Survivor’s Assistance Project Launched

Justice Unlocked is pleased to announce that we have received a grant from the Smithville Charitable Foundation which will allow us to provide over $20,000 in free and discounted legal services to victim’s of domestic/family violence and sexual assault. Thanks to the generosity and help of this local community partner, Justice Unlocked will be able to more than double our capacity for providing free services in the coming year!

 

Survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault often have complex legal needs involving protective orders, family law cases, the Department of Child Services, and a variety of other issues. Our stated minimum goals for this grant are to extend legal assistance to at least 40 additional victims in the next 12 months. In an effort to expand the reach and efficiency of the grant, we’re seeking out partnerships with other aid organizations in the area so that we can connect with the men and women they serve to offer on-site legal consultations at no-cost. In fact, we’re ready to announce our first such community partner, the Monroe County Protective Order Assistance Project! Our first on-site visitation with POAP will take place on Wednesday, November 22nd, from 12pm to 4pm in the Monroe County Justice Building.

 

Keep your eye on our website and social media over the course of the next few weeks as we announce additional local partners and share more information about how you might qualify for free legal services provided by this grant. Justice Unlocked looks forward to being able to help even more people in 2018, and expanding access to justice for everyone.

 

 

Keys to Justice – Changes and a New Path Ahead

Close-up picture of a map being held

Tourist Holding Map in their hands

A Great Start

We've officially passed our first 6 months as an organization. Start-up companies and non-profits come and go quickly and the majority of them fail in their first year. But we've been blessed with great support and great clients that have let us accomplish so much already. As of the end of the second quarter we've talked to over 85 people who needed help with legal problems and couldn't find an attorney anywhere else. We've opened 43 of those cases in our first six months and we've been able to close out nearly a dozen. People have retained custody of their children, have been kept out of jail, and have found help where they thought they were all alone.

As a young but growing organization, we're experiencing a lot of growing pains, and we're all still experimenting with the best way to keep helping people. Our interns and attorney often volunteer an enormous amount of hours. Our staff attorney has taken a huge cut in pay to come help people with us. And we've discovered that our current structure is sustainable but will never provide us with what we need to grow, find our own office space, and continue to help even more people.

Continue reading

Welcome to our first Staff Attorney!

Justice Unlocked is proud to welcome our first Staff Attorney to the team, Michael LoPrete! 


Michael Picture

Michael D. LoPrete has been practicing law for over six years, mostly handling cases related to Family and Juvenile Law. He earned his J.D. from the Indiana University School of Law in Bloomington, Indiana (now called the Maurer School of Law), and before that graduated from Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana. He’s got experience with the Department of Child Services, and is a Domestic Relations Mediator. Michael been a resident of Bloomington, Indiana for most of the last twelve years, ever since he moved to the city for law school. Bloomington is an easy town to fall in love with, and for Michael there was no exception. Michael is newly married, with a son in kindergarten.

We're extremely excited to welcome him to the team, and with his help we've already begun to be able to do real help in the community by taking in our first clients. He's going to be a valuable mentor to our intern staff, and we hope you guys make him feel welcome!

Zombie debt eats lawyers’ ethics — and your money

Old debt gets written off, then sold, then parceled out to debt collectors where it comes back to life.

Source: Zombie debt eats lawyers’ ethics — and your money

 

This is actually a great article and an interesting look at the unethical practices in the debt collection industry. I remember the first time as a law clerk for a judge I got a filing from a lawyer who (because of state law) had to stamp a “This document is from a debt collector” on all their stationary. It shocked me at first. I had thought there was a clear difference between a debt collector and an attorney, but for many firms in this kind of business, those lines blur. Trying to help stop these debt collectors can be a full-time job all on its own, for example the consumer financial protection bureau.

 

Some firms are filing thousands of lawsuits a month to collect on consumer debt. Most of these lawsuits are baseless. Many of the debt collection practices are outright illegal. And they’ve almost never, ever, done the paperwork correctly and have a clear and legal claim of title to the debt. Often times, literally all you have to do is show up and say “Prove It”. But so many consumers are scared into paying, or just ignore these kinds of summons hoping they’ll go away. I know, I’ve been there myself. When consumers are unsure what to do, they need help stopping debt collectors.

The community in the areas that Justice Unlocked serves, won’t have to worry about ignoring this kind of zombie debt. We’ll be willing to fight for you, the lending industry may be predatory, but now you’ll have a friend on your side. The poor and disadvantaged populations that we serve are often the number one targets for this sort of unethical practices, and I’m really looking forward to doing what we can to give people help stopping debt collectors and taking their lives back – for less than they’d have to pay regular attorneys.