The Volunteer Legal Services Corporation (VLSC) provides free legal assistance to low-income individuals in Alameda County by mobilizing volunteer attorneys to provide pro bono legal services. VLSC provides legal assistance (and pro bono opportunities for attorneys!) in two ways: (1) through placement of clients with volunteer attorneys from our pro bono panels and (2) through our 32 monthly pro per clinics where volunteers attorneys help clients with completing court documents and clients learn how to represent themselves.
This is the story of Josh* who attended one of the Bankruptcy clinics last year:
Josh, a young man in his late twenties who was recently diagnosed with a complicated heart disease, attended a VLSC Bankruptcy clinic to explore his options for dealing with debt. At the time, despite taking medication, Josh was unable to perform any physical labor which meant that he could no longer work. As a result, his only source of income was General Assistance and Food Stamps. Josh accumulated approximately $16,000 in credit card debt. Creditors began calling him as early as 6am to harass him about payment. Josh applied for disability benefits, but his application was still being processed at the time of the Bankruptcy clinic. His doctor told him that though he was already taking medication, it may take as long as six months before he starts recovering. Josh did not know if his condition would turn out to be a temporary or permanent disability.
Josh met with an attorney at the Bankruptcy Clinic who explained that he could wait to take action until he sees if the medication is effective and if his heart condition changes. While Josh might have been considered “judgment proof” at the time, he might not be in the future. The attorney told him about another VLSC clinic, the Debt Collection Defense Clinic, where he could get help dealing with the creditors who are harassing him, or he could return to get further bankruptcy help if he decides to pursue that course of action now or in the future. Josh left thanking the attorney for explaining his options.
The work of VLSC wouldn’t be possible without the our volunteer attorneys. Each year, they provide nearly 3,000 hours of pro bono service to people in need in our community. Don’t forget to save the date–Wednesday, May 22, 2013–for our “Justice for All” celebration, an event that honors our pro bono attorneys and the work they do for the people of Alameda County!