the attorney directs the bank to pay all accrued interest on funds in the attorney's trust (escrow) accounts to Colorado Legal Services. However in recent years, when bank interest has been nearly zero, very little funding has reached Colorado Legal Services from these attorney accounts—at the same time that the need for legal services by low income residents and the unemployed has reached a new high.

Until interest rates again provide a stable and meaningful cash source to adequately fund Colorado Legal Services, many private Colorado attorneys have also pledged to provide 50 hours of legal services at little, or no, charge to low income clients, putting into practice these professionalism promises:

A lawyer owes to the public a devotion to the public good and to public service…and the contribution of uncompensated time and civic influence on behalf of those persons who cannot afford adequate legal assistance. We will endeavor to make legal services available to people who have legal needs, but cannot afford to pay customary charges, and we will strive to provide advisory or other assistance to non-profit community service organizations.

In Colorado Springs, many local attorneys volunteer their time to the El Paso County Bar Association "call-a-lawyer" events held throughout the month at various locations throughout the area. Other attorneys volunteer their time to assist the neediest from crisis centers such as Ecumenical Social Ministries.

Clawson & Clawson LLP puts their promises into practice. We have consistently pledged to provide at least 50 hours of pro bono legal service annually for each of our attorneys, the majority of which provides legal representation for persons of limited means. The Colorado Supreme Court recently recognized Clawson & Clawson LLP for fulfilling that pledge for 2013.

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