Keys to Justice – Changes and a New Path Ahead

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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.

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Welcome to our first Staff Attorney!

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


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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.

The Justice Gap: Corporate Lawyers Are Making Record Revenues, But Legal Aid Is in Crisis | Susan Beck

There's just one legal aid lawyer for every 8,893 low-income Americans who qualify for legal aid. That's how, in a country with one of the highest concentrations of lawyers in the world, poor people often are forced to represent themselves in life-altering legal matters.

Source: The Justice Gap: Corporate Lawyers Are Making Record Revenues, But Legal Aid Is in Crisis | Susan Beck

 

The gap between the haves and have-nots in this country isn't just limited to the jobs market. It's in the legal market too. This article shows some statistics about how the largest corporate law firms protecting big businesses have improved profits and raked in multi-million dollar bonuses while legal aid funding for the poor has dropped by nearly half over the last decade. Public funding is hard to come by, and private donations have fallen to, it's just harder to get people to give money these days.

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DIscounted Legal Services from Justice Unlocked

Discounted Legal Services From Justice Unlocked

DIscounted Legal Services from Justice Unlocked

How does the law even work?

How will discounted legal services work? How will we decide who gets to use our services? Just how much of a discount is "discounted"? Basically, people want to know, exactly what are we going to be doing with our new organization? And in today's blog post, I'm going to break that down for you.

The whole idea behind Justice Unlocked is getting people who want an attorney help, even when they normally can't afford one. If your matter is civil (like most protective orders, divorces, or business disputes are) then you don't get a free lawyer from the courts. Legal Aid societies might not be able to help you either. There's a lot of people who make "too much" money to get help from these programs, but who don't make enough to afford a quality attorney.

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